Something I get HEAPS of emails about is where to buy ethical kids clothes.
I started putting an ethical kids clothing directory together a couple of years ago, and the task quickly became out of hand for this one-woman band. It turns out there are a TON of organic baby clothes companies out there. It quickly became apparent that pretty much every other baby clothes company is organic, and whilst that is great, it soon became a very laborious and torturous task trying to index these rapidly multiplying shops. What I will say is that if you are thinking about going into business making and selling organic babywear then stop right there and consider making older kids clothing instead, where there is a massive gap in the market.
That directory is still languishing in my drafts, and rather than try to go back to it, I thought I’d round up some of my favourite places to buy ethical kids clothes. And there are still some organic babywear options below, I just haven’t gone overboard with them.
My kids are aged 3 and 7 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.
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
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 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, in sizes ranging from birth to age 16.
Delivery is a flat fee of £3.95, no matter how many items you buy, and they also offer free returns making Oxfam Online a hassle way to shop for ethical kids clothes.
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, but 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 is another ethical kids online shop that’s big on colour. Their ethical and GOTS certified organic cotton kidswear, which I really appreciate not being labelled as for girls or for boys, is for kids aged up to six years old.
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, in sizes up to age 14, and starting from just £8.
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 where 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 off your next order.
Tootsa does fantastic sales, periodically (right now there’s 70% off until the end of today). It’s a good idea to sign up to their mailing list or follow on social media to keep updated.
I hope this is helpful in your search for places to buy ethical kids clothes! Have I missed any of your favourites?
This week is Climate Week and in recognition of this I thought I’d share some green parenting tips. The great thing about these tips is that as well as helping the planet, you’ll save yourself some money too.
The following green parenting tips are by no means prescriptive. The thing I’ve learned most about being a parent is that you have to do whatever works for you. These things work for us – maybe some of them might work for you too, but if they don’t then that’s ok! It is hard being a parent, and sometimes it feels that others are judging you on your parenting decisions (breast vs. bottle; dummy vs. non-dummy; the list is never ending) so the last thing I’d want is for anyone to feel like they’re being judged just because your kid wears disposable nappies or has a thing for plastic dolls!
1. Accept Help
The first of my green parenting tips is to get a head start and start being a green parent before you’ve given birth! Put pride to the side and accept any offers of help. When I was pregnant a friend gave me a load of her old maternity clothes, which was a total life saver, because who wants to buy new clothes that you can only wear for a few months? Other friends gave us their old car-seat, moses basket, steriliser, sheets and toys. My sister gave us a massive bag of clothes from zero months to age three that my niece had long since grown out of.
We were amazed and so grateful for all of the help and items given to us. Babies grow so fast, and for the first year especially, babies grow out of their clothes in months, so most of the things were in mint condition. We’ve also saved all of our daughter’s things that she’s grown out of – either for another baby or to give to friends, depending on what the future brings us.
If you don’t have any friends or family with older babies/toddlers/kids then mine Freecycle and the freebies section of Gumtree for people giving away baby things they no longer need. You’ll be surprised at what you can find on there!
Some of our washable nappies
2. Reuse As Much As You Can
We used washable nappies, and now we’re in the middle of potty training I’m currently using washable training pants. It’s good for the environment, and even though the initial investment is high (we spent £200 on washable nappies) you do end up saving a heap of money as buying disposable nappies and disposable training pants for at least two and a half years soon adds up to somewhere in the thousands, especially if you have more than one child.
I loved using washable nappies, it wasn’t a hassle in the slightest – it was just a case of putting everything in the washing machine and then hanging it up to dry. No late night dashes in the rain to the shops to buy nappies because we’d ran out, or carrying home bulky packs of nappies, or stinky bins full of discarded nappies – we just put a wash on every time we started to run low. So convenient!
3. Resist Cheap Tat
Now that we’re at the toddler stage, we’ve got to the point that whenever we go to the shop my daughter asks for a little plastic pocket money toy. The thing is 9 times out of 10 the toy lasts two minutes before a) she gets bored of them and b) they break or get lost down the back of the sofa. This means you end up with a mountain of plastic rubbish. Instead, I say no – this saves plastic and saves you money. At the moment I find promising a trip to the park instead works miracles at diffusing a fraught temper, or perhaps a snack!
