On the topic of hand-me-downs, diapers have been around for many millenniums but the disposable diaper has only been around 80+ years. It first popped up in the UK around 1930. Today we’ve made a shift away from dirty cloth diapers and evolved to using disposables as the norm. While this shift took almost 50 years, the long process of changing the norm also increased the first worlds expectation of cleanliness. This heightened sensitivity to cleanliness has resulted in peoples perception of what is acceptable. Today if you choose to use cloth diapers you are considered to be barking mad or obviously the most on unclean person on the planet. The better discussion to have is, where does underwear come in play with this discussion.
Underwear or Undergarments have been traced as far back to 5000BC where the common textile of choice was leather. Recently a discussion came about with a good friend about hand me downs. Since we now have twins on the way, hand me downs are now going to be a pillar of our vocabulary when it comes to providing clothing for new the little ones. Universally, almost all of child's wardrobe is recycled or handed down. Except one item, Underwear. Or so I thought. My initial reaction to the topic is “No” to passing down underwear.
Our conversation was very interesting and it sparked my interest to find out everyones take on the subject. So I took to Facebook and posted a question to the community on my wall. I wasn’t surprised to see the vast majority say no to handing down one child's underwear to a younger sibling. Only 2 parents actually agreed with my friend and after our initial discussion, not including myself. Yes, I moved to the dark-side. See my issue with just throwing way kids underwear is the fact that they are not cheap. Especially the well-made garments. I am not talking about the cheap white Haines or Gap underwear which is $12 for pack of 6. I am talking about the nice underwear made by retailers to spend money on their products so they don’t fall apart after the 10th or 12th wash.
Yes I purchased a lot of P’s underwear because it’s cool looking but also because they’re made of quality fabric, like 100% cotton. Her underwear drawer is predominantly filled with undies from Mini Boden. Their 7-pack is usually priced around $35. Then there are the Stella McCartney undies that I bought a while back which were over $40 for a 7-pack. In my conversation with my friend she pointed out that when were babies, our parents used cloth diapers and those diapers were washed and reused on a regular basis. After we were out of diapers our parents held onto those cloth diapers and used them for other siblings or they used them as cleaning cloths around the house.
When P. was a baby we did use disposable because of the convenience of throwing away instead of having to cleaning cloth diapers or pay for an expensive diaper service. One thing I made certain was to use Nature Baby Care which was the only biodegradable diaper on the market at the time. It’s been at least 2 years since we stopped using diapers. Today there are now 3 brands available. Honestly, that’s pathetic only two companies have broken into biodegradable market in the last 2 years.
Moving back to the Facebook wall post. The discussion was passionate but when those two pro-posts were put up there, the claws came out. What I noticed is that people became very outspoken for their con-opinion about handing down underwear between siblings. The discussion got to personal and sadly I had to delete the discussion before someone regretted a response they posted in the heat of a moment. What is interesting is the push back on those who thought handing down underwear was no different than centuries use of the cloth diaper was a sign of how the majority of our society has prescribed to the notion “if it’s dirty, just throw it away”. It the honest truth that North American’s are the kings of use and pitch. I am just as guilty as any other person. When I was little, if a pant was ripped or torn, my mother would sew a patch on to prolong the life of the garment. I will be the first to admit, today I would just throw it away. I am bad.
So ask yourself, is handing down underwear between siblings really that gross. Shit is Shit and Pee Stains are Pee Stains. 99% of the time it comes out in the wash. That 1% is just opening up additional options of its use other than being an undergarment. What do you think your mom or dads stash of cleaning rags were made up of?