Maternity clothes that get the environmental green light.
Sooner or later in your pregnancy, no amount of yanking, tugging or inhaling will allow you to fasten the top button of your jeans. As you contemplate the prospect of shopping for clothes to fit your rapidly expanding mid-section, you may assume that this is one area where your environmental values must take a backseat. Finding attractive maternity garb is hard enough without insisting that it pass the eco-test, too. But it turns out that conscientious moms-to-be have options for stepping out in style, as some designers are turning out eco-friendly maternity clothes without a trace of tie-dyed, crunchy-granola styling. Better yet, some planet-saving options can save you money as well. Here are four steps to making your maternity-wear choices the deepest shade of green:
1. Reuse Before rushing to the mall, shop your closet. Empire-waist tops and A-line dresses accommodate a growing belly, and you may fit into your prepregnancy pants and skirts with the help of a nifty contraption called the BellaBand. Available in soft organic cotton at ingridandisabel.com, this stretchy band holds up unfastened pants and skirts, allowing you to stay in your regular clothes long after you’ve lost the battle of the buttons.
2. Recycle Astonishing amounts of water, energy and chemicals are needed to grow, dye and process such fabrics as rayon, nylon, polyester and conventional cotton, yet too often, clothes are tossed away after a short time. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans discard about 8 million tons of clothing and textiles per year. With their short-lived usefulness for any one woman, maternity clothes are tailor-made for reuse. Even those made of petroleum-based fabrics, such as polyester, become greener when handed off. If you don’t have a source for hand-me-downs, visit consignment shops; many children’s resale stores also stock maternity clothes. Or buy online: Sites like bellybundles.com, emommie.com and gently-used.com offer second-chance items.
3. Rethink After you’ve scoured your closet and the thrift stores, you might still need a few things. When buying new, look for sustainable fabrics like linen, hemp, silk and organic cotton and wool—and expect to pay a bit more to keep your conscience clear. Avoid conventionally grown cotton, one of the most water- and pesticide-intensive crops. It takes about 1,500 gallons of water to grow enough cotton for a pair of jeans, and about one-third of a pound of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for a T-shirt. And don’t be bamboozled by the sustainability claims made for bamboo. It’s possible to grow it with little impact, but turning bamboo into fabric requires the use of polluting chemicals.
While some maternity brands claim to use sustainable fabrics, “greenwashing” is rife; check product descriptions to be sure you’re getting an Earth-friendly garment. Gap usually offers a few things in linen, and Japanese Weekend’s organic-cotton pants are a year-round staple. If you’ll be in your second or third trimester during winter, check out Old Navy’s maternity coats made mostly of recycled wool.
4. Return the favor After you’ve delivered your baby and are back in your regular duds, box up those maternity clothes and pass them along while they’re still stylish. If you don’t have pregnant friends, take the clothes to a consignment store and trade them for baby clothes, or donate them to charity. Somewhere out there a pregnant woman with unbuttoned pants is desperately seeking something to wear!