10 ways to make your child's wardrobe more sustainable
Sustainability can mean several things but within the fashion industry it's defined as garments and accessories that are produced in the most environmentally friendly way possible, however it doesn’t stop at the end of the production line.
How we shop and care for our clothing as consumers also contributes to the sustainability of the fashion industry. Every single fashion item has a life cycle and, as the world becomes more and more eco-conscious, we are also becoming curious about how we can become more sustainable when it comes to our wardrobes and, most importantly, those of our children.
Learn in more detail the definition of sustainability in our feature - What is Sustainability?
Sustainability in the fashion industry
Outgrown clothing is a big issue when it comes to children. The growth of a newborn baby to a three year old toddler will require seven sizes within that three year time frame. This extensive process of continually buying clothes for babies and children - unless you donate or pass them on - results in a huge amount of clothing being thrown away and sent to landfill.
Our infographic below displays some of the statistics within the clothing industry, followed by our 10-way guide to help make your child's wardrobe become more sustainable.
1. Shop sustainable fashion brands
The practice of ethical sourcing and the production of sustainable clothing is becoming increasingly popular and sought after amongst families. Sustainable fashion brands use materials and finishes that are kinder to the environment, which allow for a much more eco-friendly wardrobe.
The clothing is also generally better quality and lasts much longer, which means a reduction in waste and the amount of clothing you need to buy for your children.
Tip: On our website, you will find our ‘earth friendly’ product filter, which will provide you with all of our sustainable products from a range of designers.
Some of our eco-friendly brands include:
Recycled polyester is increasingly popular as brands choose to use this eco-friendly alternative in their garments. Burberry champions recycled polyester in their coats and jackets in addition to quilted skirts, backpacks, joggers and more, available on our website.
Stella McCartney Kids
Stella McCartney was one of the first brands to work towards sustainability over 20 years ago. Not only are the Stella McCartney stores and offices powered by renewable energy, but recycling is also a key point for the brand, with on average, 34.3 tons of waste being reused for their textiles. Our Stella McCartney Kids collection includes many organic cotton and recycled polyester garments.
Learn about The Stella McCartney Kids' Commitment to Sustainability in our feature on the brand.
Read more about the iconic designer herself in our exclusive interview with Stella McCartney
With a modern approach to fashion, Molo creates clothing with a conscience. GOTS-certified, organic, recycled, are all words you will see in our Molo product descriptions. The brand works towards their ‘10 principles of UN Global Compact’ which allows their suppliers to follow their sustainable code of conduct. The eco-friendly range also has products that are free from harmful and allergenic chemicals.
Founded in the UK, Frugi is a great example of one of our eco-conscious brands as they focus largely on the production of organic cotton clothing for children. This replacement of conventional cotton is used throughout their collection, which includes T-shirts, pyjamas, dresses, joggers and much more. They also have a selection of lunch bags, backpacks and rain trousers, all lovingly made with recycled polyester.
Other eco-conscious brands within our selection of designers include:
3. Mini Rodini
5. Tommy Hilfiger
1. Petit Bateau
3. My Little Pie
4. Carrément Beau
5. The Bonnie Mob
2. Embrace minimalism and create a capsule wardrobe
What is a capsule wardrobe? A capsule wardrobe is the process of buying a set number of garments that you can mix and match with others to create multiple outfits. It is a great option for when a new season arrives. A wardrobe capsule keeps things very simple.
There are no set rules on how many items you need to build your capsule as it depends on the child, their gender, age and so on.
We've put together some quantities to give you an idea of how a wardrobe capsule could work:
- 3 x tops
- 3 x trousers and/or skirts
- 3 x all-in-ones (dungarees, rompers, playsuits, dresses)
- 2 x jackets/coats
- A selection of matching accessories (hats, headbands, socks, etc.)
3. Choose sustainable fabrics
Becoming aware of the materials that you are buying for your children means more sustainable purchases. Here are a few examples of eco-friendly fabrics:
- Cotton, for example, needs around 250 bathtubs full of water to make one T-shirt. For a more eco-conscious choice, you can swap your usual cotton purchases to organic cotton which uses 71% less water compared to conventional cotton.
- Replacing synthetic materials like polyester and nylon with recycled options is a great way to make your kids' wardrobe more sustainable. Plastic bottles are the most common source of recycled polyester. Recycled nylon typically comes from fabric waste and fishing nets.
