Behind the Scenes: Organic, Eco-friendly, Sustainable Kid’s Clothes

Cute kid's graphic tees made from recycled water bottles and organic cotton | Trendy Little Sweethearts

There are SOOOO many options for kids clothes these days, and honestly 99% of them are SUPER CUTE, right?!  I love shopping for clothes for my kids.  But when I started selling kid’s clothes a couple of years ago, I quickly learned that not all kids clothing is created equal, not even close.  And most clothing harms Mother Earth a lot more than you would think.

Our children will live on an Earth that could be quite different from ours, and imagine our grandchildren, or GREAT grandchildren!  What will Mother Earth look like for them?

Cute kid's graphic tees made from recycled water bottles and organic cotton | Trendy Little Sweethearts

I picture the whales we help swimming in the ocean, and the elephants going about their daily lives in Africa, and it seems impossible to raise money to help, while harming the Earth we share at the same time.

By no means am I a model for sustainability.  Nor am I an expert.  I do want to make that clear.  Hopefully, as you get to know me, you’ll come to find a mom who simply works each day to better understand the impact my business has on the world, and how I can make that better.

This post has background on why eco-friendly, sustainable clothing is important, and how we’ve made choices to provide the best product we think is available on the market.

Cute kid's graphic tees made from recycled water bottles and organic cotton | Trendy Little Sweethearts

Our shirts are made from RECYCLED Water Bottles, ORGANIC Cotton, and Rayon

I searched for and tested quite a few products before I found these shirts.  You can imagine the heavens breaking and angels singing when I found these!  😉  They are Made in the USA, in New York to be exact.  And I hand-print them with water-based inks and chemical-free supplies.

I’m really proud of the products that we put onto the market, and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned about the clothing industry and why we chose these tees.

Why We Use Organic Cotton

Did you know that the clothing industry is believed to be the 2nd largest polluter in the world?  Second only to oil.

Glynis Sweeney at AlterNet wrote an extensive article on this topic. Highlights include: Cotton is the world’s most commonly used natural fiber and is in nearly 40 percent of our clothing.  Producing ONE cotton t-shirt uses 400 gallons of water!  Each year, an American person drinks about 58 gallons of water, which means manufacturing ONE COTTON T-SHIRT calculates out to the equivalent of 7 YEARS OF DRINKING WATER for a human!  Say what?!!!

While only 2.4% of the world’s cropland is planted with cotton, it consumes:

  • 10% of all agricultural chemicals, and
  • 25% of insecticides
Cute kid's graphic tees made from recycled water bottles and organic cotton | Trendy Little Sweethearts

She states, “Organic cotton is a much more sustainable alternative, but makes up ONLY ABOUT 1% of cotton grown worldwide.  It’s quite expensive to grow compared to conventional cotton. Organic cotton still needs large amounts of water, and the clothing made from it may still be dyed with chemicals and shipped globally, meaning that there’s still a big carbon footprint with cotton garments carrying the “organic” tag.”

We’ve chosen Trendy Little Sweethearts shirts to address these concerns in the best way we know how.  Our shirts are Made in America, by a company extremely focused on sustainable manufacturing.

Our manufacturer:

  • Uses low-impact dyes to reduce water quality impact of manufacturing
  • Recycles water at their facility, reducing consumption and cutting down on water treatment and waste water
  • Financially supports environmental non-profits in the USA

Organic Cotton has:

  • no GMO seeds
  • no pesticides, insecticides, or chemical fertilizers (possible by rotating crops)
  • better maintenance of clean water supply
  • ethical working conditions, higher pay

And, as an added benefit to you, it’s high quality means a longer durable lifespan.  And more play-free days on your children!  😉

Why We Use Recycled Water Bottles

“Ok so wait… you’re telling me that my shirt is made from Recycled Water Bottles?”

Yes, I am!  Is that not the coolest thing you’ve ever heard?  Selling these shirts brings a teensy bit of optimism into my daily life.  I’ve always felt this tinge of pain throwing away a plastic water bottle.  Of course I don’t mean throwing it in the trash (we recycle them), but it still seems like such a waste.

How fun is it to think, “Now that little guy is on its way to become a shirt!”  😉

I know that’s oversimplifying a huge problem we have with waste right now, but hopefully you’ll find a teensy bit of solace in that fact too.

Cute kid's graphic tees made from recycled water bottles and organic cotton | Trendy Little Sweethearts

When I discovered that clothes are made from RPET, I was honestly pretty confused.  I had heard of PET (in Japan, that’s how everyone refers to water/soda bottles), so I wanted to learn more about what RPET means.

The short answer is that a PET bottle has basically the same chemistry as polyester fabric, just molded differently.  Tom Larsen from GreenSmart Notebook says “think of dough in a loaf pan to make bread or dough in a pasta machine to make linguini. The source of both is dough, but, the result is totally different.”

This “dough” of polyester is turned into one of the most insanely soft, vintage looking shirts that I, and a ton of little kids 😉 are IN LOVE WITH!  Seriously, I was on Cloud Nine when I found these shirts, and if it’s possible, I’ve moved to Cloud Ten after working with and selling them for the past 6 months.

I hope that sustainability will continue to become a larger focus for fabric providers, and thus offer more and more products that we can feel good about printing for you.

I am constantly exploring new product possibilities, and it's hard guys! There aren't that many eco-friendly, sustainable choices.

Please email me if you have an organic, eco-friendly, or sustainably focused company and would like to collaborate.  I’d really love to hear from you!

Cute kid's graphic tees made from recycled water bottles and organic cotton | Trendy Little Sweethearts
Cute kid's graphic tees made from recycled water bottles and organic cotton | Trendy Little Sweethearts
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