Tuesday, July 08, 2008

my son is outgrowing all his clothes!

As usual I've been far too busy to blog for ages, and one of the things that has been keeping me busy is keeping my two year old clothed and fed (not to mention amused... and don't even get me started on nap time!)... Normal parents would probably just pop over to the local department store and stock up on the next size up in pants, shirts, sweaters etc (it's winter here in Australia!), but since I have made a commitment (to myself, and now to cyberspace) not to buy new clothes for anyone unless they are made from organic cotton, bamboo, modal, etc.... it makes replenishing wardrobes a bit trickier!

Since it would be pretty expensive to buy all organic-cotton wardrobes, a lot of our clothes are second hand... this is better for many reasons, including a reduced ecological footprint (it's not just about carbon!), a reduced price-tag (which means I can afford new organic clothes), and the main reason motivating my stance: safety. New clothes, especially those made in China (which is most of them these days) are sprayed with horrible chemicals, such as flame-retardants, fumigants, etc. This is on top of whatever chemical residues are already on the fabrics, such as pesticides, fertilizers, dies, and plastics (all those licensed cartoon characters on kids clothing are actually quiet toxic).

So yesterday I went to our local "opp shop" (short for Opportunity Shop, ie second hand store run by a charitable organization) and got 16 items for $69... now this is actually pretty expensive as far as opp shops go, but it was called the "Posh Opp Shop", and we got very nice stuff for my son (some of which won't fit him for a few years, but that will save me some trouble down the track), much of which were expensive brand name clothes in great condition. I still had to be careful to avoid shirts with toxic decorations (ie no Bob, Thomas, Dora, or Pooh), not just for environmental reasons, and because I don't like my child being free advertising for multi-national media conglomerates.

Another good thing about buying from shops run by the Salvation Army and other charities is that they are usually run by volunteers, and any profits are given to charity. I still feel a bit bad about buying second hand clothes though, because it means we're benefiting from the fact that some other family has been exposed to the nasty residues as they slowly get washed off and absorbed into the skin of young children, but hopefully as more people become aware of the dangers lurking in those sweet flannel pjs (I'm not just scare-mongering here, this is really really an issue of concern, if you don't believe me, google it), there will be fewer toxic clothes on the market.

I also make use of ebay, for second-hand and organic clothes, and I try to support local small-businesses that use sustainable fabrics to make fair-trade products. Yesterday we also received a big package from one of my favorite Australian companies, Blessed Earth, that included toddler pants, and for me: organic socks, tights, underwear, bra, towels and a pillow cover (it was all on sale!).

Now we're all set for clothes for the winter, and I'm feeling better about our wardrobe's footprint... my next challenge is naptime... I can't get the organic toddler down for a nap without driving him around the block for 20 minutes (the stroller works too, but as it's winter it's pretty cold and rainy most days)... so, as my husband says, our naptime has a huge carbon footprint! Any suggestions????


Kate Tanaka (kkkkatie_53@hotmail.com) said...

I too have been compacting, (although I only just found out that it had a name), reducing my ecological footprint, withholding my consumerism from multinational cooperations... etc. and buying second hand from op shops and ebay, but recently this has become my question. How many times does an item of clothing need to be washed to remove all traces of nasties? What about the blankets I made out of polar fleece in lovely bright colours.... I can't seem to find the answer anywhere, maybe noone knows, but nasties have been used on nearly everything under the sun for some time! I too am saving up for organic quilts, I bought mattresses made from organic wool last tax time.....
Do you have any ideas on how many washes before clothes are safe.....

Annie said...

Hi Kate,

Thanks for your comment, that's a great question, and one to which I don't really have an answer... I'll look into it, and in the meantime, if anyone else knows, please post something here!

I try to only buy clothes that are either second hand, or made from organic cotton/bamboo, etc. Occasionally I have to buy something new (or am given something new) so I make sure to wash it a number of times, and hang it outside to get some fresh air and sunshine into it! I sometimes soak things for a while too. I try not to wash new clothes with anything else, to avoid cross-contamination.

I even find that sometimes when I buy second hand clothes I have to wash them a number of times to remove the scent of the previous owners laundry detergent!

Anonymous said...

I found a website with some ideas on how to remove the residue, but is doesn't really say if and when they would all be gone, the link is http://organicclothing.blogs.com/my_weblog/2007/02/removing_odors_.html
I find myself cringing at the many things that people expose themselves to, but attitudes are so entrenched that it is hard to say anything without sounding like an eco crank!!
I guess we have to start somewhere!! I am going to give eco friendly Xmas presents, see how I go!

easybakeoven said...

Was there any update in this...why shouldn't I put my DD in flannel??