Green Kids Clothes: You Have to Spend (Cash) to Save (the Planet)
We try really, really hard to remember to bring our reusable totes to the grocery store (honest, we do!). We've changed out most of our light bulbs to those of the energy-efficient variety. We recycle a mountain of Diet Coke cans and piles of newspapers each month. And while we're not ready to give up our car, we are totally willing to share the road with bicyclists -- even when they stray from the bike lane.
But one eco-friendly area we've yet to venture into full force is the new world of sustainable and organic kids clothes out there. And, seeing as it's Earth Day, and all, we did a little digging and have found that while eco-friendly kids clothes may have been difficult to find in the not so distant past, styles are cuter and trendier than ever before."Parents these days are more conscious about the environment," Efi Latief, owner of Tomat, a line that carries a collection of organic clothes for infants and toddlers, tells ParentDish. "When parents have choices, and especially if cost is not a problem -- even though some organic clothing prices are about the same as a non-organic -- then they will definitely go organic."
So what, exactly, makes an item of clothing organic?
The site points to organic cotton, organic wool, hemp, Tencel, silk and bamboo as fabrics to consider in making eco-conscious clothing choices.
OK, now that we've got that settled, here are five things to consider the next time you go shopping for your little green gals and guys.
1. It's getting easier and easier to buy organic kids clothes. Annie Kaskade, owner of GreenEdgeKids.com, a site that carries more than 40 eco-friendly brands, tells ParentDish that with the number of eco-freindly parents in the United States continuing to rise, even mainstream stores are now adding organic kids clothing to their shelves.
"You can buy organic clothing at Target now," she says. "Nordstrom's doing a big push for organic clothing. Everyone wants it and the only real barrier we have right now is the economy, because it does cost a little bit more."
2. Expect to spend more, but buy less. Typically, you will have to shell out more for organic clothing -- the companies that make it are smaller, organic fabric costs more and many organic lines manufacture their products in the United States -- all contributors to cost, Kaskade says.
So, how do you justify spending more -- especially in this economy? Kaskade says if you're going to buy a new shirt or dress or pants for your kid, try to make it organic (and look for sales, of course), but then buy other clothing items on your list used.
"Look to recycled, look to used clothing, thrift stores, garage sales, because that's extremely eco-friendly," she says. "Make it a combination. ... Kids don't actually wear all that many clothes, and most parents acknowledge that. Most parents buy way too many things and their kids never wear half of it."
3. You'll be in good company. According to her company's research, Kaskade says more than 60 million women in the United States have kids, more than 20 million have kids ages 16 years or younger, and half of those moms are socially or environmentally conscious.
"That's a pretty big number," she says, but adds that the majority of consumers still doesn't make decisions based on eco-friendliness. "They care about price. But you'd be amazed how many people -- a lot of our customers -- care tremendously."
4. Eco-fashions go way beyond the T-shirt or occasional dress. "We are selling everything now, from outerwear fleece to underwear to socks," Kaskade says. "There's nothing you can't buy that's organic now for kids. Swimwear is brand new. Every single aspect of clothing can be organic or eco-friendly. ... The organic designers are no different than the conventional designers."
5. And don't worry about style suffering. The notion that eco-friendly clothes are more hippie than hip is totally over.
"Nowadays, lots of people think of all organic products as something necessary to be kind to this planet," she says. "So it also applies to fashion -- organic clothing has evolved from being hippie to trendy and hip. There are lots of cool designs out there from green companies for everybody, not just for the hippies."
Related: Color Us Happy! Spring Fashion Trends for Kids are Bright On
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.