As I’m writing, I’m 34 weeks pregnant and definitely getting the most out of my collection of maternity clothes! My lovely slim-fitting capris pants were tucked away into storage long ago. The ubiquitous Breton maternity tops are out in force. This is my last baby, so I’m starting to think what to do with my maternity clothes when I’m done. And then that got me thinking, did I do my maternity clothes shopping in the most sustainable way? What are the most eco friendly maternity clothes? Are they second hand or new from a sustainable brand?
In this article I’ll give you a rundown of the most eco friendly and sustainable ways to source maternity clothes. As well as talking about some great hacks and eco brands, I’ll rate how sustainable each option is.
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Step 1: Shop your own wardrobe
When you get pregnant for the first time, you might think you’ll quickly lots of maternity clothes. This simply isn’t true. Unfortunately they’re used very little and for a very short space of time, making them fall into the “fast fashion” category.
Every baby bump develops at a different speed. But in a first-time pregnancy in particular it will be a while before you pack your old clothes away. Even once your bump is visible, there are still plenty of items in your wardrobe that you can use:
- Open cardigans. Great for layering over maternity tops both during pregnancy and when nursing
- Knickers. Don’t fall for the “under the bump” label when it comes to maternity pants. Your regular knickers fit under the bump anyway!
- Leggings and pyjamas. Both nice and stretchy so they’ll accommodate your bump for a while
- Tunic, wrap or empire line dresses. These are very useful during the awkward early-second trimester bit of bump growth. This is where your tummy has grown but it’s not that obvious you’re pregnant yet. Any roomy dresses you have will be great at this point.
- Elastic waisted skirts and trousers. You can potentially get through the whole pregnancy with these if you don’t mind going under the bump.
- Oversized shirts and jumpers. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just wearing a size or two larger will always work. Very often they really don’t sit right over the bump and just look weird and frumpy. Shirts, hoodies and jumpers are usually an exception though.
- Hacked fitted trousers, jeans and skirts. Try a waistband extender or maternity band to get a bit more use out of them.
Sustainability Rating: 5/5 Using what you already have is by far the most eco friendly maternity clothes option.
Step 2: Preloved maternity clothes
Once you’ve exhausted your own wardrobe and baby bump is properly blooming, then you can start thinking about shopping. Let’s start with new to you, though, rather than brand new maternity clothes.
You really aren’t going to wear these clothes very much or for very long in the grand scheme of things. Of course, other pregnant women have also bought maternity clothes they need to get rid of but haven’t worn much. You’ll find the second hand maternity clothes market full of bargains in great condition.
Try asking around any friends or family who have recently had a baby. Perhaps you can borrow their maternity clothes if you share the same taste and clothes size.
The next stop would be the usual eBay, Vinted and Facebook Marketplace or local selling groups.
Sustainability Rating: 4/5 If you’re buying second hand then you’re often contributing to things like gas emissions from couriers. However the items you’re buying already exist and you’re probably saving them from landfill.
Step 3: Rent your maternity clothes
So you don’t know anyone who has just had a baby and has a similar size and taste in clothes. Guess what, you can still borrow your maternity clothes! Isabella Oliver has a range of beautiful, sustainably sourced clothes to rent for a minimum of a two week period.
The majority of their clothes are made from natural fibres while others are made from recycled resources. These include ocean waste, discarded fishing nets and fabric scraps that would otherwise end up in landfill.
If you want a new maternity wardrobe without contributing to fast fashion, Isabella Oliver is worth a look.
Sustainability Rating: 3/5 By borrowing and returning clothes you’re using what’s already out there, which is a very sustainable action. There’s still a carbon footprint with delivery and returns, though.
Step 4: Eco friendly maternity clothes brands
Maybe borrowing, making do with what you’ve got and scouring the second hand market hasn’t got you quite covered. Or perhaps you just want to treat yourself and celebrate your body’s amazing ability to make a new person. In that case, the next most sustainable place to look is eco friendly maternity clothes brands. Here are the most eco friendly ones in the UK.
You might have noticed that there are a LOT of monochrome Breton stripes around when it comes to maternity clothes! If, like me, you prefer a bit more colour and individuality in your wardrobe, Frugi are the place to go.
Their solid sustainability credentials mean it’s an investment for sure. But if you enter my name (Gudrun Getz) at the checkout you’ll get 10% off.
Frugi also has a loyal fanbase and their clothes sell well in second hand groups like FUNAP on Facebook. Despite the high investment you will usually make a good chunk of your money back once you’re done.
Sustainability Rating: 3/5 Fashion sustainability site Good On You give Frugi a “Good” rating for their eco practices. It’s not as sustainable a choice as reusing existing clothes, but they’re by far the UK’s greenest maternity clothes retailer.
Marks & spencer
If fully eco sustainable brands are out of your budget then Marks & Spencer are the best high street option. Good On You gives them a sustainability rating of “It’s A Start”. Could be better, but they’re moving high street fashion in the right eco direction.
M&S is doing good work by using some recycled or sustainable fabrics. It is also on target to reach its science-based greenhouse emissions target.
Their maternity range isn’t huge but it’s great for basics such as jeans, leggings, t shirts and underwear.
Sustainability Rating: 2/5 M&S are as eco as it gets on the high street. Buying new over second hand is always less sustainable though.
Speaking of underwear, Boody is currently the undisputed UK queen of sustainability.
They don’t do specific maternity or nursing options. However their soft and stretchy bamboo bras and pants are perfect for both pregnancy and postpartum.
Good On You gives them a sustainability rating of “Good” for using plastic-free packaging and minimising textile waste.
Their factories are certified by Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production and have good labour practices. Their clothes are also free from animal products.
Sustainability Rating: 3/5 Boody are doing great work and are the best option for sustainable underwear in the UK.
Mama;licious are dedicated to maternity wear so have a lot of choice. You can kit yourself out with everything from skirts and dresses to tops, trousers and nightwear.
Their prices are reasonable and yet they are also doing fairly well on sustainability. Good On You has given them a rating of “It’s A Start”. This is for their use of eco friendly fabrics and reduction in water wastage. However the treatment of workers in their labour chain is still “Not Good Enough” according to their rating.
Still, if you are trying to be eco friendly with your maternity style and are on a budget, Mama;licious is a starting point.
Sustainability Rating: 2/5 Mama;licious are trying hard when it comes to sustainability. They are good for mamas with a conscience on a tight budget
If money is less of an issue or you’re looking for proper investment pieces, Tiffany Rose have your back.
Tiffany Rose focus on evening and special occasion wear but do also have some super stylish day outfits. They’re the maternity choice of celebrities if that’s your thing and all their clothes are made in the UK.
They haven’t been rated by Good On You. But being UK-based means carbon emissions are much lower than retailers who manufacture abroad.
Tiffany Rose are also able to scrutinise things like labour conditions more easily. Their sustainability statement says they do small production runs in order to avoid unnecessary waste.
If high-quality statement pieces are what you’re after, Tiffany Rose is the most sustainable choice.
Sustainability Rating: 3/5 Tiffany Rose’s UK manufacture process gives is some pretty major sustainability credentials for us Brits. They could do better with fabric choices, but for glamourous eco friendly maternity clothes they’re the top choice.
So I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to eco maternity clothes and are feeling inspired. If you’d like to learn more about having a greener pregnancy, check out my 12 Tips For A Natural Pregnancy. Wishing you all the best for your pregnancy and mothering journey.