How To Do Sustainable, Ethical Fashion (without getting a headache!)
As a family we try to be conscious of what we wear, use and purchase, and how we dispose of things, in order to be more environmentally friendly. One area in which we try to get as close to zero waste as possible is our clothing; as the girls are always growing it has pushed us to think about how we source their clothes. Here are our top tips for creating an ethical children’s wardrobe.
1. Invest in quality children’s fashion pieces
Instead of cheaply-made, poor quality clothes that are made to be used a few times and thrown away, invest a bit more money into a few pieces that are high quality and last a long time. French and Italian children’s clothes like this Catimini girls coat are often excellent quality and less likely to wear out or go out of fashion.
2. Be trend-savvy
Often a new, exciting and beautiful children’s trend will come up, and we of course want to get involved. However, in the ethical children’s fashion world this doesn’t mean rushing to the super-cheap fast fashion stores and stocking up. Instead of buying something that will go out of fashion fairly quickly (a whole dress in leopard print, for example) try picking an accessory such as a scarf or bag to go with your staple pieces (see point 2 above) that can be used a lot and will earn its keep.
3. Avoid fast fashion
This ties in with point 3, but there has been a recent explosion of fast fashion shops, especially online. These shops are not ethical, they often use cheap and exploitative labour and the sources are often not well tracked. The materials are cheap and poor quality, leading to the clothes wearing out or tearing quickly and ending up in landfill. Using an item of clothing for 9 months longer than the average wear (3 years) reduces its environmental impact by around 30%, so saying no to this industry and yes to quality ethical clothing is hugely impactful for the environment.
4. Mend children’s clothes
This seems obvious but it is not natural to many people to mend theirs or their children’s clothes. Our lives are so packed full of busyness that it can seem counterintuitive to spend time doing something like sewing or patching clothes rather than simply buying a replacement. I’ve found that since trying to mend our clothes it’s actually become a good way to relax, as it takes a bit of concentration and a moment to just sit and ‘be’. Our middle daughter has started really enjoying sewing and always asks to sew up any tears in her clothes rather than buy new ones, and it’s lovely to see that this is becoming her default attitude.
5. Know your children’s fashion brands
It can be tricky sussing out which children’s clothes brands offer sustainable fashion options, and what I’ve found is that there aren’t a lot of brands which are 100% ethical. However it is quite easy to find ranges that are more ethical than others, and brands that try to do their bit for the environment in many different ways. H&M released a ‘conscious’ range with children’s comfy cotton sweatshirts, for example, and People Tree use Fair Trade to ensure their suppliers are treated fairly.
6. Buy second-hand
I’ve never had an issue with buying anything second-hand; there are so many benefits is almost impossible to count them! We buy clothes from eBay and charity shops- they are always cheaper than buying new, they stop clothes going to landfill and you get what you want while saving money. Good sites to buy sustainable clothes second-hand include eBay, Gumtree and the Facebook marketplace.
7. Pick your washing powder
There are some great options for organic washing products now that reduce our children’s exposure to harmful chemicals and help keep our water cleaner! Soap are a gentle, effective way to clean children’s clothes without harsh chemicals, and are also available at an extremely low per-wash cost (just 3p!) They are completely biodegradable, organic and vegan-friendly.
I hope these tips are helpful in moving towards a more sustainable fashion wardrobe for children! I’d love to hear your sustainable and ethical kids’ fashion tips in the comments below.