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21 Ethical Fashion Brands for Cool Women (Who are also Parents)

and maybe a few more too...

and maybe a few more too…

You know I am not a big fan (understatement of the year) of the use of the word mother as a modifying descriptor – the word mumtrepreneur is actually my pet peeve of the decade (after hair on soap that is). Basically where being a parent has no bearing on the topic why mention it? However, where clothing is concerned joining the cult of parenthood does actually change or at least influence clothing needs, so I want to talk about ethical fashion and ethical fashion brands for women who also happen to be parents (and those who are not too!).

I started muka kids (which includes a marketplace to trade pre-loved ethical kids clothing) because I believe that ethical fashion & sustainable clothing could be more accessible and more connected to the women whose lives it is meant to improve . Kid’s clothes seemed a good place to start because the turnover rate is pretty high. However, I also wear clothes and care about the people who grow the cotton, weave the fibre, dye the fabric, cut and sew the cloth as well as the environment this processing all happens in. So finding ethical clothing & ethical fashion designers that met both my personal style AND life style with kids is important.

Let Start with “What is Ethical Fashion?”

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The Most Affordable Organic Baby Clothes Online

affordable organic baby clothes online

It is easy to find affordable organic baby clothes online

 

Pregnancy – especially when you are having your first baby is an alarming time alright. You feel an enormous pressure to do the right thing and get the right thing and it becomes overwhelmingly expensive. You know that putting your baby in organic cotton clothing is on balance probably the better thing to go with, both for the baby and the environment (science indicates it is), but dressing & sleeping this tiny new human being in affordable organic baby clothes just seems an impossible dream.

Fear not! There are affordable organic baby clothes online to be found (and in person)

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The Best Eco Pen & Eco Craft Options – & Not Just for the Kids

Eco Pen 7 Eco Craft Supplies For the Conscious Parent

Eco Pen & Eco Craft Supplies For the Conscious Parent

Doing craft, coloring, drawing, making, cutting, slicing, sticking is a big part of kids’ lives, and they use a lot of ‘stuff’ doing it. So thinking about the impact on the environment of all this activity means eco craft & eco pen supplies do matter. After doing a rather soul destroying sort out and throw out of the kid’s dud felt tip marker pens, I wondered whether apart from using wax crayons and recycled or sustainable colored pencils, (and recycled paper to draw on), was there an eco pen option for kids specifically for coloring (not just writing)?

Then it occurred to me that actually with the new craze of coloring pages for adults catching on, eco-friendly pens, especially felt tip pens are kind of important for the big kids too (because who wants to use that fantastically awful product the Bic Pen For Women to do coloring with?).

So off I set on the internet hunt to find an eco friendly pen for colouring, to assuage my conscience of the probably millions & billions of plastic felt tip pens and markers that no longer have any love to give gathered in landfills everywhere. You see only part of most felt tip pens is recyclable (the lid), so the rest? Well you know the drill, it takes petrochemicals & heaps energy to make then, then after short term use our rainbow hued releasers of childhood imagination end up in landfill leaching chemicals into the soil and yup eventually the waterways. Ace.

Because nothing says ‘the wonder of childhood’ quite like making products that pollute their future.

So are there any Eco Pens on the Market Suitable for Coloring In?

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3 Ways to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Your Wardrobe Without the Costs

150709 3 ways to green your wardrobe

When we think about problems in the way clothes are made we think mainly about the ethics – the people who make them and how they are treated. This is a really serious concern, but just as serious, is the environmental footprint of our clothing. 

Recently Sam Judd from Sustainable Coastlines, highlighted the problems with plastic (polyester) in clothing – the pollution their production creates and the plastic fibers they shed into the environment  when they are washed.

It is true that plastic based fabrics are pretty horrid, they can be made from recycled plastics, which has some benefits over new polyester fabric in terms of the environmental footprint – but this does not prevent micro plastics being shed into the ocean. Frankly, given the environmental problems with plastic generally, why buy something with plastic in it if you can buy something that is just as functional, if not more functional, without it?

Natural fibres like cotton and wool, hemp etc are often touted as being preferable: there are some buts. Non organically grown cotton uses a huge amount of water in production, a lot of pesticides on the crop (which ends up in the soil, and eventually the bodies of farmers and their children) and the fabric dying process creates a vast amount of toxic water waste, which in countries without strict regulation is pumped directly into waterways untreated, creating a toxic soup in local water supplies and eventually the sea.

