Tag Archives: organic cotton

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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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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I’ve Got a Golden Ticket. What I Learnt About Fair trade & Women’s Education in India

I love Charlie and the Chocolate factory; Roald Dahl’s stories infuse my memories of childhood. His world was filled with irrigable grown-ups, clever but terribly misunderstood children, fantastical gob-stopping sweets and great miracles, and when I was small they appealed immeasurably to my understanding of how life worked – when the only time that mattered was how long until I was finally big. The dream of getting a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory, that land of childhood fantasy (and nightmares) is something that has never quite left me. To this day I wistfully hope for a little glimpse of the shiny golden stuff whenever I open a bar of chocolate (fairtrade naturally).

In November 2014 we headed to India to trace the journey of muka kids fairtrade organic cotton, from cotton seed to garment. That journey started in rural India, in the state of Orissa and in the villages of the cotton farmers who are part of the Pratima Agro fairtrade cooperative there. I want to tell you a little bit of the story of the women & girls I met  in those villages, and why I left there feeling like Charlie Bucket – like I may have already got the golden ticket.

Rural Orissa. North East India

Rural Orissa. North East India

It was hot in Orissa, not dripping, searing heat, as this was India in winter, but still 30c or so, and dry, so dry. In this dry warm winter, India has an intriguing colour pallet. The earth and dust is brick red, and the sky is a wash of colour, gentle and soft, the green of the rice crops is iridescent, and birds alight like tiny shimmering jewels on the trees. Rural India is an achingly beautiful place, but its beauty belies its harsh reality. Continue Reading →

The Great Indian Journey

In one week we are off to India on our producer journey. A journey that has been made possible by those super people who supported our spark my potential crowdfunding campaign. The generosity of people during (and following) just blew me away, and made something that looked a long way away (and was kind of an abstract idea), utterly possible. So let me just say again thank you to you all for both your resources and your positive messages about muka kids attempts to do things a new way.

So what is this trip all about? It is about two things:

Ready to tell the story

Ready to tell the story

1) Documenting the footsteps of muka kids clothing production chain, from the growing of the cotton in fairtrade organic farming cooperatives right through to the making of the clothing in ethical factories at both ends of the country (and everything in between).

AND more importantly

2) Giving you the opportunity to really see how a social enterprise like muka kids can have a significant impact on real women, their families and their lives. We hope to show you that by supporting muka kids you are not just a part of some abstract solution for some imagined people on the other side of the world, but the key to creating a new story for real people (women and their families) in India. That is the good stuff we are there to get. Continue Reading →

Why are ethical kids clothes so expensive?

Why are most kids clothes that you buy so costly and especially ethical kids clothes?

Well a lot of it is to do with the way they are made. Lets start with standard kids clothing. There are A LOT of stages in the long journey from a cotton seed to garment (most kids clothing is made of cotton or cotton mix) and for every step in that journey there is a cost. Here is a pictogram neatly summarizing all the steps in how cotton clothing gets made. Needless to say it is long, with lots of people involved and lots of processing. It is kind of interesting in a ‘how stuff works’ way.

Anyway, what exactly are all these costs and at what points in the chain do they apply? The following infographic sums up the costs nicely….

 

 non ethical kids clothes are costly is many ways

costly huh?

So, at every step there are some serious costs in production. Costs borne mainly by women, by children and by the environment.

So I know you get that I am being ironic to make a point, and that I am kind of beating you over the head with my lack of subtlety. I cannot disagree. But for all my lack of subtlety the point is, I think, an important one. We often talk about the cost of kids clothes (standard AND ethical kids clothes), only in relation to our immediate cash flow, what is in our bank account at the time we are needing to re-dress whatever particular child has worn a hole, grown 2cm, or beaten a piece of clothing into submission. Continue Reading →

Organic Kids Clothes: What exactly ARE they?

confused about what organic clothing actually is?

‘Organic’ is a pretty over abused & confusing term. To clarify what it means when you see ‘organic kids clothes”, and cotton clothing specifically, here is the quick & dirty low down (with the long and clean bit at the end for those that like details).

(I did a post some time back explaining what certified fairtrade cotton means –  have a look at that too to get the full picture of environmental & ethical standards in relation to kids clothing).

To start with lets deal with the generic term ‘organic’ and what that means.

Well as Inigo Montoya says You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means”…….

Essentially, if you see the term ‘organic’ on a garment with no certification mark, it means nothing at all (or conversely just about anything you might imagine). That is because there is no independently audited or agreed standard associated with the generic term ‘organic’, so don’t be hoodwinked into wasting your cash and good intentions on such products unless you are completely satisfied with what you are getting.

So moving on to ‘certified organic’ and what that means for clothing. The clothing production chain is a long one (here is a quick infographic on how it works). For cotton to be certified as organic there is a standard to be met at every point in that chain. Here is the quick overview of what that means…

 

the organic cotton production chain.

the organic cotton production chain.

 

So if you are satisfied at this point there is no more to see folks and feel free to click away. If you want more detail or have unanswered questions do read on….

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We Have Design Prototypes in Organic Fairtrade Cotton!

 Let me introduce the sampling stages of garment development (Indian Styles!)

  1. 1st stage: prototypes
  2. 2nd stage
  3. Approval
  4. Other
  5. Pre-production
  6. Production
  7. Photo
  8. Size Set

As I am only up to stage one I have no idea what the other seven stages yet involve, but they both excite and frighten me!

This week I got some of the prototypes of the first designs. The prototypes are the fully made up design in the right type of fairtrade organic cotton fabrics, but NOT in the right colours – colour tests come next  – (so fear not, these are not for dressing mini all blacks). The first prototypes do not have any of the trims and prints either – so to you that is no pretty pictures on the garments yet.

The prototypes give an idea of how the fabric drapes, how the pockets look, the weight and the stretch of the fabric, and the basic shape and fit. There are some changes that I have already picked up need to happen, which is great, though frankly lets hope I get a bit more decisive by the time sample stage 6 comes around!

I must say they do feel lovely (all fairtrade organic cotton tends to feel very different from standard cotton).

Here they are (the Grinling Hoody is still to come)…..

ropey tee in first prototype

ropey tee in first prototype

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Is organic clothing better for babies and kids? What the science says.

140826 is organic cotton better pinterest

I must to admit to feeling a sense of total panic before the birth of our first child when I could not find organic cot sheets that did not cost the earth. I was going to be responsible for some terrible calamity that might befall her in her sleep! (I admit pregnancy may have meant I had totally lost all sense of proportion).

In the end we made a set  from some organic jersey cotton I found, we still have them and currently use them for number 2. As time passed I did find myself considering what the evidence was for organic fabrics being better for kids or indeed non organic being harmful. So of course I was unable to help myself; I did some research.

 

cotton workers get a raw deal

 

Turns out there is a lot of very robust science to back up the negative health impacts of conventional cotton farming on farm workers, their children, cotton processing workers, garment makers and on the environment. From pesticide poisoning, inhalation during processing, through to large scale river pollution. The types of chemical involved include heavy metals like lead & nickle, cancer causing Azo dyes,  formaldehyde and phthalates. There is a good summary of this evidence here.

 

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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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