Millennial parents have found a trick to make new friends, save money and shop for their kids
Swap, don’t shop
Over the years, Tanya Shah (40) has tried to be more responsible about her clothing choices, opting for classics instead of styles that change every season. But shopping sustainably for kids is harder. “Myra is a toddler, and stains every single outfit with spit-up. Vaidehi is seven and outgrows her clothes within months,” says the Pune-based market research analyst.
She knows that throwaway culture is a planet-killer. Apparel manufacturing generates 8-10% of global emissions. India alone generates more than one million tonnes of textile waste every year, of which children’s apparel is a major contributor. Fast fashion also dries up water resources and generates plastic, which ends up in our oceans and landfills.
Jen Gale, author of The Sustainable(ish) Guide to Green Parenting, says, “Parents are marketed at quite hard by brands with the most money, not necessarily the most ethical practices,” she says. “Shopping sustainably for kids might not be at the forefront of parents’ minds – when you’re trying to get through the day, you grab whatever is most convenient.”
Millenial parents are also a rarity in their friend circles. “My mom borrowed baby clothes and toys from her friends and family. But when I had Vihaan two years ago, my options were limited,” says Anika Jha, 32, a homemaker based in Noida.
As per the National Family Health Survey 2022, between 2019-21, the number of children born per woman in India declined from 3.4 to 2. More people are choosing to be child-free, so moms need to get more proactive to find and find new ways to get their hands on pre-owned kids’ items and expand their borrowing circles.
Shopping sustainably for kids helps to build connections
Ameya Karnik, a Mumbai-based lawyer, joined a WhatsApp group called Mom R Us, formed by the women in her yoga group. Women post requests for items such as shoes, clothes, car seats, and even cribs. They can temporarily borrow these or buy them at a discount, depending on the quality, usage, and brand. Karnik says, “The best part is that I’m now connected to moms who share the same values. It’s also helping us introduce our children to the concept of sustainability.”
Swapping kids’ items can also turn out to be a fun social experience. As psychologist Anvita Srivastava puts it, “It’s a great way to make new friends and learn about different parenting styles.”
Frida Fernandes, a Mumbai-based homemaker, found her borrowing circle on the Facebook page for her school alumni. She reached out to other moms who were finding it difficult to declutter their closets. They were happy to sign up, and it quickly became more active than the alumni page. “Now, it’s a community where moms meet to exchange kids’ items and trade parenting tips and advice,” she says.
Pass it along
Some parents are making connections on platforms that promote shopping sustainably for kids without compromising on age-appropriate products.
Ravina Singh, a media professional based in Noida, is a regular on Twice Treasured, Tiny Things and Sold Resold, which make it easy for millennial parents to find gently used kiddie items that are still in good condition. “I posted that I wanted to swap kids’ books and ended up meeting other moms who loved reading too. We started a book club and meet once a month to exchange books and discuss what we’ve read,” she says.
Such platforms are helping eco-conscious parents extend the life cycle of more expensive items such as the Mamaroo (electric rocker for babies). “My son and niece used it before it was passed on to two other friends in our group. Six kids used it before it was sold online to another parent. We are also still in touch with her, and she plans to pass it around within her friend circle now,” says Natasha Singh, 35, an advertising professional.
No matter how you choose to do it, swapping kids’ stuff saves money, reduces waste, and builds community. So, the next time you find yourself shopping for new toys or shoes for your kids, consider sustainable practices like swapping instead.