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Ethical Baby Clothes

September 2, 2008

 

In their first year, babies get through a lot of clothing! Prompted by environmental and ethical concerns about some of the mass-produced baby clothes available on the highstreet, I decided to investigate more environmentally-friendly and ethical clothing manufacturers. I’m pleased to say I managed to find a large number of alternatives and I’ve listed some of my favourite suppliers below, not to provide one long advert for them, but in an attempt to help anyone else who wants to buy more ethically but, like I was, isn’t sure where to start!

Fairtrade

Companies such as Primark and Gap have recently been the focus of investigations into the use of child labour in their factories. You can read about the poor working conditions in factories supplying certain UKThe Babe modeling her Bishopston Dungarees high street stores here but be warned, it makes very uncomfortable reading. The best way to ensure your baby’s clothing has been manufactured in an ethical way, is to opt for fairtrade clothing. My favourite online store is Bishopston Trading as their clothes are  organic, fairly traded and reasonably priced – check out their patchwork dungarees – very cute! Other places to buy fairtrade include Gossypium, People Tree and Makes a Change

Organic

The World Health Organization estimates that there are over 20,000 deaths each year as a result of pesticide poisoning. In addition, pesticides can contaminate water supplies, make land barren, kill wildlife and reduce biodiversity. Cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, so it’s best to buy organic. Thankfully, it is becoming increasingly easy to buy organic babywear and children’s clothing. Here are just a few of the many online suppliers out there:

Frugi

Green Baby

Ethical Babe

Little Green Earthlets

Bishopston Trading

Gossypium

Tatty Bumpkin

Clothes for Real Nappies

 

The babe modeling trousers from Frugi and a second hand top bought on ebay.

The babe modeling trousers from Frugi and a second hand top bought on ebay.

One of the challenges of real nappies is finding trousers that fit over them. Real nappies are much thicker than disposables and, as the majority of baby clothes are designed with disposable nappies in mind, finding trousers that aren’t too tight can be difficult. Leggings and skirts are good options for girls but if only trousers will do, then thankfully there is a company that specializes in clothing to fit ‘bigger bottoms’ – Frugi (previously called Cut4Cloth) produces some lovely baby clothes which are organic as well as being designed to fit over real nappies and I’d recommend checking out their range even if you’re not using real nappies. I’ve also found that Bishopston’s baby clothing accommodates ‘bigger bottoms’. 

Recycled

The companies mentioned above produce lovely clothes but, for someone like me who is on a tight budget, their big drawback is that most of them are more expensive than the baby clothes you’ll find on the high street. A single organic babygrow, for example, can cost more than a 3-pack from Mothercare. So, is there a way to buy more environmentally-friendly baby clothes without spending a fortune? Thankfully, yes – by buying second-hand clothing. In my baby’s wardrobe, there is clothing from Gap, Cherokee at Tesco and George at Asda. These are not companies I would usually give my custom to and the reason my daughter has clothes by them is because they are second hand, most of them bought on ebay or donated by friends with older children. As well as saving money, buying second-hand baby clothes is a great way of recycling. Babies grow so quickly in their first year that their clothes rarely get chance to become worn or show signs of wear and tear so you can pick up second-hand baby clothes that look as good as new.

Phew, all this modeling is tiring work! The babe models second-hand jeans and a jumper bought on ebay.

Phew, all this modeling is tiring work! The babe models second-hand jeans and a jumper bought on ebay.

 

Places to find second-hand baby clothes:

ebay

freecycle

local charity shops

NCT nearly new sales

Friends with older children

Make your own

If you’re skilled with your hands, then you might want to consider making your own baby clothing. If sewing is your thing, you should check out Bishopston’s fairly traded organic fabric which they sell by the metre. It’s great value and available in some gorgeous colours. Plus, it’s on sale at the moment! If you prefer to knit or crochet, then there are a number of organic cotton yarns on the market at the moment. You could also consider alternatives to cotton such as bamboo or hemp. If you want wool, then try to buy British – it’ll have a smaller carbon footprint and helps support a traditional british industry. 

I hope you’ve found this little piece helpful and interesting. If anyone has any other recommendations, please let me know by leaving a comment! Thanks very much. 

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