Burberry: Detoxing is not just a fashion fad | Greenpeace International

detox burberryLast week we reported on Greenpeace’s study that discovered toxic chemicals in kids clothes from a number of major retailers. This is not only alarming but surely the final push consumers need to stop buying clothes from fast fashion retailers – if not for themselves then at least for their kids.

The skin is porous and absorbs everything it comes in contact with. If the clothes that you put on your child contain chemicals, these will be absorbed by the skin and could make it in to the blood stream. Your child will also breathe in the chemicals, which could result in respiratory issues. Ever wonder why so many more kids suffer from eczema and asthma nowadays?

It is time to start seriously thinking about the clothes that we are buying and making changes. Our children are so precious to us. We watch what they eat, we put them in hats and sunscreen, we hold their hands when we cross the road – we do everything we can to protect them. Now protect them from the clothes that could be causing them harm.

Greenpeace have launched a campaign against the fashion house Burberry for using materials in their kids’ clothing that contain toxic chemicals. You can read more about what you can do to help let Burberry know that we will not buy their clothes until they can commit to detoxing their brand below.

Change has got to come to the fashion industry. The time is now.

Burberry: Detoxing is not just a fashion fad | Greenpeace International.

burberry detox 2

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A Little Story About the Monsters In Your Closet from Greenpeace

Greenpeace's 'Little Mosnters'

Greenpeace’s ‘Little Monsters’ Image © Greenpeace

Don’t believe us? Greenpeace has just released a report that shows shockingly hazardous levels of toxins in clothes made for kids. The clothes tested came from fast fashion brands, such as American Apparel, C&A, Disney, GAP, H&M, Primark, and Uniqlo; sportswear brands, such as adidas, LiNing, Nike, and Puma; and the luxury brand Burberry. They were also manufactured in twelve different countries. read it here

This is pretty alarming stuff. Not only are these chemicals in the clothes worn by our children, they are also being handled by the workers in the garment trade all over the world. What’s more, these chemicals could be let loose in the environment, harming the natural world and local communities.

Read more about how these chemicals can affect your child here.

Read the Daily Mail’s coverage of this report.

Make a New Year’s Revolution

ofjMZkwAt this time of year, stuffed full and a few pounds heavier from Christmas over-indulgence, we start to heap pressure on ourselves with New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes we stick to them and sometimes we don’t.

How about choosing a few lifestyle changes that are easy to stick to? We’re calling it a New Year’s Revolution. Make a list with your kids of ways to consume less and reduce waste – they will love it, so let them take charge. Here are a few suggestions:

Start a compost
Collect rain water in a water butt to use for watering your garden
Plant some veggies in your garden or on a window ledge
Recycle more of your waste
Choose seasonal fruit and vegetables
Turn off lights when they aren’t in use
Buy less of the stuff you don’t need
Make sure the things you are buying are produced ethically
Buy things that don’t harm the planet to produce or dispose of
Wash your clothes at 30 degrees or less
Hang your washing and use your tumble dryer less
Turn off the water when it’s not in use

Packed lunches are a place where big changes can be made:
Choose re-usable water and drinks bottles rather than plastic bottles and drink boxes
Invest in some re-usable containers instead of foil and cling film
Don’t buy multi-packs (which use more packaging), buy large packs and separate them in to your containers

This lists consists of some simple, every day ideas to live a more sustainable life. You don’t have to take them all on at once and you might have several other ideas for things you can change and do as a family. Start with a couple at the beginning of the year and build on them. You’ll be amazed at how easy these small things are to incorporate in to your lives and they will save you energy, money and reduce your waste. It will also teach your kids to start taking care of their world and being responsible for something. Good all around.

Have fun with it and let us know how you get on! Send us the ideas and lists that your kids come up with and we’ll start an album on our Facebook page.

Happy New Year! May 2014 be the very best year yet.

The Fableists

Choose a Live Tree at Christmas

nQlvmIoAlthough artificial trees can be used year after year, they are not the sustainable choice. They do not last forever and are usually discarded after only a few years. At some point, they will end up in a landfill. As they are made of petroleum products (PVC), they will not biodegrade. They also use up resources during their manufacture and are often shipped from around the world, where they have been manufactured in a factory that may not have been certified as ethical.

A fresh cut Christmas tree that has been grown locally is a good option – especially if it is grown organically, with no pesticides. This is a renewable resource, with two or more trees being planted for every one cut and sold. They are grown in managed farms, not just clear cut from the landscape. Live trees contribute to air quality while they are growing and the vast majority are recycled. We stick ours outside after Christmas with a garland of cranberries and popcorn to feed the birds before we send it off to be recycled for its next life as mulch! If you get a locally grown tree, it won’t have travelled far and it’s helping to employ local people.

