What is Eco Clothing?
In the last few years the words ‘Sustainable’ and ‘Eco’ have entered our lives in a range of different ways. One of the standouts of this is within the clothing and fashion industries. There have been documentaries and TV shows dedicated to exposing the trap of fast fashion and the waste that the fashion industry creates. And also there has been a growing awareness of asking the question of ‘where do you clothes come from?’ This is asked in every aspect of the garment, to the growing of the natural fabrics, to the creating of synthetics and then into the factories where the fabric is being made into clothing, and who is it being made by?
There are so many questions that come up when you look deeper into the fashion industry. While there has been a range of clothing brands who are either starting up and declaring they are ‘Ethical’ ‘Sustainable’ or ‘Eco’ most of these have been for adults and within that mostly aimed at woman’s fashion.
So while it’s easier to think of adults shopping less frequently and for better quality where does this leave kids?
From birth until teens children grow at a high rate. As a baby they may only spend one to two months in the same size of clothing, and then as a child they usually go through a size or two a year depending on their growth spurts. So while it’s all well and good for adults to buy less and better quality clothing that they can care for a wear for years to come, is it really a feasible thing to expect parents to buy ‘Eco’ or ‘sustainable’ for rapidly growing children?
Children grow at rapid rates, and are often growing out of their clothes within a year which means that they are constantly needing new clothing to fit their growing bodies. On top of that children who play and spend a lot of time outside are often wearing out their clothes before they even grow out of them. Clothes get covered in food stains and dirt stains, get ripped and torn from outdoor play, and wear in at the knees from all the running around and sliding on floors they do. So it’s pretty easy to see that kids are going through a lot of clothing.
This is all contributing to the clothing waste that we see clogging up landfills and polluting the earth, but can it be helped?
Why Buy Eco?
Buying clothing for children that is Eco and Sustainable could dramatically reduce waste and help to promote factories with good working conditions, organic farming of natural fibers used in clothing. On top of that, most Eco clothing is made with natural fibers which are better for children and they are more breathable and often more gentle on children’s sensitive skin. Eco clothing is also often made to a higher standard of quality and if cared for correctly would theoretically last longer than other cheaper made garments. On top of that, buying Eco is helping towards a more sustainable future for our children.
Buying Eco may sound like the obvious choice, and seems easy, but there are a few snags, such as availability and price that come into the equation.
Is It Financially Worth It?
With children growing out of clothes so quickly, is it really financially viable to pay up to $30 for an organic cotton T-shirt? This T-shirt may only fit the child for a year if cared for properly and if not could only last six months if not cared for properly. This is why most children’s fashion is bought from big chain stores that offer cheap prices for more disposable clothing, so that every time a shirt or pair of shorts wears out, parents are not having to break the bank to replace it. Buying fast cheaper fashion for kids on the surface does look like the better option financially. Cheaper clothing tends to wear out quicker, and when there is always great specials on clothes parents tend to find themselves buying more than they need for children and also buying things that are ‘on trend’ and ‘cool’ so kids don’t feel left behind. Buying ‘on trend’ clothing can also be damaging as just like adult fashion, kids clothing trends don’t always stick around for a long time and it’s not long before a 10 year old girl may be saying “I wouldn’t be caught dead in that dress!” after only wearing it for a few months. When clothing is cheaper it is easier to over spend and when everything looks like a bargain, not realize how quickly it all adds up. On the other hand Eco Clothing is not often too concerned with following trends but instead tends towards more timeless pieces that may not date as quickly as some fast fashion trends. It also has a reputation for a higher quality and as we know better made clothing often lasts longer. If cared for in the right way Eco clothing would be more readily available to use as hand me downs or taken to charity shops to be worn again. So in the long run perhaps buying fewer but better quality and ethically conscious clothing could work out at a similar price.
What You Can Do To Cut Down On Waste
As clothing is a huge contributing factor to pollution and waste in these modern days it’s good to have a look at how you can help in cutting down the waste of clothing.
Buying Eco and sustainable clothing can definitely help, because the process of making these garments often have less waste and pollution involved from the ground level. But once you have these items it is important that you care from them properly. Buy buying less but better quality you can reduce your imprint and also buying washing clothes on hand wash or gentle settings that don’t wear the fabrics out too quickly. There is also teaching kids to be accountable for their clothing, if they know they will be doing dirty or rough play, to wear older clothing that is already being worn out so as to not wear out new clothes faster.
If buying ethical or sustainable just doesn’t fit into your budget these same principles still apply. Taking care of garments correctly and teaching kids to respect their clothing more.
Another great way of dressing kids more sustainability is through hand me downs, which can be done with all clothes, provided they are well cared for. If the clothing is also more of a timeless style, kids will be more inclined to wear hand me downs whereas if you are buying only clothing on ‘tend’ kids will soon tire of it and the younger children will be less likely to wear wheat they see as ‘last years fashion.’ So providing children with more timeless cuts and patterns in clothing can help prolong the life of them.
Charity shops are also great places to go if you are looking for clothing for children. It is 100% Sustainable as you recycling. Charity shops often have great choice in the children’s sections. They can also be used in conjunction with buying Eco were, for example, buying nicer ‘special occasion’ or ‘staple’ items of clothing from eco stores and then everyday play clothing from charity shops so it doesn’t matter as much if these are worn out faster.
If your child has no younger siblings that hand me downs can be passed to it is also highly recommended that you take their old clothing that is still in good condition to charity shops so others will have the opportunity to cloth their children in a sustainable way.
Shopping For The Future
Shopping sustainably is shopping for the future. We are creating now the earth that our children will inherit and what a better way to help make it a better place for them than to reduce our waste and pollution in every way possible. Shopping for clothing sustainably can also help open up dialogues with children and teach them why it is so important to shop this way and take care of the earth. Teaching kids and each other to be more sustainable can only lead to a better and brighter future for our kids.