4. Buy Secondhand Where Possible
I recently bought my daughter’s bed secondhand, and try and buy secondhand clothes as much as possible, either in charity shops or through eBay (some eBay top tips here!). Children grow so quickly and things like clothes may only be worn a few times before being given to the charity shop or sold online. It helps stop perfectly fine items going to landfill and saves money.
Getting about with my daughter on the bus, in the Ergo baby carrier ( 7 weeks).
5. Do You Need a Car?
Cars are expensive. You buy a car, you have to insure it, you have to pay vehicle excise duty, you have to pay for fuel and oil, you have to pay for replacement tyres, you have to pay for repairs, you have to pay it’s yearly MOT, you have to pay for parking, you may have to pay to park your car outside your house. And then it depreciates in value. On top of that they’re bad for the environment.
Even though we live fairly rurally, with access to very limited local amenities, we don’t have a car. Kids are fairly portable – up until the age of 18 months I predominantly used our Ergobaby carrier* to get about (absolutely invaluable if you travel mainly on buses). With baby carriers or slings you can go anywhere and don’t have to worry about there not being a space on the bus for your pram. Now my daughter’s older and mostly walking, though still in need of a nap, I use a small umbrella buggy that folds up at the flick of a lever for quick and easy bus access.
This works for us as I do most of my food shopping online (although I’m looking for ways to change this) so I don’t have to worry about carrying bags of shopping home and having to deal with toddler and folding a buggy. Using reusable nappies means I don’t have to carry bags of big bulky bags of nappies home either.
Season tickets are often cheaper than paying for each trip individually. In Edinburgh you can get unlimited bus travel for £51 a month. Kids under five travel free. £51 is less than one whole tank of petrol, and you don’t have all the other car costs to worry about.
I’m not going to lie, sometimes there have been inconsolable crying fits on the bus, much to the dismay of some passengers, which has been difficult. However, mostly it’s been fine, and I strongly believe that taking the bus has been good for us. I have made some really good friends on the bus that I wouldn’t have met whilst travelling alone in a car. My daughter is learning from a young age about acceptable behaviour on the bus. She’s also learning about how to interact with a wide range of different people, and about manners – without being prompted she always says “thank you” to the driver as we get off the bus!
It also means we take advantage of all the great things happening locally – meaning we support our community and get to know our neighbours. Rather than driving to a softplay centre, I instead go to the toddler group in our village – my daughter gets to run around for two hours playing with other kids, and I get to meet local mums and dads. I shop in our local shop to supplement our fortnightly supermarket delivery. We spend a lot of time playing in the garden, so I know all of our neighbours now.
If you’re not particularly into the idea of the bus, or aren’t quite ready to give up a car completely then there is another option. If you live in a large town or city you might have a car club near you. The City Car Club* is an amazing pay-per-hour UK wide car club, that I’ve used a lot for work. It costs from £4.95 an hour (that’s including fuel and everything!), and is super convenient. You can even hire a car just by going up to a free one on the street, as long as it’s not booked out, for when you really need a car right that second! They even hire vans by the hour, for you know, if you have to pick up a Gumtree or eBay purchase, or are moving house! If you’re not a frequent car user, maybe just at the weekend say, then you’d probably save a heap of money ditching your car and joining a car club.
6. Don’t Eat Processed Food
We’re trying to eat as little processed food as possible – batch cooking instead. Chilis, soups, curries, dahls, pasta sauces, etc, you name it and it’s probably in our freezer, or the requisite parts are in our fridge ready to be cooked up! It’s not always that easy, especially after a long day at work, or a day of keeping a toddler entertained and keeping the house vaguely tidy, so we do slip up occasionally, especially when we’ve exhausted our supply of frozen meals. But batch cooking your own meals from scratch cuts down on food packaging, cuts costs and is healthier for you too.
