They say old habits die hard, but many people are already beginning to tweak their way of life, because of climate concerns. In fact, an ONS report suggests eight out of ten UK adults had made changes to their lifestyle because of climate fears. Whether it’s changing our diet, our means of travel, or where and how we shop – it’s not hard to see it’s unrealistic to carry on as we always have.
By Lucy Todd – Owner and Founder of My Little Green Wardrobe
Here at My Little Green Wardrobe, we’ve started our journey with children’s fashion. As a journalist I was shocked by some of the unpleasant truths I learned while covering the fashion industry for BBC News.
It’s estimated that the fashion industry consumes more energy than both the shipping and aviation industries combined, with some citing it as behind only the petrochemical industry for the environmental damage it causes.
This realization made me personally want to stop buying clothes full stop.
As an adult in my thirties with a wardrobe brimming full of clothes, it isn’t too difficult to drastically cut down on the number of clothes I purchase. But what to do about the littles in my life? The problem with them is they grow. ALL. THE. TIME. And while hand me downs and good quality secondhand clothes are a great solution, there are inevitably going to be times when parents like me, will need or want to buy something new. So how best to minimize the social and environmental impact here?
When I tried to investigate what major retailers were doing to mitigate their impact, I was met with plenty of obfuscation and not much clarity.
Most fashion retailers lack transparency and make it deliberately difficult for consumers to find out about their business practices and how their garments are produced.
A report by Fashion Revolution in June found of the 250 biggest global retailers 99% did not disclose the number of staff being paid a living wage. And a separate report out the same month by the Changing Markets Foundation suggests that 60% of sustainability claims made by 12 of the largest fashion retailers were ‘unsubstantiated’ and ‘misleading’. It’s just not in the interests of large corporations to improve their practices when the main aim of their business is to make money.
It’s therefore shocking, but sadly unsurprising, to think that many high street fashion retailers are still likely employing workers in sweatshop-like conditions – which can include compulsory overtime, no breaks, and child labour.
Worse still, it could even be forced labour. Research conducted by the Center for Global Policy suggests more than a fifth of the world’s cotton comes from an area of China where there is “significant evidence” of forced labour.
The workers may not be paid at all.
In my search for more sustainably produced kids clothing companies, what I also found, however, was a number of small independent brands that are doing things differently.
There is a growing number of ethical brands, who are doing business with an environmental and social ethos at their very core.
But it’s a largely disparate set of companies with no great hub website pulling them all together.
Unless you spent hours searching for them, how would you know they existed or where to look?
Why was there not a great website that had already vetted the brands, and could tell you about them in an easily digestible format?
Shopping more sustainably for your kids shouldn’t be difficult – and this is where My Little Green Wardrobe comes in.
The website launched in June with the aim of being the home of sustainable kids’ clothes – with eight amazing brands currently, and another eight to follow within the first year.
Our brands range from well-established names to exciting new ethical labels, all acting in a more sustainable way than is currently the norm.
We’ve assigned values to each of our brands and their corresponding items eg. planet – for those that are more environmentally friendly; people – for those that act with a social conscience; local – for clothes made in the UK etc.
This means that shoppers can choose to buy clothing according to their own set of values.
And they’ll have the reassurance that all the brands on the site are doing just that bit better by the planet and the people on it.
Sometimes it feels difficult to know what difference you as an individual can make in this fight against climate change, but historically, governments and corporations react to what civil society demands – and particularly to market demands.
You can make a change today by spending your money and supporting businesses that are working to improve the current situation we find ourselves in, like those stocked by My Little Green Wardrobe.
And that is a great new habit to form.