If you’re looking to green up your life a little, look to your baby’s wardrobe – there are loads of gorgeous clothes with great eco-credentials out there
As with so many other areas of our lives, nasty chemicals lurk within many of those cute outfits we buy for our babies, and their production methods leave a lot to be desired from an environmental point of view.
Consider this: a typical conventional cotton T-shirt uses about 150g of pesticides and insecticides, so buying even a couple of organic items is making a difference. Non-organic cotton farming uses about 25% of the world’s pesticides - but just 3% of the farmland. And it doesn’t just stop when the cotton’s been picked: more than 8,000 chemicals can be used to turn cotton into a T-shirt or duvet cover, including dyes, bleaches, softeners, flame retardants, etc. Factor in the health of the people producing all this and the fact that in many countries working conditions are way below what we’d consider acceptable here, and you’re looking at an unethical mess.
So, what makes a fabric eco-friendly? There’s an awful lot of what has been dubbed ‘greenwash’ out there, and if you can’t see the wood for the trees, looking for certification to back up a manufacturer’s claims is vital. The Global Organic Tesxtile Standard (GOTS) is the set of criteria many agencies have signed up to, including the Soil Association, Control Union and IMO. These standards also include strict social criteria. If you’re worried about working conditions, look out for the Fairtrade mark or certification from the Fair Trade Labelling Organisation, as anything that carries this will have been produced by people who are paid a fair wage, with no long hours or child labour involved.
It’s also worth looking for Ethical Consumer magazine’s Best Buy label, awarded via a unique ‘ethiscore’ scoring system that rates the environmental, ethical and social record of the companies behind the products. Fortunately for anyone buying baby clothes, topping the table in the Baby, Children and Mother category is Frugi, whose clothes are gorgeous and affordable as well as wonderfully green. “To win top position is our proudest moment,” says Lucy Jewson, who co-founded the company with her husband Kurt. “It made sense that if we were using cloth nappies to help reduce our environmental impact, then our clothing should follow the same ethos and be organic and Fairtrade. Even the plastic bags we use are made from non-GM potato starch and to carry the theme through, we’ve also sourced paper potato sacks to use for postal bags, so that our customers can compost 100% of Frugi packaging.” The company goes one step further by belonging to 1% for the Planet, pledging 1% of sales turnover (not profit) to environmental grass-roots charities.
The following offer some great baby gear – so shop away with a clean conscience.
On the eco-clothing trail