Wool (a supposedly natural and environmental friendly fibre) has to be cleaned (a sheep wore it through bushes and pooed on it before you got it you know). Such cleaning (called scouring) is mostly done with harsh chemicals to dissolve the dirt, chemicals which again end up in local waterways in China, India, Bangladesh and other textile producing developing countries.

HOWEVER, not all is lost! There three main ways to ensure that the clothing in your wardrobe has as little impact on the environment as possible (apart from producing it all yourself that is!)

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A Mad World, A Revelation & A Choice

I promise this (might) all make sense

I promise this (might) all make sense

The title of this blog is a little like the song ‘So Long and Thanks for all the Fish”, makes NO sense at all if you have not read a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and only marginally more if you have read it. So read on and perhaps you will feel marginally less confused by the end (no promises though, but questions welcome).

The Madness

I have always thought (at some times more than others) that it is a mad world that engenders a little bit (or a lot) of crazy in us all, but that assuming your world is more mad than the person’s next to you on the bus/at work/in a parent group is a dangerous path to go down, because chances are it totally is NOT. However, I always believed that (mostly) my world is maddest for me, while yours is maddest for you.

So, on that note I think it is always good to know that the people who start businesses, want to change the world, do social enterprise and post random stuff on social media to increase the following of said social enterprise are a little mad, just like you.

I, I am quite comfortable saying, am going through a little bit of crazy. We moved house (WHY on earth anyone would do this with small children is beyond me, but needless to say I am now looking for a community support group of fellow ”post movers with children and too many unpacked boxes in their houses”). I started new and fabulous permanent work (because social enterprise and good intentions, alas like clouds, cannot be eaten), which feels great AND draining. Oh and cancer came to our family. I tell you this not  to explain the madness, or garner sympathy, but because I want to emphasis the very human and shared experience that, stress, big change, and serious illness is. That it makes us all a little mad, but hopefully a little more human too.

So muka kids had retreated a little for me, then came back again, both because it keeps me focused on the big stuff that matters in our mad world, and because, well I guess as Leonard Cohen says “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

 

The Revelation

So, I started thinking about how to make muka kids happen on a smaller but active scale for everyone (including me),  until I can build a bigger trading platform for pre-loved ethical and sustainable clothing . What I have come up with is moving muka kids into an active facebook group. One our community can start to trade our ethical and sustainable clothes between ourselves. At this end we will work with the Accredited Brands (here are some that we will approach first up) to get muka ‘ReGooders” (you the group members) rewards for trading on the group page, and each month there will be a  feature on a women entrepreneur in the developing world, who needs a microloan, which members can choose to support if they are so inclined. For this particular aspect we will initially work with existing and trusted organisations like Kiva and Global Sisters, until we can establish a long term relationship with our cotton farming groups in India.

The Choice

So here is the question, what to call this new group? Just stick with muka kids? Or perhaps be more focused on the sustainable wardrobe aspect, something like ”muka sustainable wardrobe”? Love to hear your thoughts on what would bring people in. Remember, this is not just for those people who are already converts to the sustainable clothing movement, but also uninitiated people just wanting to buy better quality, cooler clothes that happen to be sustainable & ethical for their kids (and eventually themselves too – as we include adult clothing). So comment below, or post on Facebook and let me know your thoughts…

Want to be actively involved in the community from here or afar?

If you would like to be more involved than just buying or selling, the new group will need administrators, so any help I can get to move this community along from good thoughts to good deeds, would be warmly and enthusiastically embraced (if a little madly!). Just email (info@mukakids.com), FB message etc etc.

Happily, madly yours

Jess

 

All Worn Out. Where Do Donated Clothes Really Go?

Where do your used clothes go? The Kids might have something to say about this!

Where do your donated clothes go? The kids might have something to say about this!

If you donate clothes to charity – where do they really end up? Sophie Bond (1) considers fashion’s second life.

There’s a green t-shirt that lives bundled on our bedroom floor. It has been my husband’s second skin for years. It is faded and threadbare, its hem wavy and stretched, the logo cracked, peeling and split by a gaping hole. When worn, it literally provides a window into his soul.

It is a shirt that causes wives to despair, grandmas to blush and supermarket cashiers to enquire as to whether he’s living rough (yes, really).

One day he’ll give in, and it will be torn up for rags. It will have truly done its dash.

Few garments are worth keeping forever: perhaps a delicate christening gown or a commemorative sports jersey will make the cut. Some faithful clothes will give us years of service. Others end up in the bin much sooner.

