Clothing and fashion choices tend to be an area with which many green parents struggle. You’ve got recycling, upcycling, buying organic food, trusting natural medicine, removing toxins from your home, and teaching your children about conservation covered. But chances are, your clothing and your children’s clothing may come from unsustainable crops, fabrics treated with chemicals, or factories with unfair labor practices.
You might be thinking you just simply can’t add one more cause to your life and that you already work very hard to be as green as possible. I’m not telling you to completely stop shopping for clothes at Target, Gap, or wherever you already shop, but as we green mamas all know, every little bit of change can make a big impact. So here are three easy ways to start incorporating more ‘green’ into your family’s closets.
1) Organic cotton: There are many benefits to selecting organic cotton. Conventional cotton tends to be one of the most highly chemically treated crops, which depletes the soil’s natural resources and ultimately delivers chemicals straight to your baby’s skin. Organic cotton is non-GMO and typically fair trade certified, further ensuring an overall minimized impact to the Earth. Further, many companies that use organic cotton for their garments are environmentally conscious and practice responsible business across the spectrum. I’d certainly rather give my money to a company that is doing good for the Earth, than to one notorious for mistreating laborers.
There are dozens of options for buying organic cotton clothing. They do tend to be slightly more expensive than other name brands, but overall the durability and stability of the final product will be much more reliable with organic cotton than conventional cotton. A few of my favorites for baby and kid clothing include Kate Quinn Organics, Winter Water Factory, Under The Nile and La Queue du Chat. Hanna Andersson, Redfish Kids and Kiwi Industries are a few more that are high quality and fair prices.
2) Alternative fabrics: Hemp, bamboo, silk, wool, linen, and organic soy are all being used to make sustainable textiles. These materials are natural and/or don’t require pesticides to grow in high volume. Bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial and is one of the most sustainable crops, because it grows and replenishes very quickly. Considering the many options for sustainable fabrics, you don’t have to sacrifice style or comfort to dress green.
Sustainable Kids and Kickee Pants are great options offering children’s clothing made from bamboo and hemp blends. Just keep these alternative fabrics in mind the next time you go shopping and know that you are making a more responsible choice. More and more designers are popping up featuring eco-friendly practices and fabrics for babies, kids, women and men. It’s becoming easier than ever to dress your entire family without the guilt or worry about the social and environmental cost of your clothing.
3) Pre-loved: Nothing is greener than upcycling and reusing. I often joke about how my youngest son is so neglected in the clothing department. Much of what he wears is handed down from his older brother, who received most of his clothes as hand-me-downs from friends or the consignment store. But my rough and tumble boys have proven that a good pair of jeans, or pajamas are usually tough enough to withstand the wear and tear of multiple children.
Gently used clothing is surely the most affordable option for outfitting your family. It should definitely be your go-to if the organic cotton clothing lines are out of your price range. I always welcome hand-me-downs from friends and family members; even if I can’t use everything they give, it’s still worth the few gems that have been loved just a little.
In addition to the money you save from not buying brand new, pre-loved clothing has serious environmental benefits. For one, you are minimizing your overall footprint by consuming less and keeping stuff out of landfills. Secondly, many of the chemicals that were on the fabric have largely been washed off over time, making it a safe choice, especially for young babies.
Just remember, you don’t need to start feeling guilty for snatching up that awesome deal at the department store, and you certainly don’t need to make a complete overhaul to your wardrobe. Simply increasing your awareness about how our clothing is manufactured, and buying even just one organic garment for the upcoming season will make a difference.
Ashley Allman, Author of Ash & Alys Babes
Ashley Allman is a Seattle-based writer and co-founder of online natural products boutique, Ash & Alys Babes. She spends most of her time playing house with her two spirited sons, husband and two dogs, all of whom she uses for inspiration in every aspect of life. Ashley is committed to raising her children green and focuses a great deal of energy on feeding her children a healthy diet and raising them to be responsible and thankful stewards of this beautiful Creation. Ashley has a B.A. in Journalism, has written for newspapers and magazines and has worked in public relations for 10 years.