Growth spurts, skinned knees and ripped jeans. Kids grow out of and go through (sometimes quite literally) clothes quickly. One day something fits and the next, it’s too small. This is why a lot of parents go the fast fashion route for their kid’s wardrobes. Cute, cheap, easy. But clothes shouldn’t be disposable, especially when they’re made with and coated in chemicals, as many major labels’ products are. So how can you protect your kids’ health while dressing them in cute clothes that will last? Buy better, buy less andbuy basics—buy super soft, organic kids’ clothing.
What makes clothing organic?
Let’s start with the first part: buying better clothes. This means better quality, better for everyone’s health and wellbeing, and better for the earth. Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides and farmers often follow fair trade and fair labour practices. Organic kids’ clothes may also beGOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified, meaning that the products meet a list of criteria set out by the Global Organic Textile Standard International Working Group. This list includes the following criteria:that the material must be at least 95 per cent organic, processed in a separate area from conventional products, free of harsh chemicals and GMOs and the facility must meet fair labour standards. See? These clothes aren’t just better for your family, they’re ethically sourced and eco-friendly.
Not all organic children’s clothing will be GOTS certified but make sure that the companies behind the clothes you’re buying outline their manufacturing and labour practices. If they’re selling organic, ethically-sourced, eco-friendly clothes, you’ll find that information on labels, tags and websites. For instance, UK kids’ organic clothing label Little Green Radicals buy 100 per cent organic, fairtrade cotton and display the Fairtrade icon on their website and their fabric clothing tags read “made from 100% organic fairtrade cotton.” Manufacturers and designers are proud to be organic!
Buy less so you can spend more
Organic cotton is soft. It’s softer and more, well, natural feeling than other synthetic fibers or even cotton treated with harsh chemicals or coated in formaldehyde to keep it looking fresh. Let’s be honest, knowing this, which fabric would you choose to put against your child’s skin (or your own, for that matter)? It feels better, often looks better in the long run and is better for the earth. But, yes, it costs more. It costs more for all the awesome reasons above: eco-friendly, ethically-sourced and chemical-free.
Sometimes doing things better costs a bit more (but doing things worse costs our health and the environment). But wouldn’t you feel better spending $40 on a T-shirt, knowing that no children were involved in making it than spending $5 and wondering who made it, what the working conditions were and what chemicals it’s coated in?
So how do you spend more and buy less without having your kids go nude? Shop smart and buy basics. Children’s clothing should be versatile so it can be worn in different ways or layered with other pieces. The best part about this is that kids rarely (or never) have to wear clothing that would be considered office-appropriate. They love bright colours and whimsical patterns and look great in them. Don’t you wish you could wear a pirate-printed onesie to work?
Choose colours and patterns that coordinate and pieces that can be mixed and matched in multiple outfits. Maybe that’s making the decision that all of your kid’s bottoms will be solid colours and their tops can be either patterned or solid, so that each top can be worn with every bottom. Or perhaps it’s choosing a simple colour palette and buying clothes within that palette so that everything matches. Or maybe it’s just throwing caution to the wind and going wild with colours and patterns because being a kid and dressing like one should be fun!
Buying basics doesn’t have to mean neutral colours, but it should mean that the clothes aren’t advertisements for cartoon companies, so that kids don’t mentally grow out of their clothes before they physically do. Buying gender neutral clothes—which usually means not dripping in pink, glitter or super heroes—is also a good idea. Clothes are easier to hand down to siblings, relatives or friends, or even resold, if they’re not emblazoned with outdated cartoon characters. And of course, recycling clothes is another way to add warm, fuzzy feelings to the cycle of your organic kids clothing!
How to wash kids’ clothes
Kids can be hard on their clothes, so you may not be able to hand wash them all (and who has the time?). The beauty is that most organic kids’ clothes are made of cotton, which is easy to wash. Plus, without the harsh chemicals that can degrade fabric, organic cotton can last for years. Here’s how to keep it fresh, bright and looking new, even when it becomes a hand-me-down.
Wash in warm (or even cold), not hot water. London, UK-based Boys & Girls Shop recommends that their 100 per cent GOTS certified cotton be washed at 30 degrees Celsius instead of the usual 40 degrees. For the first few washes, separate dark and light colours and turn clothes with a pattern or print inside out to lock in the colour.Never use bleach and avoid harsh detergents as both can be hard on organic clothing. If you’re buying organic, use an eco-friendly laundry detergent, too!
If possible, hang organic clothes to dry. Conventional cotton is treated with chemicals that prevent it from shrinking whereas organic cotton is not so washing in hot water and drying in high heat could cause shrinkage and fading. Obviously, air drying or hanging isn’t always convent with little ones, so use your dryer on a low or even air dry setting when those clothes need to be dry—and fast.
Take great care of your kids’ organic clothing because you invested a little extra in it and it will give you years of great style, bright colours and happy memories!
Where can you get organic kids’ clothing in Canada?
Lucky for us parents, a Toronto Mom who struggled with finding ethically sourced organic clothes in Canada did something about it! She launched Modern Rascals as an online shop that features global brands in funky patterns. The best part? Canadian dollars and no-cross border shipping (hello not having your package sit in customs for 3 weeks).
Your kids will love wearing the soft, chemical-free cotton that is more durable than the fast-fashion brands. And you’ll love knowing that you’ve made a commitment to healthy choices, ethical working conditions, and the environment.
Do You Purchase Organic Clothing for You or Your Kids?
— Journeys of The Zoo (@zoojourneys) April 27, 2017
Jana Reid is the owner of Modern Rascals. She is a knitter, spinner, quilter, and mama to two tiny humans. She has a MBA and left the corporate world to try and find better balance, both for herself and her kids. Modern Rascals became a real project a year ago (and not just an idea that she tossed around late at night when talking with her partner), after people began stopping me on the street to ask where she found her kids’ clothes.
Disclosure: This is a Guest Post. Journeys of The Zoo did not receive any compensation for sharing about this company.