Organic Onesies vs. Secondhand

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Infants seem to outgrow clothes as fast as you can change them. They certainly outgrow them before they wear them out.

Cotton clothing is best for babies, and you want to choose organic cotton whenever you can, said green-living expert Trish Riley.

Luckily for eco-conscious parents, such clothes are no longer hard to find. They're available through boutique retailers, such as Speesees and Hanna Anderson, as well as at big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and Babies R Us. Even Gerber has responded to the trend, offering its own organic line of layette items.

But from an environmental perspective, it may be better to buy secondhand items made from conventionally grown cotton. Jenny McGruther said she prefers buying used items over organic new ones, for financial and environmental reasons. "Whatever pesticides were there have been completely washed out, and the carbon load has already been calculated," she said. She said she spent $1 or $2 per item of gently used secondhand clothes, compared with a new organic onesie or T-shirt for $10, $20, or even $30.

Consignment shops are a great resource, especially for dressy outfits a child may only wear once or twice. "You can get beautiful clothes with tags still on at consignment shops," financial columnist Liz Pulliam Weston said. And when you're done, you can bring them right back, reducing the item's environmental impact even further.

Also, given the expense and energy consumption related to shipping, try to pick up things locally. Shipping pajamas across the country isn't the best use of oil.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company