Raising Less Wasteful Kids—Starting with One Red Hand-Me-Down Jacket
The jacket was probably red once but it’s now more of a muddy pink with an overlay of permanent scuff and smudge. The zipper, replaced four years ago, stands out a little brighter. The interior sports a size tag (Kids XXS) but has no hand-me-down label—it predates that Patagonia tradition. Around 13 years ago, it made its debut on Kyle Anderson’s 4-year-old brother, Huck. Kyle, who was about 20 at the time, remembers teaching Huck to snowboard, leading the then-red jacket around Crested Butte’s ski area.
Today, the same puffy jacket is as much a part of the extended Anderson family as whichever kid is wearing it. Now serving its fifth confirmed owner, it was probably worn by a cousin or two as well. Cormac “Mac” Anderson, Kyle’s youngest child, is the one presently putting the thing through its paces. He follows his dad (a former semipro snowboarder) around the mountain and regularly into the backcountry.
Kyle figures Mac got 40-plus days of snowboarding in this winter. At age 3.
What dedicated kids and parents pull off makes us here at Patagonia wonder what else is possible. If we can hand down to our kids a mindset that makes no assumptions about what they can or can’t do on a snowboard at age 3, think of what else we could pass on. Can we help our kids imagine that their relationship to clothes—or any other material thing for that matter—could be less wasteful and more thoughtful? Less consumptive and more communal? That your “new” jacket is not actually new, it’s just new to you. Could kids be OK with that? Could they embrace the idea that a patch or a stitch might have more cachet and certainly more stories to tell than a jacket with a tag that says “new”?
Not many garments can make it 13 years through a string of hard-charging mountain kids. The Andersons’ red puffy lives on, with a little love and a bright new zipper from our Reno repair center. The sleeves are still long on Mac and the hood slips over his eyes every so often, but both jacket and kid are unfazed.
“Mac, what happens when you grow out of this jacket?”
“Then I will give it to someone else.”
“Who will that be?”
“Don’t you think it’ll be a little small for him?”
“Then I’ll give it to a tree.”
“Do you think the tree will need it?”
“No … a tree won’t need it. I’ll give it to a baby cousin. But it’ll probably be too big.”
True. But not for long.
This story first appeared in the Fall 2017 Patagonia Catalog. Have an old jacket you’d like to keep in play? Visit wornwear.com to trade in your used Patagonia clothing for store credit or shop our selection of quality used clothing and gear.