Whole Family

Families, Whole Family

Why Eco Perfectionism Is a Myth We Need To Let Go Of

Have you heard of the term ‘Eco Perfectionism’? Maybe you haven’t but you might understand the concept. Put simply, it’s the idea that you can only take part in the sustainability movement if you’re living an environmentally flawless life.

My personal feeling on eco-perfectionism is that it’s one of the biggest barriers to getting people to take more sustainable steps in their lives. Who wants to make a change to their life, for fear of getting it wrong? For people on social media to tell you just how wrong you are? And how do we encourage people to take part in a movement when people seem so quick to tear people down, rather than build them up?

Progress, Not Eco-Perfection

Image of notebook and pencils with blue text box that says why eco-perfectionism is a myth that we need to let go of.

Something I think about a lot is the old adage, ‘Progress Not Perfection’. As such I’ve come to think that sustainability should have a tagline. You know, how you would describe sustainability to someone you met in an elevator, with only limited time to get your point across. Progress, not perfection would fit perfectly. And even better – progress, not eco-perfection.

It’s getting this message across that is the problem.

I’ve found when you push your head above the crowd, and blog about sustainability or share something on social media people assume that you’re some kind of eco-perfectionist. My own experience of blogging about sustainable living has shown me how some people are quick to criticise. I often get the old chestnut “how dare you write about X, Y, or Z on a site called MORAL FIBRES”. Moral Fibres in capitals.

I mean, first of all, on my about page, I straight up state that I’m not perfect. I mean, no one is because it is simply not possible to be perfect. Not in any aspect of sustainability. This is because everything we do has an impact. We can try and minimise that impact according to our own individual ethics, but ultimately there are trade-offs in any aspect of sustainability. There is no such thing as eco-perfectionism.

Sustainability Is About Nuance and Individual Circumstances

the problem with eco perfectionism

Take animal products, for example. Leather and wool are both derived from livestock rearing, which has impacts on the environment. Vegan leather, however, is a virgin plastic derived from fossil fuels. It contributes to climate change, which harms all animals and humans. It’s also nowhere near as durable.

Meanwhile, acrylic fleece jumpers are also made from fossil fuels. They shed microplastics into our oceans every time they are washed. Even ones made from recycled plastic bottles.

There are trade-offs and choices to be made, with no perfect choice, save to only buy second-hand everything ever. This often isn’t a practical or accessible choice to everyone so we make tradeoffs based on our own individual internal values. Eco-perfection simply doesn’t exist in this situation.

There’s No One Way to Be Sustainable

And that’s the thing with the sustainability movement. Sustainability doesn’t look a certain way. There’s no one way to be sustainable. Everyone has to make choices according to their own lives, values, circumstances, barriers, and privileges. It can’t be prescriptive.

We, therefore, cannot make judgements about how anyone approaches sustainability, because we don’t the ins and outs of a person’s individual circumstances, values, barriers, privileges, and nuances. Nuances such as when plastic-free isn’t always best for the environment.

Shouting at people and telling them that they’re doing it wrong is neither helpful nor does it engender people to environmentalism. All it does is tell people that there’s no room for individual circumstances.

We’re Not Born Experts

What eco-perfectionism also does is tell people that there’s no room for trying, learning, or growing. However, we’re not born experts. There needs to be space in the movement for people to try, learn, make mistakes, and try again.

Shouting people down when they make mistakes means they don’t progress to the trying again stage. They’re made to think environmentalism isn’t for them. Shouting at people on the internet or in real life achieves nothing. Instead, stop and think about what you could say that could offer encouragement. Or decide if it’s best to say anything at all. Sometimes saying nothing is the most useful thing to do.

Final Thoughts On Eco-Perfectionism

Eco-perfectionism, and the quest for it, is a sure-fire way to burn out or develop eco-anxiety.

It’s difficult to aim for perfection, and we can put people off our mission if we’re too over-zealous.  However, if we aim to be imperfect environmentalists, then we might just encourage more imperfect environmentalists to join our cause. After all, as Anne-Marie Bonneau says – “we don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

Babies, Children, Families, Teenagers, Whole Family

8 Places to Buy Ethical Kids Clothes in 2022

Here are eight great places to buy ethical kids clothes. From super sustainable secondhand clothes to organically and ethically sourced clothing, from birth to age 14.

Something I get HEAPS of emails about is where to buy ethical kids clothes. As a mum of two girls, I understand your frustration in not being able to easily find ethical clothes for your growing children.

There are loads of organic and sustainable baby clothes companies out there. However, when it comes to kids older than toddlers then options for ethical kids clothing starts to diminish. By the time you get to age 10, it’s a pretty sparse picture. What I will say is that if you are thinking about going into business making and selling organic babywear then stop right there. Instead, consider making older kids’ clothing instead, where there is a massive gap in the market.

Where to Buy Ethical Kids Clothes

That being said, there are a number of places to buy ethical and sustainable clothes for kids from birth to age 14. My kids are aged 6 and 10 so we haven’t had to navigate the teenage years yet, but I’ll share as many tips as I can to cover dressing babies, toddlers, kids, and teenagers ethically.

where to shop for ethical kids clothes

Contains affiliate links denoted by *

1. eBay

eBay* is one of my all-time favourites for ethical kids’ clothing. There’s nothing more ethical than secondhand clothing, so eBay is brilliant if you want to shop ethically but on a tight budget.

eBay is also a great place to stock up on clothes for older kids and teenagers too – just make sure you click the used filter at the side.

