At Lalee Kids, we ask ourselves what it means to be sustainable at every step of the way. Ideally, one shouldn’t have to distinguish 'sustainable fashion' from 'fashion'. Placing environmental, social and ethical practices at the heart of running a business should be the norm, not the exception. But given the current fashion climate, it is clear that it will take effort across the board to have an impact: design innovation, government regulation, supply chain improvements and the role that shoppers play.
Lalee Kids believes one of the many ways a consumer can be empowered is through transparency. We believe in giving you all the information you need make better choices about your clothing purchases. That said, we also recognize that the fashion supply chain is frustratingly complex and it is hard to discern between the good and bad. So we are hoping that this checklist will serve as a good guideline when you set out to make your next purchase:
Fabrics you should avoid:
Synthetic clothes are one of the worst pollutants because producing them is more toxic to the environment and washing them can shed microfibers that cause harm to waterways. Avoid polyester, acrylic, nylon, and rayon where possible. Clothing with stretch (athletic apparel and swimwear) uses polyester and is hard to avoid. But it might be worth finding alternatives such as polyester made of recycled water bottles, fishing nets, carpet and other post-consumer products.
What we do at Lalee Kids: we are committed to using organic cotton which is a natural fiber and it is dyed using azo-free dyes. This ensures our clothing is free of toxic chemicals and also helps improve the quality of the soil, prevent water contamination and conserve biodiversity.
Where and how was the clothing manufactured:
This question is important because the fashion industry is one of the largest polluters of water. And it is also notorious for employing cheap and illegal labor. A good way to ensure a brand you favor is employing environmentally and socially responsible practices is by observing how much they are willing to share. As a consumer, you have the right to that information.
What we do at Lalee Kids:
We are proud to partner with a community in South India that is
- A carbon neutral production facility
- Uses GOTS certified cotton
- A green LEED certified production building
- Consumes electricity that is generated through solar power
- Provides fair wages to all employees
- Ensures year-round employment for the weavers
Photo Credit: Five P Venture
Certifications and what they mean:
OEKO-TEX, GOTS, and Fair Trade certifications are the current gold-standard certifications a sustainable business can aspire to. OEKO-TEX is a multi-level certification that ensures the products are free of toxic chemicals and produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way. GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) is a standard by which one can tell whether the textiles contain a minimum of 70% organic fibers. Fair Trade certification is a good way to confirm if the working conditions are safe and the factory workers are paid at least the minimum wage.
What we do at Lalee Kids: Our clothing is produced using GOTS-certified organic cotton in a facility that employes Fair Trade practices. We also ensure the parts used in our clothing are OEKO-TEX certified.
In addition to the above checklist, buying second hand, repurposing/upcycling your garments and building a capsule wardrobe are all effective choices too. We at Lalee Kids believe that sustainability is a spectrum. Sustainability in fashion is about greener production just as much as it is about reducing consumption. It is detrimental to think of sustainability as a binary solution. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, the goal should be to push one step closer to a greener choice. Reuse, reduce, recycle!
Links to organizations that are doing some terrific work to further the cause of sustainability (we will add more resources as we find them):
- Automatically see brands that do good for people and the planet when you search on Amazon or Google, or visit big-name company sites: https://donegood.co
- The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is the apparel, footwear, and textile industry’s leading alliance for sustainable production: https://apparelcoalition.org/
- Global Fashion Agenda is a leadership forum on fashion sustainability: http://www.globalfashionagenda.com/. Their Pulse report, in particular, is very illuminating: http://www.globalfashionagenda.com/publications/
- ICAR harnesses the collective power of progressive organizations to push governments to create and enforce rules over corporations that promote human rights and reduce inequality: https://www.icar.ngo/
- Fashion Revolution believes in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/
Sustainability is a dialogue, so if you have any comments or questions about this article or other related topics, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!