#SheSociety sits down with Brisbane mum Olivia Westerink, who runs start-up Recyclababy.
Q: Olivia, tell us about Recyclababy.
I’m a mum of two young boys and I was looking for an outlet in amongst the mayhem at home. One inevitable part of motherhood is a mountain load of washing and I was quickly noticing that my son’s clothing was only being washed a handful of times before they were getting bagged up and put away into storage. My son went through six different sizes of onesies in one short year and I figured there has to be a better way to do this. I started reading up on fast fashion and the impact it has on our environment, but the focus really was on adult clothing. What about the babies and their clothing turnover?!
In between a pile of gifts and the excitement that comes with buying clothing for your impending arrival, the waste of it all is astounding. Recyclababy was born to help encourage new mums to buy quality, pre-loved goods, so we can continue to work towards a more sustainable future.
Q: How does Recyclababy work?
Once a month I hold a pop-up shop where I sell pre-loved baby items, all of which are in excellent used condition. I have baby clothing ranging from newborn through to size 2, and a smaller range of kids clothing from size 3-5. There’s also hats, swimwear, shoes, sleeping bags, wraps, swaddles, toys and books.
The majority of the items are from brand-names like Seed Baby, Country Road, Purebaby, Rock Your Baby, Bonds and Marquise, to list a few. I want to try and steer clear of the big department store items as they don’t last, and their environmental impact is large.
Everything is priced affordably, so quality baby items are accessible to all mums. Prices start from as little as $1 and the majority of the things I sell are between $1 – $6 each.
Q: Why should Brisbane mums shop at Recyclababy?
It’s so easy to duck into a large department store and pick up a handful of clothes for a few dollars each. But the sad part about that is we’re encouraging a fast-fashion approach from the day our babies are born. The majority of those products are made of synthetic fibres like polyester and nylon, and those are basically forms of plastic. Because they’re cheap, they don’t last long and they ultimately end up in landfill. So much of those plastic fibres pollute our oceans so it’s important to reuse and recycle where we can.
Recyclababy provides an alternative to fast-fashion. Yes, the items are pre-loved, but that’s not a bad thing! They’re quality items, which are in excellent condition, and they don’t cost the Earth.
Q: What sort of items do you sell?
The majority is branded, pre-loved baby clothing from newborn to size 2. I’ve had a lot of people ask for bigger children’s sizes too, so I’m stocking a smaller range of size 3 to 5 as well now. There’s also hats, swimwear, shoes, sleeping bags, wraps and swaddles, toys and books. All in excellent, used condition.
Q: What about the stigma around second-hand clothing? Is this something we need to overcome?
I do often think about this and wonder why there is such a stigma around second-hand. In the last couple of decades our shift towards fast-fashion is wearing out the planet and it has to change. There are so many quality garments going in to landfill for a number of reasons and it really shouldn’t be that way.
If I can let you in on a little secret…there’s so much garment-gold out there if you just change your focus to buying pre-loved. Recyclababy was started to encourage a bigger paradigm shift towards buying second-hand for bubs. Once I changed my own outlook, I couldn’t believe how mistaken I was ever buying new. Now, I find myself always choosing second-hand first, and I love it! Not only do my boys wear pre-loved, but I do too, as does my husband! My bank balance doesn’t mind either.
If I can change one mum’s decision to shop pre-loved versus strolling in to Kmart, then I’m happy. Because I’m hoping that there’s bigger change coming.
Q: When is your next pop-up?
My last one for the year is a Christmas special, on this Saturday 14 December from 9am to midday at 30 Everton Tce, Everton Park. As always, there’s hundreds of items on offer and I restock all morning. A quick scroll through my Instagram page will show you all the gems that others have taken home.
This weekend, I’m also having a special giveaway where one lucky visitor will win a Marsupi Australia baby carrier (https://marsupiaustralia.com.au/). I used this baby carrier for both my boys and it was a gamechanger in the early days. They’re made of 100% natural fibres too which makes my heart sing!
Q: What’s the feedback been like so far and what’s plans for the future?
The feedback has been amazing. I’ve had a lot repeat visits from mums or mum-to-be who come back again and bring a friend the next time. This surely is a testament to buying pre-loved. There’s so much to gain from it; the thrill of finding an item you perhaps couldn’t afford to buy new, or the joy of knowing your little one is helping to sustain their future, or the fact that they aren’t wearing plastic which doesn’t allow their little bodies to breathe properly. All of it is positive and it’s so wonderful to see and encourage.
As for the future, for now I’m happy focussing on my pop-up shops and working on changing that paradigm shift towards choosing second-hand first. But who knows what change might come in 2020?!
Check out @recyclababy on Facebook & Instagram!
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