Tastes and bodies change, drawers and wardrobes overflow and eventually, it’s time to have a clear-out.

In our household, this involves me going room to room, rummaging out the tired, unworn and too small and filling bags for the local opportunity shop*.

My problem is that I leave the shop bearing just as many goods as I donated, but that’s another story.

 The mystery of the big blue clothing bin

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20 Ethical Clothing & Organic Clothing Brands for Kids We LOVE

Ethical clothes for kids we love

Ethical clothes for kids we love

We know it is hard sometimes to get hold of ethical clothing & organic clothing for kids. You mean well, intend well and then? Well the practicalities just get in the way of doing well. Muka kids is a social enterprise that exists to make it a lot easier to get hold of fantastic affordable ethical clothing & organic clothing for kids. One way we help is we have a marketplace for buying & selling accredited pre-loved (and some new) ethical and organic clothing. In this blog we want to tell you about the best of these accredited brands. Some of these brands actually offer discounts to those who trade on muka kids. So if you buy ethical sustainable clothes new &  ‘Regood’ them on our marketplace we reward you for being sustainable and well just super.

Ethical clothing all starts with some great small companies

In the muka model it all starts with those fantastic people pushing the boat out in small and independent ethical clothing and organic clothing brands, doing their darnedest to do the right thing and make clothes that meet ethical and sustainable standards. It is HARD: a hard slog, lower returns, with a small (but growing market) of customers.

These ethical clothing companies and the people who run them care. They care deeply about changing the way the clothing system works, and while all of them might not have the gold standard for ethical clothing or organic clothing in place right now, I tell you they are striving to do things a better way AND make sure they have a successful ethical business so they can keep making a difference.

Ethical Clothing Brands & Organic Clothing Brands We LOVE* (many of which you can find on our marketplace in affordable preloved condtion)

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The Quick and Dirty on our Changing Model

We are on a Journey.

We are on a Journey.

A few weeks back we wrote about our BIG change of direction or pivot as those in the cool kids club call it (note I am NOT in this club, and I try not to let it bother me, but sometimes it does just a little) . I digress.  You can read all about why we have changed muka and the big journey that led to it, but if you just want the quick and dirty here it is!

How it is going to be different at muka

How it is going to be different at muka

From Field to Factory – How Ethical Clothing is Made. A Photographic Journey.

The journey starts here

In November 2014 muka kids journeyed to India, that great dusty & green continent of tigers, elephants, emperors and empire.

With all my do-gooder intentions for muka kids I really needed to understand the complexities of the ethical clothing production chain. By ethical I mean a production chain where worker and environmental well-being sits at the heart of it.  So we went to India. We went to learn how ethical clothing is created and other clothing is not. We went to talk with those involved, in this very long production chain, about their day to day reality, their joys and their despair. We followed the journey of fairtrade organic cotton from field to factory across that beautiful and chaotic continent. We fell in love with the beauty of rural India, and despaired of the poverty we saw there. We felt brought down by the knowledge that the production we were seeing represented less than 1% of the industry, yet uplifted by the promise of the better way it represented. It is not a perfect system, but it strives at it at least. Here is our tale of ethical clothing, we hope you will see the promise it is too. Continue Reading →

I am the chattering languor monkey (or why muka kids is changing direction).

The Chattering Monkeys Of The Jungle Book

The Chattering Monkeys Of The Jungle Book

When I visited India in late 2014, and journeyed across the continent tracing the making of cotton garments from the rural cotton fields to the factories of industrial India, my guide and mentor for much of the journey was Ranga. Ranga is a man of the hour. His story is a fantastic one, but one I can tell you later. More pertinent to this particular post is the story Ranga himself tells.

Every time Ranga visits the city of Tirupur in southern India he also visits his parents in a small village about an hour away. Every time he visits his father sits him down and asks him in his own very Indian way whether all the hard work Ranga is putting into pushing the garment industry to be a more ethical, more sustainable one, is really worth the pain. On our particular visit there was a uniquely and beautifully Indian analogy that had something to do with grasping the tails of crocodiles, and there was also this one:

Over that classic southern Indian breakfast of idly and sambal Ranga’s father looked at him across the table and said ‘when the Bengal tiger is hunting in the jungle the languor monkeys chatter loudly to warn all the other creatures in the jungle that danger is near; a tiger is hungry and hunting, they are saying ‘flee’!’ Then he looks at Ranga and says are you the chattering monkey and are the other creatures in the jungle still listening to your warnings?’

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