How I dress my daughter for school in Fairtrade, organic cotton and second-hand clothing. Anyone who has been following me on social media may have seen the impact that watching The True Cost had on me in 2017. This film highlights the importance of buying Fairtrade clothing (or second-hand) and the impact of fast fashion on the environment and communities, and also how appallingly garment workers are often treated is not something one can ignore. The True Cost is available on Netflix and other channels. If you are not yet aware of the impact fast fashion has on the planet and people, it is an essential watch.
Many supermarkets and high-street retailers begin waging a war with each other at this time of year – all trying to offer uniforms at the lowest cost possible to get parents and carers through their doors. Someone somewhere is paying the price for these cheap garments, which are often a false economy as they are cheaply made and not made to last. While writing this I am aware that not everyone has a choice to spend more money upfront for a longer-lasting uniform – but those of us who have a choice should put our money where our morals are. The thought of some worker, perhaps even a child, working in dangerous inhumane conditions just so my child can wear a bargain uniform is not acceptable. So how do I ethically dress my daughter for school?
Please note this is not a sponsored post. All items have been purchased by me at full price advertised and as a normal paying customer.
Lots of schools offer second-hand uniforms at a huge discount at their summer fairs (or via the reception). Annoyingly, I missed my daughter’s school’s one this year so I just headed to our local charity chops and picked up a few school shirts and a white PE top – all for under £5. The money goes to supporting Scope which is one of my favoirite charities rather than supermarkets and high-street retailers that are irresponsibly producing cheap clothes at the cost of garment workers.
Organic and Fairtrade
Eco Outfitters are the only uniform sellers I’ve managed to find that have an ethical backbone and are certified with the Global Organic Textile Standard. GOTS certification guarantees that everybody involved in the production chain is earning a fair wage and no child labour is used. By buying GOTS certified products you are not just buying organic, you support sustainability and ethics in textile industry. As their uniforms are organic, if your child has sensitive or allergy-prone skin, organic cotton is your best bet. I have been buying Ruby’s uniform myself from Eco Outfitters for about 18 months. I have found the clothes to last the entire school year making them amazing value for money, and I have been able to donate them to charity shop after use for additional wear by a younger child. They also package their clothes individually in biodegradable bags and the whole order is sent in a recyclable paper packet.
This has been the trickiest part. As vegans, we don’t want to wear the skin of animals, so finding ethically made leather-free shoes has been a challenge. So far we have just been buying TOMS black shoes, which are perfect for vegans – plus they are such a great company. Through your purchases, TOMS helps provide shoes, sight, water and safer birth services to people in need. Learn more about what they give here. Ruby has had these shoes for school for the past two years and they wear very well, again enabling hand-me-downs after she has outgrown then. TOMS also has fantastic sales throughout the year. At one point one style of their black shoes was only £16 each so we brought a few pairs in different sizes – when you see them at this price grab them!
I have tried a few plastic lunch boxes and reusable water bottles and they just break. Although a more expensive option at first I have now gone for steel as it fits in with us aiming towards zero waste. To be honest I wish I’d have just saved myself the money and ordered these first. Loads of places make steel containers – these are the two I use and I can’t fault them. They are both designed to outlive Ruby’s school days so I’ll be nabbing them for myself soon enough! Kleen Kanteen bottle and the Mintie lunch box comes with a little lidded pot inside handing for chopped up fruit or wet foods and a linen bags which you can have personalised. For vegan kids’ lunches ,see our dedicated post here.
I hope this post has been helpful – if anyone has any other tried-and-tested ethical brands, drop me an email or comment below and share the love with other parents out there as we are all trying to do our best!