- Tencel is made up of chemicals that are 99% recycled. It is also fully biodegradable.
- Linen is one of the most sustainable fabric choices as it requires less water than most materials.
Read our blog on sustainable fabrics, where we discuss clothing materials and the most sustainable options.
4. Take care of your kids’ clothing
According to loveyourclothes.org.uk around one third of the British population own clothes they no longer wear. Unfortunately, this is often a result of damage from incorrect care.
Caring for your kid's clothing correctly will not only increase the longevity of the garment but reduce the risk of clothes becoming unwearable. This also minimises the need to buy new clothes to replace them!
Here are a few ways you can increase the lifespan and care for your kid's clothing:
- Pay attention to care labels
Loveyourclothes.org.uk have partnered with Ariel and created a Know Your Care Labels quiz and guide – you can use this to gain a deeper understanding of the care labels.
- Wash at lower temperatures
Washing clothes at higher temperatures can decrease their lifespan. Washing at lower temperatures not only preserves the quality but it decreases the risk of shrinking, stretching and losing its colour and shape.
- Use eco-laundry washing products
Consider using an eco-friendly detergent option. Eco-friendly laundry products help to reduce the wear and tear of your garments in each wash, making them last a lot longer. Colour preservation products also contribute to longevity and fabric conditioners will help to maintain the colour and increase the life of your clothing.
- Wash their clothes inside out
We know that washing particular items of clothing, such as dark jeans, printed T-shirts and delicate fabrics, inside out is a great way to preserve their quality. However, almost all clothing can benefit from this method. Teaching your children this and getting them to turn their clothing inside out prior to washing is a great sustainability lesson to teach.
- Air dry their clothes instead of using a dryer
Stay as far away as possible from hot temperatures. Hot dryers are the number one culprit to damaging the quality of clothing and shrinkage. It can also cause them to become misshapen as well as damaging prints and graphics.
- Store the clothes away
Even if the clothes are not being worn, treat them as if they are. Encourage children to hang them up rather than simply throwing them on the chair or floor in a heap. This will keep the clothes looking fresh and guarantee the quality for longer.
5. Repairing and re-working clothing
Kids will be kids and clothes are bound to get worn and torn but you can always repair or rework them. In addition to sewing damaged clothing, when they grow out of them, consider reworking them – for example, you can change dresses into tops or jeans into shorts and so on to ensure they get more wear.
6. Wash your clothes sustainably
Did you know that washing your clothes has a significant impact on the environment? Becoming more eco-conscious when it comes to doing the laundry in your family household is a great way to be more sustainable.
- Only wash your kids clothes when you really have to. Not only does it save energy and water but the more you wash them, the more they will fade, stretch or shrink.
- Some items of clothing can be hand washed or spot cleaned, this will reduce your washing pile and is more eco-friendly as it uses less water.
- Wash at a low temperature of 30°C. This uses 40% less energy than washing at higher temperatures.
- Less is more when it comes to washing detergent – adding extra does more harm to the clothing and will reduce their lifespan.
7. Buy one to two sizes bigger for your child and rewear smaller sizes
With the average lifespan of an item being approximately 2.2 years, consider buying one to two sizes bigger for your child. This will increase the usage as they will be able to wear it over a longer period of time.
Smaller children have less body shape - chest and hips, etc - so consider hacks such as allowing girls to wear dresses as tops for as long as they can. Also, where possible, always hand down clothing from older siblings to the younger members of the family and children of friends.
Always pass clothing on to local charity shops, clothing banks, and children's nurseries, where they always need spares. The longer the lifespan, the better.
9. Re-sell clothes
A good place to start is online resale sites. There are also several mobile apps where you can buy and trade clothing.
10. Choose well made items
Buy well-made items that will last you a lot longer. When it comes to sustainability in your kids' wardrobes, think quality over quantity! Not only is the longevity of the garment increased but it also reduces the amount of clothing that you need to repurchase for your children. Sometimes, spending that little extra money is worth it in the long run. Many experts agree that high-quality clothing is a much more sustainable choice as these garments become lasting clothing staples.
Tip: Creating a minimalist wardrobe with higher-quality clothing is a great way to make their wardrobes more sustainable
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