Ballpark Estimate: $10 and $40 an item
Most parents want the best for their babies, even if it means spending a little more to ensure their comfort and safety. This is especially true when it comes to buying organic baby clothes. Using only clothing made of soft, chemical-free fabrics can help protect sensitive baby skin. And organic baby clothes can be better for the environment, too, so when you invest in these items, everyone wins.
Why Green Matters
When you consider the fact that traditional cotton is grown using insecticides and that chemicals are also used for the finishing process, it makes sense that some parents think the benefits of buying baby items made from organic cotton and other more natural fabrics that don’t use chemicals will far outweigh the costs. But in the past, people who bought eco-friendly baby clothing had to sacrifice style since the choices were extremely limited. Today, though, thanks to the growing popularity of green baby wear and the fact that many big name celebrities have recently gotten in on this trend, more designers are responding to the demand by offering a wide selection of styles, fabrics and price points to choose from. This means that many babies can be fashionable and still “do good” for the planet at the same time.
If you want to steer clear of chemically-treated materials and also want to minimize your baby’s carbon footprint in the process, there are several types of green baby clothing that will fit the bill. Here is an overview of a few of the most common choices and what you can expect from them.
Organic cotton is probably the most common fabric you will find when you shop for green baby clothes. Since it doesn’t contain any chemicals, it will be more breathable than more tradition cotton items. In addition, it will be less likely to cause rashes. Better yet, the pure state allows it to be much softer than cotton grown using traditional methods. It is important to note, though, that organic cotton does need water and fertilizer to grow, so it does have somewhat of an environment footprint. On the other hand, it doesn’t use pesticides and herbicides so its impact is at least minimized. In addition, the process of its growth replenishes and maintains soil fertility, so it also has some lasting benefits.
Bamboo is another common material that is used for green baby clothing. And while you may think that Cost For Green Baby Clothingbamboo would be scratchy, actually its spun fibers are extremely soft. They are also hypoallergenic and naturally flame resistant. In addition, a unique feature of bamboo is that it is thermal regulating. This means bamboo baby clothes can help keep babies warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This makes it an especially good choice, particularly for a newborn. Most bamboo comes from China, so it is generally more expensive than fabrics that are grown in the U.S. when you add in the cost of transporting it. But bamboo offers large environmental benefits, such preventing soil erosion and releasing more oxygen than many other plants and trees. However, critics do point out that the downside of bamboo is that some natural forests have been cut down to make room for bamboo fields.
Soy is extremely soft, which means it will feel good against a baby’s skin. Hence, it has earned the name “vegetable cashmere.” It also retains warmth well. Soy is considered a renewable resource, since its fibers come from the waste byproducts of edible soy products, including tofu, soy milk and soybean oil. This means it is a good choice if you want a fabric that is completely sustainable so as to leave a minimal impact on the environment. The only downside to using soy for baby clothing is that the proteins in the fiber can break down from high heat, so check the washing instructions before you put any soy items in your drier.
Hemp is not as soft as the other options, but it is very durable and very absorbent. It also does get softer with use. Further, when hemp is combined with cotton, linen or silk, it can make clothing that will soft enough to have against a baby’s skin. However, keep in mind that there is a ban on growing hemp in the United States, so it must be imported from other countries, which drives up the cost. But on the plus side, one acre of hemp nets about three times the amount of cotton, so it is a very efficient crop. Hemp farming is also good for the soil.
Read the Labels
Whether you select organic cotton, hemp, soy or bamboo clothes, or perhaps even a blend of a few of these fibers, you will want to read the labels so you will know exactly what you are getting. This is because even some of the green fabrics may have undergone chemical treatments or used dyes, so they may not be in the pure state you desire. In addition, some clothing items are specially treated to give them additional properties, such as making them shrinkproof, stretchproof, stain-proof, water proof and water repellent. While this can be appealing at first, especially when it comes to buying baby clothes (after all, who wouldn’t want a onsie that wouldn’t be stained by baby food?), don’t forget this also counteracts the benefits of buying natural fibers. In addition, it can expose your baby to substances that can irritate his or her skin or lungs or cause illness. That’s why it’s important to be an educated consumer when you shop.
To ensure that an item is truly organic, the experts recommend looking for products that meet the standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If unsure, you can call the manufacturer and ask them, or check the seller’s website for this information.
Support Fair Trade
In addition to learning about what your baby clothing is made from, you may also want to know where it is made and by whom. Generally, most people want to support companies and factories that provide fair wages for their workers and provide humane working conditions. Just keep in mind that fair trade (or sweatshop free) clothing refers to the conditions under which clothing is produced and has nothing to do with whether the fabric itself is organic or chemical free.
Where to Shop
There are more choices than ever before when it comes to buying organic baby clothing. You can do a search online to find a number of specialty websites and children’s stores that feature organic and eco-friendly lines. Some of the popular options include Hanna Andersson, Under the Nile, and Baby Bambu. In addition, Target, Walmart and Sam’s Club also now offer their own lines of organic baby clothes.
What It Costs
How much are you willing to spend for organic baby clothes? One market-research company estimates that many Americans are willing to part with up to 20 percent more for organic items, including baby clothes. Cost For Green Baby ClothingThis is good news, since organic and eco-friendly clothes do come with a higher price tag than more traditionally produced items. This means that they are not practical for some new parents who are watching their pennies, but those who can come up with the extra money will find a range of stylish baby items to select from. Just like traditional baby clothes, eco-friendly options also come in a wide range of prices. You can find some of the moderate items on sale, or you can splurge on designer one-of-a-kind pieces, depending on your budget. But to give you an idea of what’s out there, here is a sampling of a few common types of eco-friendly baby items available. The prices for organic cotton, bamboo, soy, hemp and organic blends all fall within these ranges for such basic items.
Eco-friendly baby T-shirt: $10 to $30
Keep in mind that that traditional cotton baby t-shirts sold at Walmart or Target start at about $5 or less but then go on up from there.
Baby pajamas: $20 to $40
Traditional cotton pajamas generally start at about $10 or less.
Baby cardigan: $20 to $40
Compare this to a traditional baby cardigan, which starts at about $15.
Newborn cap: $10 to $15
You can spend between $5 and $10 for a newborn baby cap made of traditional cotton.
Baby Blanket: $20 to $60
A regular cotton baby blanket starts at about $15 and goes on up from there.
While many parents will recognize the benefits of buying eco-friendly baby clothing, not everyone will be able to justify the added expense. But even if you can’t afford organic baby clothes, you can still take steps to protect the environment by buying second-hand clothing or using hand-me-downs from family and friends. You can also look for people who have baby clothing in your area to give through Freecycle and the Holistic Mom’s Network. And if you do decide to buy some new items, consider donating them for other children to use when your own babies outgrow them. In this way, you will protect the earth’s natural resources and also have a chance to teach your little ones an important lesson about giving to others through your example.