As we sail through August there is no getting away from the fact the return to school isn’t far away and uniform purchases are looming. The costs can quickly add up, especially when considering branded uniforms which tend to be more expensive. However, there are sustainable and budget-friendly solutions to this predicament – sourcing school uniforms second-hand. In this blog, we will explore the best methods for finding both branded and generic second-hand school uniforms, enabling you to save money while also reducing your environmental impact.With around 5.5 million children heading back to primary school lots of us will be looking for the best ways to source school uniforms ethically.

I have a few different avenues for you to check out for uniforms but first I want you to think about your children’s current uniforms. What have you done with last years uniforms? Have you checked if any items still fit or assumed it all needs to be replaced? My children normally get 2 years out of a school jumper and t-shirt so we keep last years jumpers and t-shirts as this years spares and buy 1 new jumper per child (annoyingly until this year, our school never offered a swap shop!).

If you have a school that doesn’t require branded uniforms with school logos you are onto a winner. It is much easier to source these items second hand than schools with school crests and the like. Branded uniforms usually need to be sourced locally.

Hand Me Downs:

This one can have people turn their noses up a bit. Nobody wants to feel like they are the poor friend but the reality is it isn’t about being poor friend any more. People want to see uniforms being used to their full potential and I for one will happily offer our pre loved uniforms to friends for their younger children to make use of. I love that it saves my friends money but also that the uniform is serving a purpose. We have also been fortunate to be offered second hand uniform items from family members too. I really do get joy from knowing a uniform has been used by 2 or 3 family members.

School Swap Shop or Second Hand Sale:

If you are lucky, your local PTA might have a swap shop or second hand sale this month. The theory being that everyone donates their old school uniform items that are still in a wearable condition and can in return take either free items to the quantity of what they donated or pay a small fee such as £1 per item. While my kids primary school didn’t offer a swap shop, my eldests grammar school did. We made great use of it and traded her school skirt and jumper she had outgrown for the next sizes up. She also donated her P.E. Uniform too but as she is very petite she was unable to get a swap so we bought her a new one.

Thrift and Charity Shops:

These are great for generic school items. Shirts, pinafores, summer dresses and even school bags are reasonably easy to find second hand. Often the charity shops will sort their uniform items into colours and have labels advising which schools items are right for.

  • Top Tip – If you find shirts and they seem in good condition but are a little greyed and can do with some brightening up, fear not! Soak your shirts in natural bleach overnight, launder and then pop them out in the sun for a day to bring their brightness back.

Online platforms:

Online market places are an easy win for second hand staples such as pinafores, school trousers, shirts and generic cardigans or jumpers. With apps such as Ebay and Vinted, I also like how easy it is to search for a particular brand of uniform and age range. We normally search for Marks and Spencer uniforms as we trust them to be well made and the garments to wear well without bobbles. Facebook Marketplace is another great option to source branded uniforms locally. There might not be as plentiful an offering as other online options but 100% always worth a look.

  • Top Tip – you can set an alert on Ebay and save your search on Vinted to make it each to find your items going forward even if they are not available the first time you look.

In short, embracing preloved can really help both the environment and your pocket. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing and we can mix new items which you will pass on in with our preloved finds. Lets keep those uniforms in circulation to be used to their full potential.

About Author

A green living mum of 3, Emmy is a purpose driven blogger trying to demystify sustainable living.

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