Green Mama: A Brilliant Way to Upcycle Your Kids’ Clothes

Hilltown Families Contributing Writer

Solutions for the Fashionista’s in Our Lives

Thirteen-month-old Kylee knows that stripes are making a comeback this season. (Photo Credit: Kelly Bevan McIlquham)

My niece is a mini-fashionista. She has an outfit (or two) to wear for every day of the month (at least) before my sister even has to think about running a load of wash.

Wait a minute. Strike that. Unless my little fashion-forward niece (did I mention she’s only 13 months old) wants those clothes to curdle in her hamper, there is a little washing that needs to happen — but you do get my point. Don’t you?

Kids today have clothes, clothes and more clothes; many of them more stylish than their sweat pant-wearing, jeans-buying, comfort-seeking moms and dads. The problem? Many of those clothes occupying their overfilled closets and broken bureau drawers have never seen the light of day.

Come on all you moms out there. Admit it. Most of us have donated an item or two to the Goodwill, a friend or another worthy person or charity in need of clothes for their children with the original price tags still on them. I know I bought Kylee — that’s my niece — a Patriot’s onesie that for some reason or another she never wore. (Yes, my dear sister I just outed you online!)

Not to mention the money we parents are spending on outfitting our little divas or models-in-training. And just wait until they reach their “preteen” years.

My 11-year-old twins — one boy, one girl — are all about looking stylish. My son tried on shirt after shirt after shirt before beginning middle school this fall, each time asking his twin sister, “Does this look cool?”

My daughter McKenna had me toting her all around the county to find a sporting goods store that carried basketball sneakers that were stylish enough for her newfound “divalicious” tastes. Seriously? They’re basketball sneakers for God’s sake: last year’s sneakers still looked brand-new and if they wouldn’t cause blisters or her toes to permanently curl or resemble something right out of a Chinese binding ritual I would have made her continue to wear them.

I know I’m not alone with these concerns. Our kids are growing up and out of their clothes faster than many of us parents can get our busy selves to the stores or click the mouse on to our favorite online department store. But thanks to the new online company thredUP we now have an answer to our clothing prayers.

The company established in the spring of 2009 is the brainchild of James Reinhart, Oliver Lubin and Chris Homer based in Cambridge, Mass., and advised by current Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

The company is by far one of the greenest, most environmentally-friendly solutions I’ve seen for parents looking to keep their kids clothed, in the styles (and sizes) they want all at bargain prices, too. It’s virtually free!

Here’s how it works. ThredUP eliminates (or at least significantly decreases) one’s need to head to the department stores every other month for new clothing for the ever-growing children in our lives. The company does this by offering a way to “shop” for the sizes and type of clothing you want or need for your children. Essentially the company is a one-stop second-hand store that takes the hassle out of second-hand shopping by doing the work for you. Basically, parents can exchange full boxes of kids’ clothing, in the sizes they want on the company’s website ( without ever leaving the house.

Kylee making a fashion statement in her JLo-like leisure suit and snuggling with her Aunt Kelly. (Photo credit: Kelly Bevan McIlquham)

How do they do it? Parents find other parents on the site who have the sizes they want or who want the sizes they have. Parents looking for clothing — browsing by size, season and gender — pick a box of clothes for their children from the thredUP site. (Approximately 15 articles of children’s clothing fits in each box.) Parents pay only a $5 shipping charge for the box. Parents looking to donate gently-used clothes list their clothes and sizes online and when your box is picked you send it free of charge to its new owner via thredUP’s home pick-up and delivery option. Parents also can find a favorite sender and receive notifications when they list new boxes.

This idea is absolutely brilliant. Not only are parents finding a low-cost way to keep their children in the styles they want, but there are also a number of added environmental and overall parental benefits to the system.

According to thredUP’s press packet their system helps “Keep it Green”: “Over 20 billion pounds of clothing and textiles are tossed into landfills each year,” their press release said, “ThredUP helps combat the waste, encouraging families to “upcycle” kids’ clothing.”

ThredUP also claims to eliminate the number of hours many parents spend “selling kids’ clothing one painfully tedious item at a time” via eBay or consignment stores. In just 10 minutes, without uploading pictures or leaving their couches, parents can get rid of the clothing cluttering up their hallways, closets, attics and more.

ThredUP even allows you to send care packages to military families stationed domestically or overseas.

Currently I have two garbage bags full of items that no longer fit my 9-year-old son, who also no longer fits into his older brother’s hand-me-downs. They wear the same sized shirts and in another month or two their pant sizes will be the same size, too. That can get pretty pricey, not to mention the 11-year-old fashion diva living in the room next door. With her eyes on brand-name items I need to take on more freelance work just to pay for her wardrobe or better yet, she needs to get a job!

Or we can just find another young fashionista to swap with. It won’t be long until you see my name on thredUP’s “Super Swapper” or “Top Rockstar” list.

As for my favorite little 13-month-old fashion icon … You can bet Miss Kylee that I’ll be turning your Mommy onto this site very soon.

To learn more about thredUP and how the company works visit their site at


Kelly Bevan McIlquham

Kelly is a psychotherapist-turned-writer who resides in Hinsdale, MA with her husband, three children, two black labs, a cat, a turtle, and a few goldfish. She is the Features Editor for The Advocate in the Berkshires where she especially enjoys writing family- and education-related articles and her monthly “Parent to Parent” column. Kelly also dabbles in writing for children and has had her work published by Wee Ones online family magazine. Her new blog “Green Mama” chronicles her journey as a “green” parent in every sense of the word — from her parenting naiveté to living greener. When not writing, her favorite pastime is cheering on her children at various football, soccer, basketball and baseball games.

One Comment on “Green Mama: A Brilliant Way to Upcycle Your Kids’ Clothes

  1. What an awesome idea! What cute models too! and think of the money I will save : – ) Love you.

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