Even better, you can buy a live, potted tree. If you buy a small one in a large pot, you can use it for 2 or 3 years without having to re-pot the tree. You can re-plant the tree in your garden when it gets too large to use as a Christmas tree. Be sure to remember that this will grow in to a full-grown tree when considering this option. Do not plant it near any structures or pipes. A local school, park or arboretum might be very happy to re-home your tree when you are done with it.

Merry Christmas!

Gift Wrapping: Some Sustainable Alternatives

gift boxesYou’ve probably done most of your shopping and the time has come to wrap everything up. Why not try to reduce the amount of paper you use this year? After all, you’re just going to have to dispose of it!!

Roughly half of the paper used in a whole year in America is for wrapping and decorating consumer products (Source: The Recycler’s Handbook, 1990). If everyone wrapped just three gifts in re-used paper or re-usable wrapping such as gift bags, it would reduce our paper consumption by tens of thousands of tonnes.

We can all start with three gifts this Christmas. The positive reaction will help us to up the ante next year.

Choose re-usable gift wrap –
Cloth bags can be beautiful and useful to the person you’re gifting. You can buy cloth bags that are specially designed with a seasonal motif, buy plain ones and decorate them yourself with paints, stamps, badges or transfers. A local shop that you regularly frequent might even be willing to give you a few of their promotional bags – after all it will help them spread the word about their business.
Boxes in any material can be used time and again. Line them with a lovely fabric, or top them with a beautiful bow.
Glass jars are very effective if your gift will show beautifully through them! They are also ideal for any perishable or delicate items. Top with fabric and a ribbon.
Fabric wrapping is beautiful. You can tie corners together, stitch or pin the fabric or simply use ribbon to tie together. The wrapping can be part of the present with a brooch being used to secure the gift, a scarf used for the wrapping, or swatches joined together for someone who sews. If you are especially crafty, you could sew your own gift bags with fabric scraps.
A furoshiki is a type of cloth used in Japan for wrapping gifts. They were traditionally used to bundle clothes while at the baths. They are generally decorated with traditional Japanese designs. You can find techniques for wrapping here.

 

Re-cycle –
Hold on to your used wrapping paper (top tip: avoid tape as much as possible as it can damage paper. Secure with ribbon instead). Old wrapping paper can be re-used to wrap presents for someone else and can be given new life with trimmings, or by decorating the paper with stamps, stencils or stickers.
Use other papers to wrap. Old comics, newspapers, magazines, posters and maps make excellent wrapping and can be coordinated with the gift, the person the gift is for or the season. Picture books can be cut up and used to wrap, or use drawings and paintings done by the kids for family members. You can’t hang every one of their masterpieces, after all.

Need to buy wrapping paper?
Choose more environmentally friendly paper. You can find paper that is made from fibres such as hemp or that is made from recycled or partially recycled content. Avoid glossy foil or metallic papers as these types of paper are hard to recycle and have no value as mulch due to the metal content. It also crinkles, making it harder to re-use.

So, let’s all commit to our three presents and save a few thousand tonnes of paper for 2013.

 

 

 

The Supply Chain of a Single T-Shirt via Fair Wear Foundation

Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) is an independent, non-profit organisation that works with companies and factories to improve labour conditions for garment workers. The Fableists’ t-shirts are made by Continental Clothing (we’ll have more about them in an upcoming blog post!), which is one of FWF’s member companies.

This short film, produced by FWF isn’t new but it outlines the supply chain of a single t-shirt so well. It’s worth the 7 minutes viewing time and there are no graphic images, just the straight up facts.

Make informed choices when buying clothes and don’t turn a blind eye. Wouldn’t you reconsider if the clothes you were buying your child were made by someone else’s child?

Your More Sustainable Christmas Shopping List

nQlvmIoIt’s panic time now. You might even have to brave the crowds – and it’s not pretty out there. The shopping frenzy has gotten completely out of hand. People are getting hurt – and worse.

If you are following our blog, it’s likely that you have an interest in at one of these three things: kids, sustainability, design. If you have a child in The Fableists’ age demographic, they probably aren’t ready to completely adopt the ‘rather than presents, let’s donate to a worthy charity’ option and – let’s face it – Christmas is all about the kids.

First of all – a couple of tips:

  • Stay focussed. Don’t be distracted by all the shiny items.
  • Think about what you are buying. Remember that you have to pay for it, wrap it, hide it, get it under the tree, clean up and dispose of the packaging and wrapping, assemble it, tidy it up, store it, fix it, referee over it, fix it, tidy it and tidy it again and then find something to do with it when your kids are finished with it.
  • Think outside the box – literally. Try to avoid over-packaging.
  • Buy less but buy well. Kids will remember the one great gift for the rest of their lives. Can’t you?

