Do kids have to come at the expense of the planet?

Do kids have to come at the expense of the planet?

In April, I was honoured to be able to speak at Sustainable Discovery in Chelsea, London about the impact our children have on our planet. We had the pleasure of meeting so many of our lovely customers as well as inspiring brands and founders alike making real change in their creation of sustainable products. The Sustainable Discovery team organised a fantastic few days and we truly enjoyed being part of such a brilliant event. 

On Sunday afternoon I took to the main stage to answer the hot topic: ‘Do kids have to come at the expense of the planet?’ As the founder of KIDDYKIND, this is a topic very close to my heart, and one of the reasons that inspired me to create KIDDYKIND. If you missed it, you can read the transcript below.

At KIDDYKIND we focus on bringing together natural, ethical and sustainable products all in one place. We are home to award-winning conscious products and brands that care about your children and the planet. Our goal is to make conscious shopping for babies and kids much more convenient. 

Here are some of the astonishing facts we found that encouraged us to embark on our journey. 58.6 tonnes of carbon per year, that is the famous fact that everyone quotes. Surprisingly, this is the environmental toll of having one child per year. It has been calculated that on average, when looking at an 80 year life span, a human will contribute 58.6 tonnes of carbon to our environment annually! That's around 700 tonnes of carbon in our 80 years on the planet.

Have you ever thought about how we are creating so much carbon? Much of it comes from the waste we generate every day. Let's look more specifically at the children's industry. Every year in the UK, it is estimated that we send 3 billion nappies to landfills, so just think about the world figure. 

Before a child's 13th birthday, on average they typically own nearly 500 toys; not only do they take up your whole house, but if each toy costs on average £30, that would have cost you £15,000; you could have gone on a luxury holiday to the Maldives instead. The total waste generated from all these toys when you throw them away is over 34 full wheelie bins sent to landfill. And that's an average for just one child.

When it comes to shoes and clothing on average, a child needs a new pair of shoes every four months and new clothes every six months. So you can see why there is a debate about whether having kids impacts our environment.

So, what do we do about it? We all know the answer, be more sustainable! But what does that mean?  

We have all heard the buzzwords, so much so now that I think they have lost meaning. Everyone seems to claim they are ‘sustainable’, and we see so many overwhelming words used in marketing campaigns. I would like to start by breaking down sustainability and what it means by discussing the key concepts behind sustainability. 

Think more consciously about what you throw away, and actively try reducing what you throw away daily. Typically, once we are done with something, we throw it out; it leaves our space but it has to go somewhere, and that is mostly landfills. Instead, see if you can fix, repurpose or reuse the item; if you no longer need an item, why not try to sell it or donate it so it can continue its lifecycle? 

Buy less. We have all been in the position where we go to clear out a wardrobe or a cupboard and find things we never knew we had, and the majority of those items still have the tags on. We should instead think more consciously about what we are buying, whether we will actually use it, whether we have something similar and whether it will serve a purpose. A useful tip is to wait 24 hours before purchasing something you have seen to see if you still want it.

Buy better. The reality of life is that we do need new things, so instead of buying something cheap, made from poor quality, and where workers are treated unfairly, choose brands that are creating products consciously. 

What do you need to look for when you are buying better? Natural, ethical, and sustainable.

Look for items that are made from natural materials such as cotton, linen and silk. Unfortunately, however, it's not so straightforward. Cotton accounts for 2.5 % of agricultural land, but it uses almost 20% of the world's total annual pesticide, insecticide and fungicide, making it highly toxic to the farmers and environment; no wonder it's called the world's dirtiest crop. This is one of the reasons why organic cotton that has been certified is a preferably alternative. You could also choose an alternative natural materials such as hemp, which is 200 times stronger than cotton fibres and has natural insect and pest-repellent properties. 

To be considered ethical, fashion must be produced with environmental and social responsibility. Ethical fashion brands ensure that the people who make their garments are paid fairly and work in discrimination free, empowering and safe environments. It typically aims to reduce the negative impact on people, animals, and the planet. Producing clothing involves design, labour, and materials, and ethical practices focus on being kind to the planet and people every step of the way, from seed to garment. It considers the impact of the materials used including packaging. Linen, cotton, polyester, denim, ECONYL; each fabric has a different impact on the planet and choosing a material with a lesser environmental impact (organic cotton) or repurposing a material that is already in circulation (deadstock) is typical of ethical companies. Traceability of the supply chain for materials all the way back to the farmers who harvest the crops is also imperative.. 

Today's fast fashion industry has gripped the world with its promise of never-ending trends, criminally low prices, and convenience. As a society, we have grown used to the overproduction of extremely cheap clothing available at the click of a button; whilst the humans who produce this clothing and the planet from which finite resources are being extracted have become an afterthought. So, as responsible humans, we must focus on practising and opting for ethically produced products over fast fashion alternatives. 

