As families near the start of another school year, they’re calculating out their various school expenses. In addition to typical school supply costs, families who send their children to private schools also need to factor in new school uniforms for their children. Many public school districts in underserved communities also use uniforms to help alleviate wardrobe costs. And children just don’t quit growing, am I right?
Uniform expenses are an often-overlooked expense in a family’s back-to-school budget. According to CostHelperEducation.com, the average standardized clothing uniform can cost anywhere from $25 to $200 per outfit. If your school requires a school-specific uniform (with embroidered logos or other distinctive elements), each outfit may cost anywhere from $100-$500. If you have more than one child who obviously needs more than one uniform, these expenses add up fast.
One mom at Ascension Episcopal School in Louisiana is helping families save money on uniforms.
The Ascension Uniform Swap Shop
Back in 2018, Nicole LeBlanc decided she wanted to send her daughter, Emrie, to Ascension Episcopal School. LeBlanc was a single mother at the time.
“It was important to me that she attend this school; therefore, I made financial sacrifices to make that happen,” LeBlanc shared. Uniforms were an added expense, so LeBlanc asked around to find out if there was anywhere nearby to get second-hand uniforms from other families. When she discovered that such a place didn’t exist, LeBlanc took matters into her own hands.
LeBlanc started the Ascension Episcopal Uniform Swap Shop Facebook Group so that Ascension families would have a place to buy, sell, or trade their gently used items. The group has grown to 277 members since it began back in 2018. Parents post the items they want to sell, trade, or give away, and other parents comment on each item they would like to claim. Families who take advantage of the group tend to save hundreds of dollars on uniforms, easing the strain on the back-to-school family budget.
The Swap Shop also made a big difference during a crisis last year, when many children and families were displaced due to hurricane activity. Several families needed to transfer their children to Ascension from another school that had been affected by hurricanes, and many Ascension families donated uniforms to these displaced children to help make their transition to the school easier.
From Fashion Waste to Sustainable School Uniforms
The Uniform Swap Shop concept also helps reduce waste in the fashion industry by reusing gently worn materials. Instead of these garments ending up in trash heaps somewhere else or discarded in a donation bin to turn up unused in another country, they are seeing a second, third, and even fourth life. According to Vogue Magazine, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, and overproduction and excess fabric waste is a significant topic the industry is trying to tackle. Reusing garments like the families at Ascension are doing helps reduce the reliance on new fashion manufacturing.
Families can do their part to reduce this waste by participating in similar uniform swap shops in their region, buying from thrift shops, exchanging clothes, or giving hand-me-downs to friends, and donating gently used items.
If your school doesn’t have such a program, consider starting one! You could help yourself and other families in your community save hundreds of dollars while also doing good for the environment.