A Deep Dive into Sustainable Kids Clothes

The fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to global pollution, and
children's clothing is no different. In fact, the fast growth rate of
children means that parents can often find themselves buying new clothes every few months... this leads to a high turnover of product and with that can come increased waste. However, there's a growing number of sustainable kids brands aiming to address these environmental concerns.

But just how sustainable is the current children's clothing market? 

Understanding the Impact of Children’s Clothing on the Environment

Children outgrow their clothes at an alarming rate... a child may
need up to seven size changes in their first two years alone. This rapid growth
means that kids' clothes have a much shorter lifespan compared to adult clothing. As a result, millions of tons of children's clothing end up in landfill each year.
Moreover, conventional methods of producing children’s clothing involve harmful
practices such as excessive water usage and chemical dyeing processes that pollute water bodies. The increased use synthetic materials in the past 20 years (often used by value retailers) are non-biodegradable and can take hundreds, if not thosands, of years to decompose.

The Emergence of Sustainable Kids Clothes

In response to these environmental challenges, many brands are now focusing on
sustainable kids clothes. These companies aim to reduce the environmental impact
by using natural, organic materials, eco-friendly dyes, and ethical manufacturing processes. Sustainable kids clothes are typically made from natural fibres like organic cotton, hemp, or even bamboo which are grown without harmful pesticides or synthetic fertilisers. These natural materials have much higher degrading properties, which is why we use natural rubber and leather in our shoes, as opposed to petro-chemical based synthetics. Plus ethical production with use low-impact dyes which require less water and do not contain harmful chemicals. 

Furthermore, some brands offer take-back programs where they accept used items
and recycle them into new products. We have just launched our ZIG+STAR trade in scheme which allows you to send back your old shoes and receive a £5 voucher for your next purchase. We also encourage you to pass on or resell your old products (and we will continue to take back these re-used goods!)

An even greater opportunity is for brands to create expandable clothing, just as we, at ZIG+STAR, create expandable shoes. There are simple, sustainable-design techniques that can build adjustability into clothing items that allow them to grow with the child and last even longer.

But Are These Efforts Truly Sustainable?

While it's encouraging to see the rise of sustainable kids clothes, it's crucial to
scrutinise these efforts to ensure they are truly sustainable and not just
Firstly, while it's important to consider what sustainable materials are being used they can still be a significant carbon footprint due to transportation and manufacturing processes. Materials cannot be the only answer, brands should aim for a holistic approach that considers all stages of the product life cycle, espeically the end of life.

Secondly, while recycling programs are beneficial, they are not a silver bullet
solution. The recycling process itself can be energy-intensive and may still produce
waste. The simple and most sustainable option is to reduce consumption in the first place and buy products that will last and can be past on. 

Lastly, it's essential to consider the social aspect of sustainability. Are the workers
involved in making these clothes paid fair wages? Do they work in safe conditions?
True sustainability should encompass both environmental and social justice.

How Can Parents Make More Sustainable Choices?

As parents, we can play a significant role in promoting sustainable kids clothes. Here are some tips:

1. Buy less but better: Instead of buying cheap clothes that won't last, invest in
high-quality items that can withstand wear and tear and can be easily past on. Unisex products are espeically good for this (all ZIG+STAR shoes are completely unisex).
2. Choose second-hand: Buying pre-loved clothes is an excellent way to reduce
demand for new products. We will soon be launching refurbished shoes that will redice waster firther while still prioritising foot health.
3. Support ethical brands: Look for brands that prioritise both environmental and
social sustainability.
4. Teach your children about sustainability: Educating our children about the
importance of sustainability can help foster responsible consumption habits from an
early age. Teaching them the value of looking after their products and making them last a long time as opposed to the over consumption of fashion thats exploded in the last 10 years,

The journey towards truly sustainable kids clothes is complex and multifaceted.
While there's no perfect solution yet, every step, no matter how small, towards more sustainable practices can make a difference. As consumers, we have the power to drive change by making conscious choices and supporting brands that align with our values.
So next time you shop for your child, consider its impact on our planet and people. Every little choice counts towards creating a more sustainable future for our children.