In today's fast paced, consumer driven society, the allure of fast fashion can be tempting. Yet, as we navigate the rising tide of sustainability, the spotlight is increasingly on sustainable fashion and the pivotal role of longevity in clothing. Beyond the initial cost, you might ponder why sustainable clothes are so expensive, but the promise of a sustainable clothing revolution truly underscores the importance of longevity. Embracing longevity clothing means investing in high quality, durable pieces that withstand the ravages of time, thereby curbing our consumption and alleviating the strain on our planet. However, longevity in fashion isn't confined to mere durability. It's a transformative concept, advocating for a shift in consumer behaviour towards sustainable fashion. It champions the appreciation of craftsmanship, the elegance of timeless styles, and the selection of garments that transcend seasonal whims. It's about cultivating a wardrobe that narrates a personal journey rather than succumbing to the fleeting allure of the latest trends. By looking past the price tag and harnessing the enduring value of longevity clothing, we can actively participate in shaping a more sustainable future for fashion.

Unfortunately there is also a growing trend of many well known, global , trusted brands partaking in greenwashing. Brands that greenwash don't just hold back the positive impact of the sustainability movement – they also hurt themselves. Overclaiming a product's sustainability credentials with misleading wording can lead to criticisms that undermine its brand image. So, how can businesses avoid greenwashing? Just as consumers are increasingly confused and distrusting brands, businesses can fall prey to the sustainability claims of potential suppliers, too. In either case, detailed facts are the only way to tackle misinformation. That means asking suppliers questions that focus on evidence:

How should it be used and disposed of to meet its sustainability claims? 

Look for widely recognised third-party certifications– and be wary if none are present.

One of the biggest culprits of greenwashing is fast fashion. It's a business model where companies replicate catwalk trends and high-fashion designs, mass-produce them, and sell them for a low cost. Again, to keep their costs low, they usually use low-quality materials, treat their work unfairly, and underpay their workers. 

We have seen a lot of high street brands launch conscious ranges and claim to be eco-friendly, however in reality they are generating 42 million tonnes of plastic waste each year which then goes on to generate 10% of the microplastics entering the ocean annually. 

The waste generated from the textile industry alone accounts for 5% of the items in landfills. So, can they claim to be green? They may be using organic cotton, for example, but if you look at the whole supply chain, the garments have been made by poorly and unfairly treated workers.

Greenwashing in fashion is increasing, making it difficult for individuals to know whether they are consuming responsibly or from misleading brands. Such practices deceive customers with claims not backed by evidence and bear social, ethical and environmental repercussions. The fast fashion industry has been a major culprit of this malpractice. They have often been found to use the climate crisis as a means of marketing without pursuing a fundamental shift in their business model.

The alternative to fast fashion and the solution to our problem is slow fashion. Slow fashion approaches the production process from a more mindful perspective. It considers the sustainability and ethics of every step in its supply chain and pays attention to the quality of the items it produces. Slow fashion is all about the brands that use natural materials and finishes, ethical processes, and sustainable policies throughout their business. It's all about the brands that are always striving to keep improving. 

At KIDDYKIND we support businesses that champion slow fashion. Some make garments from organic cotton that have been designed with gender neutrality and equality in mind so they can be easily passed down between siblings and cousins. 

Bamboo nappies and wipes have been designed to fill a gap in the market. There are plastic disposable nappies available and then, on the other side, reusable nappies; what these nappies do is bridge the gap. They are disposable for those not quite ready for the reusable nappy journey but biodegrade; they don't live forever in landfills. They are super soft for your baby's skin and naturally hypoallergenic.

Another example is a brand that is completely plastic-free, has no hidden polyester and is made from organic materials. The founder's motto is that sustainability is the real luxury of life. These products have been designed to support low-toxic living, remove all toxins that are leached into the air from your kids' products, and make your children's environment cleaner.

We have other brands that are thinking about the circular economy and how to create real longevity for the lifecycle of a product using different initiatives. 

However, although there are so many benefits of shopping more consciously, including that it's better for the planet and better for you, there are still many barriers.

The first obstacle is the price point. Yes,it is higher, but it will generally give you greater benefits in the longer run. It may seem higher in the first instance, but when you work out the price per wear, it is mostly the same, or less for an item of better quality.

Lastly, most people say their biggest obstacle is time. They feel it's highly time consuming to research products. When you read product descriptions, they all seem fantsatsic, but then when you get to the small print, it's filled with toxic chemicals (it's that dreaded greenwashing again).

That's one of the reasons why we created KIDDYKIND—to make conscious shopping easier. We do all the hard work and research all the products for you so you know that everything available on KIDDYKIND is either natural, ethical, or sustainable. 

You, as a consumer, have the power in your hands to make a change. You are the ones who can make the change happen from the bottom up by supporting small businesses that make the biggest impact on the community, on our environment, and on our futures. When you buy from a conscious brand instead of a fast fashion brand, you are forcing large organisations to make more radical changes. 

So in conclusion, the answer to the question ‘Do kids have to come at the expense of the planet?’ is no. If we are more conscious about the waste we generate and about the items we buy and how we dispose of them, we can limit our impact on the environment positively. 

Thank you so much and if you have any questions or would like to discuss further, I would love to hear from you. Please do not hesitate to contact me on

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