When buying sustainable kids clothes, it’s hard to know where to turn. While there are many more options now than there were even a few years ago, it’s still sometimes difficult to know whether or not a brand is truly sustainable, or if just parts of their process are eco-friendly (to know the difference, check out this post here).
In addition to that, many big-brand clothing companies are not conscious as to where their material comes from, and are unaware that it could be harming others. For example many cotton fields in foreign countries use child labor, and not necessarily willing or paid child labor. While this may not be the case for all big brands, unless a company is certified or open about their sourcing it’s hard to know who sources from where. Afterall they are first and foremost businesses, and likely buy the cheapest, mass-produced materials for their mass-produced clothing.
So, we have broken down different methods and companies to make your go-to guide for sustainable kids’ clothes!
Earth Hero: Ages 0-13
Earth Hero is our number one favorite brand overall for sustainable kids clothes! They carry truly sustainable clothing for ages 0-13 (and for adults!), as well as toys, footwear, water bottles, and more.
What makes them “truly sustainable”? First off, they are a certified B Corporation! (Read this for a better understanding of B Corp) That says a lot. They source their materials from renewable, recycled, upcycled, organic sources; they pay fair wages to their workers who hand-make the clothing; they have carbon-neutral shipping; they make products that are either meant to be composted or recycled, and the products that can’t be either they BUY back and upcycle — thus, their waste and carbon footprint are incredibly low. How cool is that?! That makes this mama super happy. 🙂
Pros: A truly sustainable company! They carry clothing, toys, shoes, accessories, and more for all ages.
Cons: Not much variety within kids clothing yet.
Little Emperor: Ages 2-8yr
Little Emperor is a company dedicated specifically to sustainable children’s clothing, and has some seriously cute prints! They have dresses, short-sleeve shirts, and long-sleeve shirts, and like many sustainable/eco-friendly clothing companies, don’t have too large of a variety. Some may see this as a drawback, but I like that there aren’t many options; I tend to be minimalist and don’t buy an excess of clothes, and fewer options makes my shopping experience easier and faster. 🙂
They are a company that is conscious of their impact on where they source materials, ensuring everyone along the way gets paid a living wage and has good working conditions. They use organic materials, renewable energy, and even bank with a bank that doesn’t use fossil fuels! They also take the material scraps and make them into blankets to reduce waste.
Pros: Super cute clothes for kids; good prices; fully sustainable!
Cons: No real cons! 🙂 They are based in Australia which (depending on where you are based) may take longer to ship — also, because they are based in AU, remember to change the currency in the upper left-hand corner to your currency (AUD is more $$ than USD).
Boody has clothes for men, women, and babies. They source their material from bamboo, a fast-growing resource which makes it a sustainable. They also test for phthalates and heavy metals in their clothing, and stay away from unsafe dyes and chemicals.
Using bamboo for clothing (and other products) is a very sustainable alternative, as bamboo grows rapidly, takes little water use (compared to trees and cotton), and there is no need for fertilizers or pesticides! Making bamboo a naturally organic material that saves water, health, and money.
Pros: Soft; made from a sustainable, organic resource; vegan.
Cons: Only clothes for babies, no older kids.
Sense Organics: Ages 18mo-8yr
Sense Organics is a great option for eco-friendly kids’ clothing. They don’t detail much about their production or any kind of waste management, but they do have a Fair Trade certification (meaning the makers of their materials and clothing get paid fair wages), and use only organic textiles. They have cute, minimalist options for kids, babies, and women, as well as toys. I can’t give any firsthand recommendation, but have heard from others they are comfy, quality clothes!
Pros: Conscious of quality of materials and fair wages in production.
Cons: Not necessarily “sustainable”.
All ages: Buy secondhand
Many people say that one of the best ways to buy susainable kids clothes is secondhand. Consigned clothes are typically good quality and lightly used, and even though they were likely not made sustainably, it is a sustainable practice to save them from landfill while they are still wearable.
On top of that, there is no manufacturing involved in the piece of clothing you buy; manufacturing clothing can produce a lot of waste and pollution.
Thus, buying secondhand instead of firshand can save money and be a great sustainable solution!
HOWEVER, I tend to disagree with this to a degree, because I believe if we are buying exclusively from consignment stores then we aren’t supporing the clothing companies that have taken the step to be revolutionary; to change the way we source, produce, and wear clothing.
Also, lots of popular kids clothing contains flame-resistant chemicals, synthetic dyes, and pesticides which can all be harmful to our children’s health.
Pros: No manufacturing involved; good quality; likely cheaper prices.
Cons: Materials are typically not organic and do contain toxins; we aren’t supporting brands trying to make a difference; we aren’t supporting the fairly-paid workers who either gather materials or make the sustainable clothing.
Where to buy secondhand:
– Your local kids’ consignment store
– Online consignment stores like ThredUP
While we do enjoy consignment shopping, there are pros and cons to purchasing secondhand. It is based on individual preference and finances, but we believe a mix of purchasing secondhand and purchasing sustainably firsthand is the best practice for our family.
There are various companies that make truly sustainable kids clothing, but tend to only make clothing for specific ages. Some other brands also aren’t fully “sustainable” but do still fall under the ethical and eco-friendly category.
Where do you buy your clothing? Do you love other sustainable sources we haven’t mentioned? We love hearing from you, so let us know in the comments below! 🙂