Would it surprise you to know that the average family spends a staggering £13,000 on clothing for their children and that the cost of raising a child now stands at around £9,000 a year!

Kiddy chic: let's think a bit more creatively
Kiddy chic: let’s think a bit more creatively

With sums like these, no wonder parents countrywide are beginning to be inventive with money saving ideas.  The ‘Make do and Mend’ ethos seems to have been reinvented, after a lengthy absence, primarily because we now find ourselves in the grips of a recession.

There is some disparity in the way our minds work when it comes to our children and what they wear, but it’s great to see that more and more parents are making a concerted effort to discover alternative, cheaper, more environmentally friendly ways to keep their little ones fashionable.

Borrowing clothes from friends and relatives is the most obvious solution, especially when a new baby arrives, as they are guaranteed to only be worn a few times.  Washed and bagged up after use, they are then ready and waiting for the next little one’s arrival, whether it be your own, a friends or a relative’s baby.   All my children were lucky enough to be able to sleep under the same beautiful cotton sheets that my own Mother made for me when I was a baby and both girls wore, amongst other things, a lovely pinafore style bib, of mine, that felt fabulously retro.  It certainly felts very special re-using something that has played a part in your own upbringing.  Being creative and making things for your children could also leave possible air looms, to be handed down through future generations

Supplementing new with old clothing is always a good compromise as it has to be said that only those of us with an extremely strong willpower would be able to resist all the lovely children’s items available in the shops.  Shopping online for second hand children’s clothes is becoming increasingly popular and several websites are now offering retro style clothing for children, many of which have been re-cycled from unwanted adult clothing.   These websites are also a great source of clothes for our label conscious children in the eight to ten year old bracket, as they are the ones greatly influenced by peer pressure and are also the most capable of exerting a strong influence on their parents in the decision making process.

We need to instil this ’Make do and mend’ ethos into our children as it’s a valuable tool to go through life with.  Being frugal and creative with the family budget is both sensible and liberating for all, and perfectly feasible considering the options available.

Visit www.swop2shop.co.uk and go to ‘Visit Kids’ to browse affordable, second hand children’s clothes, sized from baby to young teens.

Alexander McQueen has been described as a designer capable of bringing;

‘ the raw and symbolic beauty of the natural

world sharply into play with

a regal, noble, architectural force’

With this in mind I couldn’t believe my luck at finding this stunning piece during a visit to a Designer sale in London, just days before his tragic death.


For me, a fashion item that generates such a strong emotional reaction will be deserving of the timeless tag and is already on the road to becoming labeled as ‘Vintage’.

The benefits of clothes that ‘speak to you’ will become self evident, when in years to come they still hold their appeal, to you or their new owner.

Wearing Vintage doesn’t just express who you are now, but echoes what has shaped and inspired you from your past.  The wearing of a vintage item evokes a whole range of thoughts regarding its history, previous owners and experiences.

It’s a great feeling to know that you are giving an item of clothing a new lease of life and for the individualists amongst you it is a great way of expressing your personality.

The message is therefore to ‘dust off’ that timeless piece from your wardrobe and even if your classic item fails to ‘speak to you’ in quite the same way as it used to, odds are it will have plenty to say to the next person on its journey!

If you want to find out more about swapping Vintage log on to Swop2Shop.co.uk

Have you made any new years resolutions?  If these involve either trying to save money or the urge to do your bit for the environment then let’s find ways to make it happen.


After the extravagances of the Christmas period, most of us feel the need to ‘cleanse’ our lives in some way, shape or form.  Making this a reality isn’t easy when, lets face it, life nowadays is hectic for us all and the demands on our time are greater than ever before.

In reality, we would all benefit from a little help putting those resolutions into practice, especially when it comes to recycling and making the material things in life far more sustainable.

Those of us with bulging wardrobes, filled with items that are unworn or unloved are likely to be looking for ways to rectify this.  Just emptying your wardrobe doesn’t really tick any boxes, something constructive needs to be done with it all.

