This article was written in conjunction with Australian-owned organic baby and kids clothing label Aster & Oak.
Looking to dress your children in an eco-friendlier way? We bring you five ways to clothe your kids sustainably.
We all have high ideals when it comes to living sustainably, but once kids are on the scene, adhering to a strict zero waste lifestyle becomes a little trickier.
Suddenly we find ourselves with more “stuff” than we would like, and our home quickly fills up with prams, cots, bikes and toys. Kids seem to endlessly need new clothes, and no sooner do they have something new, they have grown out of it again!
There are ways, however, to minimise the clothing waste your home produces and avoid the endless cycle of buy/wear/discard which results in ever-increasing amounts of textiles end up in landfill.
Read on to discover the five ways to clothe your kids sustainably.
Source clothing second-hand
Buying second-hand clothing is the most eco-conscious decision you can make when it comes to clothing your children (and yourself!).
While once upon a time you had to scour charity stores in person looking for items that were in good condition, these days there are a plethora of websites for you to source good quality, second-hand clothing. And a lot of this clothing has only been minimally worn.
Facebook Marketplace, eBay and speciality second-hand online clothing store like this one make finding sustainable clothing for your kids super easy.
Learn how to mend (or make) your kids’ clothes
In our grandparents’ day, mending was common practise. This generation knew that simply throwing away a garment when it had a small defect (a small hole or a frayed collar) was not only incredibly wasteful, but it was also unnecessary.
Encouragingly, modern-day mending is on the rise, with a growing contingent of eco warriors armed with their sewing kits championing the cause.
Books like ‘Joyful Mending: Visible Repairs for the Perfectly Imperfect Things We Love!’ by Noriko Misumi,‘The Art of Repair: How to stitch old things to new life’ by Molly Martin and ‘Modern Mending: Minimise waste and maximise style’ by Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald have all been released in the past two years to cater for this growing interest.
Choose natural fabrics
Two-thirds of new clothing produced today is made from synthetic fibres like polyester, nylon, spandex and acrylic, which are derived from fossil fuels. In 2013, two-thirds of apparel fibre used to make clothes were synthetic and cellulose fibres, while natural fibres made up the other third. Just a decade earlier it was half and half.
These fabrics are the largest source of microplastic fibres in the ocean – largely put there via our washing machines – which not only detrimentally effects ocean life, those microplastics end up coming back to us through the food chain when we consume seafood.
Which sourcing clothing, choose natural fibres, such as linen, wool and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton, as this will take the guesswork out of the production practices used in the manufacturing of those clothes (GOTS certification for example, requires brands to adhere to strict environmental production standards).
Buy from sustainable, eco-friendly brands
When you can’t find the exact item you’re after for your kids second-hand, choosing to buy good quality clothing that will last, from a reputable company that has proven ethical standards, is the next best option.
Look for brands which feature clothing made from organic materials and natural fibres, and take note of their manufacturing processes – the dyes used, the energy consumed during manufacturing and the welfare of those involved in the production process. Most ethical brands will be transparent with this information if they’re legit.
You can either email the brands directly or download the Good On You app, which provides ethical ratings for thousands of popular fashion brands, or visit Ethical Clothing Australia to search for an ethical manufacturer.
Look after clothing
When it comes to your kid’s clothing, bestowing plenty of TLC so that it lasts for longer is crucial.
Yes, clothing will take a battering (every parent knows it’s always pants knees that go first… this is when mending comes in!) but ensuring you wash less often (when airing clothing out would suffice), and always washing on cold with a gentle, eco-friendly washing powder (or making your own) will go a long way to making clothing last.
Not only that, washing less saves water and energy. Bonus!