Ethical and Sustainable Choices In Children’s Clothing

An unusually warm April has meant getting organised on the boys summer wardrobes rather quicker than anticipated. Since I run a non-profit clothing library in my spare time, this has of course been the first point of call. However, our stock of boys clothing as been loaned out rapidly this season and donations in larger sizes ( 2 years plus) have been very thin on the ground. As ever, secondhand bundles are our go-to choice when we need new clothes for the boys- they have the smallest impact on the environment (and are kind on the purse too), but there are still some clothing items which I prefer to buy new ( underwear immediately springs to mind) or I simply haven’t been able to get despite extensive searches ( pyjamas and long, loose trousers for my toddler).

Handling so many donations of clothing makes me keenly aware of the quality and longevity of each brand of children’s clothes – some brands are so poorly made that they do not survive even a handful of washes or have rough seams inside which could irritate a child’s delicate skin. When we do have to buy new for our boys, we try our best to buy clothes which will be able to be passed on many times. I’m also lucky to have had the benefit of both a mum and grandma who could show me how to repair clothes, toddlers seem to go through the knees of trousers at an astonishing rate! The most common repair I make is to patch trousers -I use iron on material and then stitch the outside for extra strength. Many of the better quality clothing manufacturers are now using patches in knees as a design feature, a very welcome development when trying to clothe two lively boys!

Another important consideration is how the clothes have been produced and the lives of the workers who have manufactured our clothes. Just this month, a report in The Guardian newspaper highlighted a huge number of clothing manufacturers who had been left without the means to pay their workforce when UK fashion firms ( including Matalan, Primark and the Edinburgh Woolen Mill) cancelled orders which had already been produced, meaning that more than a million garment workers in Bangladesh were sent home without pay. The report had also named firms such as Marks and Spencer and Tesco- who have since pledged to honour their orders . You can add to the voices of people who are demanding action here.

Buying new clothes which are both ethically produced and more sustainable can be difficult- most of the better brands are not found on the high street, but I will include a short list below of the ones we use. These are more expensive than many high street brands, but since we source the vast majority of the boys clothes pre-loved, we think it is worth the investment. In addition, organic cotton is also thicker, softer and far longer lasting and is definitely worth the additional cost.

Didriksons

Thanks to some pointers from our local Steiner school we buy all of the boys outdoor gear from Didriksons – they are by far the best waterproofs- essential in an area with an average 146 days of rain each year! They are also very hard-wearing and each set will be passed on many times.

Frugi

Beautiful, fun children’s clothing which is organic, sustainably sourced and ethically produced. This summer we have invested in three pairs of parsnip pants – perfect for going over a cloth nappy, some super soft PJs and the thickest, softest underwear I have ever seen for children.

Little Green Sheep

This has been our go to site for bedding and cot mattresses. Beautifully soft organic cottons and wools.

Babipur

Based in Wales, this online store is an Aladin’s cave of clothes, nappies, cups, toys and home-wear, every item is carefully chosen to ensure that it is ethically produced and more sustainable- a truly tempting selection!

Meanwhile at the terraced house I am still helping to ensure as many clothes as possible are reused. I can’t open the clothing library from the usual place at the moment due to COVID 19- however, I am now running a mobile service and delivering our gorgeous boxes of lovely clothes!

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