Deciding what to do with your unwanted items can be a somewhat time consuming and daunting task.  There are, however an array of environmentally friendly routes out there, tailor made for their disposal.  These range from charity shops and second hand dress agencies right through to local clothes swishing events and several online clothes swapping websites.  All of these encourage the recycling of your unwanted items but offer very different consumer experiences.

You could  ‘Swish’ your way through 2010 by supporting your local swishing events, as this is a great way of swapping your old clothes for new and making new friends in the process.

Tried and tested dress agencies are also great for realizing some cash for unwanted garments and you’ll be safe in the knowledge that those items will continue to be worn by others when they are re-sold.

The largest growth area in the clothes recycling industry has been the emergence of online clothes swapping websites that offer a range of swapping and selling options, for those wanting to swap from the comfort of their own homes.  These sites are ideal for those who are short of time, but wish to see the lives of their clothes continue.  They are great for seasonal offers and incentives too and from an environmental point of view couldn’t be better.

Take a look at Swop2Shop.co.uk .  For a limited period they are offering all those who register with them a freepost bag to start the clothes swapping process. This certainly is a big incentive to keep at least one of those New Year’s resolutions!

I read a horrifying statistic the other day- that we in Britain throw away two million tones of clothing every year.

Honesty works this Christmas
Honesty works this Christmas

This really opened my eyes to the extravagances of the Christmas season and how, in order to reduce these statistics, we all need to modify our consumer habits.

There won’t be one of us that can say that they have never received an unwanted gift at Christmas time, and this is particularly true of items of clothing that have been lovingly chosen and given to us by friends and family.

Although the exchanging and returning of unwanted gifts is an option for us all post Christmas there are still lots of us that feel that once given something, the obligation is there to hold on to that item, as we don’t want to offend the giver.

The way to combat this is to be brutally honest with each other by letting people know exactly what item of clothing you wish for.

Isn’t this taking the fun out of Christmas? You’re probably asking.

Well the answer is definitely “no” as we all need to start appreciating that making fashion sustainable and not disposable is an essential part of saving our planet.

If this all seems very serious and un-festive, fear not, as there are lots of ways to  savor that fun, present buying experience, while being safe in the knowledge that you’re doing something worthwhile too.


Taking The Pain Out Of Giving And Receiving

Looking at things from the Giver’s perspective, a few basic rules apply:-

  • Remember that for most of us clothes are very personal and go a long way to reflect our personalities.  With this in mind take note of the style of the person you are buying for to enable your choice of gift to reflect this.
  • If you know that the recipient always purchases expensive clothing that would be out of your present buying budget, think of an alternative gift idea.
  • Bear in mind the lifestyle of the recipient so that something unsuitable is not purchased.  The classic example of this are ties which everybody loves giving but not every man loves wearing!
  • Receiving an article of clothing as a gift which co-ordinates well with existing wardrobe pieces is always a joy and is less likely to be rendered redundant.  Having the knowledge of where the recipient usually shops and the brands they buy will dramatically increase your chances of purchasing a well- loved present.

From a receiver’s point of view it is a mistake to think that honesty is an all or nothing phenomenon.  Equipping the giver with a few essential criteria regarding the clothing gift you would like, still allows some element of surprise whilst reducing the chances of it being totally unsuitable and a potentially unworn gift.

Of course, if the thought of all this data gathering and detective work seems overwhelming you can always resort to on-line Christmas wish list companies.  Here, families and social groups can post their Christmas lists for the ultimate, no wastage present buying experience.

If all else fails try Facebook and Twitter to communicate your wishes or there is always the tried and tested gift voucher alternative.

Let’s give it our all this Christmas to try and be less wasteful, but without compromising our fun, after all it has always been a time for giving and receiving so why should that change.

All that remains, is to say a very Merry Christmas to all Hello Eco Living readers from all of us at Swop2Shop.co.uk and here’s to many happy hours of present buying!