Sustainable fashion is a term that you’ve probably heard a lot recently. Almost every brand seems to be releasing a sustainable or eco-friendly collection. But what exactly does it mean? There are lots of steps fashion brands and consumers can take towards sustainability, but it’s important to realize the intention behind them. Sustainability is more than just a trend or a buzzword, it’s a way for the fashion industry to operate in a more positive manner. Read on to learn all about sustainable children’s wear.
Why sustainability is important
At Humble Children, we believe that living a sustainable lifestyle all boils down to respect. We only have one planet, and it should be treated with the kindness it deserves. Earth is a place filled with wonder and beauty. We want our children and future generations to enjoy it like we’ve been able to. Whether you’re a lover of sky high mountains and rugged forests or you’re a tropical beach baby, conservation is important.
Sustainability also ties into personal health. Conventional clothes are often made using harmful dyes and chemicals that can be absorbed into our skin. It’s important to protect children, whose developing bodies are especially vulnerable to chemicals and the potential health concerns they may cause. We all want our children to be happy and healthy. Choosing their clothing wisely will help with their overall wellbeing. Wearing natural fabrics is a great way to avoid the absorption of chemicals.
We do understand that it’s easy to overlook sustainability when we’re constantly presented with affordable and convenient options for all of our personal needs. Old habits can die hard, and it takes time and effort to make sustainable swaps. But once the adjustment period is over, we’d like to think you’ll never go back. Sustainable fashion is something that will provide you with long-lasting satisfaction. You’ll feel good about choosing items that are practical, timeless, high quality, and gentle on the planet.
How to shop sustainably: choosing quality over quantity
One of the easiest ways to shop sustainably is to remember the motto ‘quality over quantity’. Buying higher quality clothing in smaller quantities is one of the pillars of sustainability. Fashion brands and the media have always encouraged us to regularly refresh our wardrobes, making a massive wardrobe or a new outfit for every occasion the dream for many style-conscious individuals. We don’t deny that wearing a new outfit does create a feeling of excitement, but we also believe that clothes should be chosen with longevity in mind. Seek out timeless pieces that can be worn in many different ways rather than stocking up on lower quality pieces that will wear out after a few washes.
Many people believe that children’s clothing only needs to be worn for short periods of time. Kids grow so fast and they aren’t as careful with their clothing as adults are. While these are valid points, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep sustainability in mind when shopping for children’s clothing. Your little one may wear an article of clothing for a relatively brief period of time, but they don’t have to be the only child that gets to enjoy it. The beauty of high quality garments is that they can be passed down to future siblings, cousins, or friends.
Create a great foundation by stocking up on high quality basics that will stand the test of time. Special outfits can be treated as heirloom pieces that will be saved for future generations. Who knew that sentimentality was so closely linked to sustainability?
Natural fabrics vs synthetic fabrics
Natural fabrics might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of sustainable fashion, and for good reason. Materials play a big role in the sustainability factors of a garment. A garment made of an organic material will likely be manufactured in a more eco-friendly way than a synthetic material, and it will break down faster at the end of its life cycle.
The manufacturing process of synthetics tends to be harder on the planet than that of natural fabrics. Synthetics are derived from environmentally-damaging fossil fuels and require high levels of water and energy consumption to be created. This process can lead to excess waste that negatively impacts the surrounding environment. Once created, synthetic clothing is not biodegradable.
Natural fabrics are derived from plants and animals, and are relatively easy to process and manufacture. Though they are the more eco-friendly choice of the two types of material, natural fabrics have their own set of flaws. Fabrics like cotton can take up large amounts of land and water usage to produce. Pesticides may be used on the crops, and harmful dyes may be used during the production process. Be sure to seek out organic fabrics that have been produced with minimal amounts of water and chemicals.
The best natural fabrics to choose
Derived from the resilient flax plant, linen is a completely breathable and biodegradable fabric. Flax plants can grow in almost any type of soil and require less water to produce than cotton. Learn more about linen here.
Although cotton is a natural fabric, the conventional crop uses a high amount of insecticides and water consumption. Organic cotton, on the other hand, actually conserves land biodiversity and uses 71% less water and 62% less energy than conventional cotton.
It’s biodegradable, naturally flame and water resistant, and hypoallergenic. Wool has been the fabric of choice for cold weather clothing for centuries. Be sure to choose organic and ethically-sourced wool to ensure no sheep were harmed during the production process.
How to shop sustainably: ethical manufacturing
Ethical manufacturing ensures that clothes are produced under fair and safe conditions. A best practice is to ask more questions about where the clothes we are buying are coming from. Are these items being made by workers that are treated and paid fairly, all throughout the supply chain, or are people (sadly including children) being exploited? We need to consider the human cost to each and every piece of clothing we purchase.
At Humble Children, we research our brands to ensure the clothes we stock are ethically manufactured. Many of our brands are even certified through organisations such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) which ensures through third-party certification that they are socially responsible.
The benefits of second hand shopping
Another great way to shop for sustainable children’s wear is by choosing second hand clothing. Back in the day hand-me-downs had an unfavourable reputation, but nowadays people’s mindsets are changing. Terms like ‘vintage’ and ‘preloved’ are making second hand shopping cool. Forget about any preconceived notions you may have had about second hand clothes. You can find plenty of hand gems that are still in great condition. Second hand clothes tend to be more affordable, which make them a great option for home and nursery outfits. Plus, you’ll be saving clothes from the landfill. Talk about a win-win situation!
If you haven't already, check out our recent collaboration with a local embroiderer that took preloved pieces and gave them a second life with beautiful autumnal designs. View the Pincushion Embroidery x Humble Children collection here.
It's not easy, but it's definitely worthwhile
Remember that switching to a sustainable wardrobe for your little one will be a gradual transition. Don’t beat yourself up if you occasionally slip up. Every step you take towards a more sustainable lifestyle is a positive one, and you should be proud of yourself for choosing to shop in a more mindful manner.
Stay humble and shop for sustainable children’s clothes!
You can read more about sustainability at Humble Children here.