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So, without sounding too earnest, here are some last minute Christmas shopping ideas.

An Experience
Give tickets or membership to something your child will love or is desperate to go to. Receiving the tickets on Christmas will be exciting, even if the event is next October. It will give everyone something to look forward to and the experience will be memorable. It could be tickets to an event like live music, sport, a play, the cinema, or you could get a membership to something that will last all year like National Trust, English Heritage, Woodland Trust or RSPB. Perhaps a one day outing like zip-lining, hiking, sea kayaking or a longer trip to some place special, or camping. Choose something you can do together.

Make, Grow or Build
Building toys are a great investment. You can build them up and tear it down over and over and they are usually made of tough stuff that lasts for generations. They are ideal for passing along as they cover a broad age range and are good for boys and girls. All kids love making stuff, cooking, gardening. They love to watch things grow and will enjoy a real sense of accomplishment. If your kids love to draw and colour, then consider taking it up a notch with a pencil set, or some thinner felt tip markers, or a pencil case, compass set, sketch book. A favourite item at our house is unlined Moleskine books. They are durable and drastically cut back on loose sheets of wasted paper.

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Something They Need
Kids will only moan about getting clothes for Christmas if you let them believe it’s a rubbish gift! Father Christmas knows when your child needs underwear, socks, tights, pyjamas, etc. What could be more magical than that? Christmas pyjamas help make the day last in to Boxing Day, too! Or maybe they need new football boots, tap shoes, guitar strings or a sleeping bag. Don’t forget, if you need any (ahem) amazing sustainable clothes, don’t forget to look us up, eh?

Games
Christmas is all about games. It’s the best way to while away the time when the food is cooking and spread out the time between presents. Put a fire on, get those Christmas PJs on and gather round for a rousing game of … what will it be at your house this year?

Books
Finding the perfect book for someone is the. best. feeling. Most kids love at least some kind of book; picture books, silly poems, factual books, trivia or question and answer books, activity books, choose your own ending, mysteries, classics, cookbooks, magical stories, ghost stories, or maybe it’s audio books for long car trips. Even quite grown up kids love to be read to. If your child is ready for more mature content, then why not get a special, more ‘grown up’ book to share with them. If you had a favourite when you were their age, they will love it all the more.

Music Making
Perhaps your child needs a new piano book? Or is interested in taking tuba lessons, or needs a bigger guitar? Or maybe they like listening to music and would use an MP3 player or vouchers to choose the songs they’d like. They could start to build their own music collection, whether its digital, vinyl, CDs or other.

Sports and Outdoor Equipment
Get that new bike you’re waiting for spring to get for Christmas. Even better – buy it second hand on ebay or a local yard sale. Be sure to get it serviced before letting them go out on it. If you’re planning to go camping this year, or on a holiday that requires bits and pieces, then buy them for Christmas! All outdoor equipment can be bought at Christmas: scooters, wagons, skateboard, skipping rope, sledges. They will keep until spring, just get a size bigger! Get a hand me down and clean it up and add some personal decorative touches and you’ll be giving the big kahuna of Christmas gifts!

When in doubt? Organic and Fairtrade chocolate is always well received!

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Hand Me Downs are Totally Awesome!

Seriously? These outfits were never bought new. They were just passed on and on and on...

Seriously? These outfits were never bought new. They were just passed on and on and on… They may even be antiques. After all, they look like they date from 18th century Bavaria and American Pioneer times. But, man – I loved that dress!

A quick search for ‘hand me down’ turns up all sorts of negative connotations: ‘cheap’, ‘shabby’, ‘used’, ‘no good’.

What?

Do you remember when all kids’ clothes were passed around? Raise your hand if you wore the same outfits as your brothers, sisters, cousins, neighbours…? Second hand clothes were not something to be sneered at – you eagerly awaited your turn! As a child, my favourite clothes were the ones that had belonged to my older (and therefore terrifically cool) cousins. I loved getting their clothes and I wore them with pride and when I was done, they went to my brother and my younger cousins. We didn’t call them ‘vintage’ and yet no one turned down their noses at them. It was just what you did and it was the way it had worked since human beings had first covered themselves. We didn’t waste things. Everyone did it – regardless of their background or bank account.

Exactly how, when and why this changed is the topic of endless research and essays. Suffice it to say that somewhere along the way, we started spending our money less wisely, on lesser quality goods. Suddenly everything we bought was made on distant shores so that it could be produced on the cheap (a topic for another day) and we were clamouring for more and more. Our wardrobes and drawers started to overflow and most of the stuff didn’t even get worn. Our consuming is now out of control and most of us have the debt load to prove it. We’re teaching our kids to be bad consumers. And they are missing out on an essential childhood experience. Hand me downs are part of being a kid.