One thing I particularly love eBay for is the fact that parents sell bundles of clothes that their kid has grown out of. Just search, for example, “girls bundle age 3 4“* and you can find hundreds and hundreds of bundles of clothing. Here you can pick up practically everything your kid will need in one parcel for very little.

If you really want to get the most for your money then my top eBay thrifty trick is to stock up on winter wear in the summertime, when fewer people are searching and bidding on winter wear. And likewise, searching for summer gear in winter is a superb way to grab some great bargains. I’ve also got lots of eBay tips this way.

2. Charity Shops for Ethical Kids Clothes

My other favourite place to shop ethically for kids is in charity shops. I’m really lucky to have a Barnados charity shop near me that exclusively sells kids’ wear and gear. I’ve come out of there with a pile of fantastic clothes for my kids and spent a little over £10.

If the charity shops near you don’t cater much for kids then Oxfam Online* is a super place to shop for secondhand ethical kids’ clothes online. Here you’ll find sizes ranging from birth to age 16.

Delivery is a flat fee of £3.95, no matter how many items you buy. What’s more, they also offer free returns making Oxfam Online a hassle way to shop for ethical kids’ clothes.

3. Frugi

frugi kids ethical clothing

Frugi* is a great stop if you are looking to buy some new ethical pieces. Catering for babies and kids up to age 10, Frugi’s bright and colourful clothes are made from organic and ethically sourced cotton.

All their outwear is made from recycled plastic bottles, which is great. However, you may want to buy a Guppyfriend for washing*, as these types of materials do release microfibres when washed.

Offering free delivery and an easy returns policy, it’s an easy way to shop from home.

4. Toby Tiger

toby tiger ethical kids clothes

Toby Tiger* is another ethical kids’ online shop that’s big on colour. Their ethical and GOTS certified organic cotton kidswear (this post explains what GOTS certified, and other sustainable labeling means), which I really appreciate not being labelled as for girls or for boys, is for kids aged up to six years old.

5. Etsy for Ethical Kids Clothes

organic kids tshirts

If you’re looking to shop directly from independent makers then Etsy* is the place for you. Here you’ll find great ethical kidswear from makers like Wiltshire-based Lost Shapes*. Lost Shapes sell colourful kids organic, environmentally friendly, and fairly traded t-shirts and jumpers. These come in sizes up to age 14, with prices starting from just £8.

6. The QT

The QT* has designed their ethical clothing for kids, aged 2 to 10, with circularity in mind, They aim for their clothing to be as close to 100% organic, natural, recyclable, and compostable as possible. From the fabric – 100% GOTS certified organic cotton – right down to the small details, such as the tags, threads, and buttons. Even the packaging is considered. Each garment comes in a fully compostable and biodegradable bag, which can be repurposed as a food waste caddy liner.

If your kids wear their QT Apparel clothes out beyond repair, then don’t worry. QT Apparel accepts QT Apparel clothing for recycling. You’ll even get a 20% discount voucher to use on your next purchase.

Sign up to the QT Apparel mailing list and get 15% off your first order.

7. Tootsa

tootsa ethical kids clothes

Finally, Tootsa (formerly known as Tootsa MacGinty) is a wonderful online shop selling ethical and largely unisex knitwear and other kids’ clothes in baby to age 10. And Tootsa even does a small adult line if you want to twin with your kids…!

Years ago I bought two jumpers for my eldest – which have since been handed down to my youngest – and these are still going strong, and still looking like new.

If your piece isn’t faring so well, then Tootsa offers a repair service. Here they’ll do their best to find a solution to keep your favourite Tootsa clothes going for longer. They’ll send you buttons, trims, patches and cover the cost of replacing a zipper if needs be. Failing all of that, you can send your old Tootsa clothes back to them in exchange for a discount on your next order.

Tootsa does fantastic sales, periodically. It’s a good idea to sign up to their mailing list or follow on social media to keep updated.

8. Polarn O Pyret

Catering from birth up to age 12, Polarn O Pyret* makes ethical kids clothes in a range of sustainable materials. From GOTS certified organic cotton to organic wool and more. All of their clothes are designed to last. In fact, Polarn O. Pyret says that every garment is made to last at least 3 children, if not many more.

Polarn O. Pyret also has many great sustainability measures in place too.  They offer a free repairs service to fix zips and replace broken poppers on all of their outerwear garments. This is regardless of when they were purchased.

They have also recently introduced a buy-back scheme. Here, when your child grows out of their Polarn O. Pyret clothes, they will help you find a new owner for it. In return, you’ll receive a voucher to use on new items online. At the moment, this only applies to outerwear, such as jackets and rain trousers. Hopefully, this may expand in the future to all of their clothes. I’ll keep you updated.

I hope this is helpful in your search for places to buy ethical kid’s clothes! Have I missed any of your favourites? And do check out my post on how to buy kid’s clothes that last for some useful pointers.