7. Eat Less Meat
My partner and I are both long term vegetarians (no meat or fish for us). We don’t want to force our views on our daughter, and we’d rather she made her own mind up when she’s older, so a couple of times a week we’ll cook some meat or fish for her, which she eats alongside whatever we’re eating. It’s only once or twice a week: certainly not every day. Eating meat isn’t the best for the environment, and it’s expensive to buy, so even if you don’t want to go vegetarian completely, then cutting down on the number of days that you eat meat is a good approach. The Meat Free Monday twitter stream always has some good recipe suggestions if you’re struggling for ideas.
Early attempts at boiled egg (6 months)
8. Eat All Together
As soon as we started introducing solid food to our daughter at six months old, we made a point of all eating the same things. Up until the age of one babies shouldn’t have salt in their food (so no gravy, soy sauce or stock cubes), and honey should never be given to a baby under one in any form – cooked or uncooked. To get round this we either cooked one meal then seasoned our food separately, or cooked the same thing in separate pots, omitting salty items such as stock from our daughter’s pot. After the age of one it’s less of a problem, and as we cook a lot of our meals from scratch we know that there is not much salt in our food.
As she has been introduced to most types of food from an early age, my daughter pretty much eats what we eat, with only a very few exceptions. Mexican bean chilli? Spicy lentil dahl? Vegetable curry and rice? All devoured in minutes. Pasta and garlic bread? Her favourite.
This approach helps reduce food waste; leftovers easily become lunch; batch cooking saves time and money; and I don’t have to cook separate meals every night, also cutting costs.
9. Drink Water
My daughter gets juice only as a special treat when we’re out. It’s sugary and bad for your teeth; it costs money; comes in plastic bottles or cartons; and has to be transported across the country. Water is free and comes from the tap. We don’t bother with expensive water filters or coolers, or any of that plastic stuff – just straight out of the tap for us. When compared to water in other countries, such as parts of Africa, the water is squeaky clean in the UK.
10. Do You Need A Big House?
We currently live in a 1.5 bedroomed maisonette. We are currently looking to move to something a little bigger, but by bigger we mean maybe 2 bedrooms and a box room for my partner and I to work in, and pursue our hobbies in.
We don’t need a four bedroomed house. Bigger houses need more furniture, and require more energy and money to heat. I always think it’s a bit daft to heat a big house that you don’t need. Living in a small space means you tend to acquire less junk! I hate it when you watch property programmes and the house hunters say they need a spare bedroom for guests. Unless you have overnight guests over every weekend othen you probably don’t need a guest bedroom. When we have guests over they sleep on our sofa bed in the living room, and when we say at someone’s house I don’t expect anything more than a sofa or an airbed on the living room floor.
I love the Small & Cool posts on Apartment Therapy – such good inspiration for living small!
Outdoor play is the best kind of play (18 months)!
11. Make All That You Can
The last of my green parenting tips is to make all that you can. I’m not particularly crafty (I have my moments but I wouldn’t call myself a crafting wizard) so I don’t make my own clothes or anything like that, but something I am good at is making our own fun without having to resort to buying plastic toys. A walk in the park, jumping in puddles (a particular favourite), a walk along the beach, animal spotting, feeding the ducks, making things from junk, etc, are all fun things to do with your kids that don’t require making any purchases. Your child also benefits from spending quality time with you and having fun experiences. Hattie at Free Your Kids has a ton of good ideas in her archive of how to make your own fun with kids.
I’ve probably missed a load of ideas on how to be a green parent – share your green parenting tips in the comments below!
I'm Wendy and welcome to Moral Fibres, a green lifestyle blog. I believe that sustainable living should be hip, not hippie. Here you'll find all sorts of easy hints and tips here for living a greener life that won't compromise your sense of style. As well as the blog I've also written a book on natural cleaning - Fresh Clean Home is out now! Want to know more? Check out the about page for more information or explore the archives using the category tabs above. Say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org. Moral Fibres is always free to read. If you want to support the site's running costs you can buy me a coffee.
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