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10 Ways to Make Kids Clothes Last Longer: Design Features (Part 1 of 2)

Increasing the lifespan of clothes has a whole HEAP of benefits.  At muka kids  we know keeping kids clothes in longer use will help save the planet and is (of course) better for family budgets. Improving the sustainability of clothing is part of the reason why we have a marketplace to buy and sell previously loved organic and ethical kids clothing. In this, the first of a two part feature on making kids clothes last,  I want to focus on the ten design features that make kids clothes last longer. The second feature covers 10 ways that you can care for kids clothes that will help them last longer (based on science- I love science!)

The carbon, water and waste footprint of clothes is surprisingly large (the average family’s annual clothes requirements produce carbon the equivalent of driving 10,000 km, uses 889 baths worth of water and creates the waste equivalent to throwing out 80 pairs or so of jeans). So, it is a resource intensive process making new clothes, using them (and then not using them). The longer we can make clothes last and the greater number of kids that wear an item, the less environmental damage that particular piece of clothing is responsible for (and all the better for budgets too).


140707 Quote for extending life of clothes blog part 1


What are the Ten Design Features  That Help Clothes Last Longer? Continue Reading →

How Many Kid’s Clothes Are Too Many? A Photo Blog

A big part of what drives me forward with muka kids is trying to address in a meaningful but positive way the impact that our clothing use has on the environment. I was kind of surprised when I looked into it in an earlier blog how much a family’s annual clothing allocation contributes to CO2 emissions, water use and landfill: it is 1.5 tonnes of CO2, 200 cubic meters of water and 70kg of waste per year….that is a lot for something that seems as benign as clothing.

So in developing the model of business for muka kids I was pretty focussed on how we could keep clothes in use for longer, and reduce the amount we produce and buy. What occurred to me while I was thinking about this was that my own kids seem to have quite a lot of clothes (many of them used, ‘gifted’, passed on etc). Yet they only seem to wear a few, and these are either

1) their favourite and kind of foul/torn/too small items or

2) really good quality clothes that are well designed, attractive and fit for purpose that can be worn and washed multiple times in a week (did I hear someone say laundry drudgeon?).

So then I wondered how many of those ‘other’ clothes do they actually have? I had a sneaking suspicion it was a lot because there is a looming and terrifying presence in our attic space that I try not to dwell upon too often…

Once I started counting I was a little alarmed (and even a little embarrassed).

Here are the results of my little challenge. What it really brought into focus was being smarter about my kid’s clothing. While I thought I was saving money by buying or obtaining a greater number of cheaper (and often poorer quality) or badly designed new and used clothes, in reality the total spend is a lot more with this approach than if I just restricted my buying to key, quality, really usable (new or used) items – which pretty much turns out to be what gets worn by the kids mainly.

So I dare you to undertake a similar exercise next time you are doing a dreaded ‘sort through’!  It will probably surprise you.

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The Production of Cotton Clothing (A Lot of Ethical & Environmental Craziness): Part 2 of 3

Last week I posted an infographic outlining the basic process of cotton clothing production (Where Does your Cotton Tee Come From?). Understanding where our goods come from is interesting stuff just from a ‘how cool is that?” perspective, anyone seen how online supermarket stores operate? What understanding the production chain also does is lift the veil on HOW the stuff we buy is made, and so helps us decide how comfortable we are with what those processes mean for people and the environment.

So, further to the basics of the cotton clothes production process I want to draw attention to where things seem to have gone pretty pear shaped. I want to show (using additions to the original infographic) where in the process costs are cut and how. These are cuts that enable us to buy seriously cheap clothes (and lets face it some not so cheap because even high end fashion producers use the same process), and ensure some large textile & fashion businesses bring in handsome profits.

I have worked to verify all claims with valid evidence & reports , and for the interested reader there is a pretty extensive reference list (yeah yeah do an eye roll, I am a geek). If anyone sees any gaping holes, or has some evidence they think is more substantial or valid do swing it my way!

PS. I will follow this blog up with a final instalment on tangible solutions. So all is not lost, despair not people…..


Infographic: Environmental & Ethical Craziness in Cotton Clothing Production

Infographic: Environmental & Ethical Craziness in Cotton Clothing Production

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Where Does your Cotton Tee Come From? Part 1 of 3

Cotton clothing production is complex. Cotton clothing production involves many people. Cotton clothing production is resource intensive. There is room for improvement. Significant room.

In an earlier blog I discussed what buying certified fair trade cotton clothing actually means. In that blog I skipped over the complexities of the cotton production process for the purposes of brevity. Now I want to lay out exactly what the supply chain for cotton clothing in India (where muka kids clothes will be made) looks like. The purpose being to help highlight the complexity of the process, the huge numbers of workers involved and to lay the ground work for talking about where exactly in that chain ethical and environmental issues crop up and how they can best be countered. Right, no further words, just a picture (all be it with lots of words!).


Infographic. Cotton Production in India.

Infographic. Cotton Production in India.

What does ‘certified fairtrade’ mean when it comes to clothes?

It is a long supply chain, but we have it covered.

It is a long supply chain, but we have it covered.

While I have always been what you would call a ‘fairtrade motivated’ consumer, and I was pretty clear on what buying fairtrade certified food products like coffee, chocolate, bananas, sugar meant.  However, the picture was a little less clear when it came to clothing, and actually I hardly even considered it as an issue really.

When I started on the muka kids path I knew that fairtrade certification would be more complicated for clothing than the for the direct commodity products where the route from farmer to consumer is short. However, sorting out in my own mind what certified fairtrade clothing actually meant did require doing quite a bit of digging. I thought it would be useful to share what I found.

Figure 1 (I can’t help myself, it is the researcher in me coming out!) is a simplified but pretty accurate idea of the chain from the food commodity farmer to you (e.g. coffee, banana etc).

Fugure 1. Farmer to consumer chain for simple foods

Figure 1. Farmer to consumer chain for simple foods

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