One of the most important things to us at The Fableists, is to make clothes that can be passed on from one child to another. To that end, we’ve designed the majority of our clothes to be worn by both girls and boys. They are made of 100% organic cotton using natural dyes that aren’t polluting the planet (and no chemicals will seep in through your child’s skin, either). They are made of thick materials so that they’ll last. If you wash them in cold water and hang them up, they’ll last longer (and you won’t have to iron them – result!). We want you to buy less of our clothes and wear them more and wear them longer.

So think of buying from The Fableists as an investment in ‘future vintage’. Think of how excited future kids will be when our clothes are handed down to them!

Brand New Items in Stock at The Fableists

Ta-Dah!

Ta-Dah!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks since our launch. We launched with thirteen artist-designed t-shirts on October 29. They have been popular with kids and grown ups alike. We even have a number of adults now roaming around in 9-10 (or smaller!) tees. All of the amazing designs are 100% organic products in accordance with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). They are produced from Indian Cotton, and certified by the Control Union and Soil Association. They have a 90% reduced Carbon Footprint (CO2e) according to the BSI PAS2050 and are certified by the Carbon Trust. The conditions of ethical trade and justice for workers have been audited by the Fair Wear Foundation.

Classic Cut Straight Leg Jeans - Fresh off the boat!

Classic Cut Straight Leg Jeans – Fresh off the boat!

We are very excited to announce that we now have most of our first collection in stock. The denim on the skirt and jeans is dark and heavy – perfect for taking all your little punks can throw at them. They are made for boys and girls and will stand the test of time to be worn by multiple kids. The sizing is generous in both items and each has an elasticated inner waist to allow for growth and accommodate all shapes. The jeans are built a little extra long because we love them with a big turn-up. You can hem them or roll them up but they will allow for that next, inevitable growth spurt.

Classic Straight Cut Denim Jeans

Classic Straight Cut Denim Jeans

Denim Skirt

Denim Skirt

We also have two ultra-soft and versatile tops:

Our classic Breton features blue and white stripes on a fine, organic jersey cotton.
The Baseball Tee is an essential in any wardrobe. With its red sleeves, it provides a great pop of colour on its own, or under dungarees or a sleeveless dress.

Baseball Top

Baseball Top

Breton Top

Breton Top

Finally, our Western Shirt is in stock. Its mother of pearl buttons and classic western styling are ultra-sharp for a smart look that still works hard to keep up with #wildtime.

Western Shirt

Western Shirt

All of these new items are manufactured in India using certified organic cotton. The fabrics are made especially for The Fableists to our specifications and the cotton is grown, woven and dyed by a collective of organic farmers. You can read our interview with Ayan Banerjee, CEO of Chetna Organic here (http://thefableists.com/blog/may-we-introduce-indian-organic-farming-collective-chetna-organic/).

The new items are all 100% organic products in accordance with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). They are also certified by Fairtrade-USA standards, FLOCERT (FLO ID 4512) and SAAS Accredited as SA-8000:2008

You can pre-order the Smock Top, Smock Dress and Chore Coat, which will be here in two weeks.

Check these items out in our web shop today and get them in time for Christmas!

What is a Sweatshop?

Dhaka, Bangladesh - March 2010. Garment factory in Dhaka Bangladesh in the Mohakhali area.  Dhaka counts more than 4000 factories producing for export only. This factory produced garments for the dutch company Hans Textiel. Credits: Clean Clothes Campaign

Dhaka, Bangladesh – March 2010.
Garment factory in Dhaka Bangladesh in the Mohakhali area.
Dhaka counts more than 4000 factories producing for export only.
Credits: Clean Clothes Campaign

The term ‘sweatshop’ is commonly used nowadays to describe any place with poor working conditions. The word can conjure up images of hot, dark, damp factories in developing nations but factories with poor working conditions can come in many different forms and could be right on your doorstep. Although there is no one definition, a factory is generally termed a ‘sweatshop’ if it contravenes a minimum of two labour laws set out by the International Labour Organization. These laws pertain to wages and benefits, child labour and working hours. A sweatshops can be a workplace where employees are subjected to exploitation, discrimination, poor working conditions or abuse. There are sweatshops all over the world, in every country.

Dhaka, Bangladesh - March 2010. Garment factory exterior in the Mohakhali area. Credits: Clean Clothes Campaign

Dhaka, Bangladesh – March 2010. Garment factory exterior in the Mohakhali area.
Credits: Clean Clothes Campaign

In 1998 the International Labour Organization adopted then Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Works outlining four essential principles that many of us take for granted in the workplace:

  • Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining
  • Elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour
  • Effective abolition of child labour
  • Elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation

Because there is no one universal definition of a sweatshop and each country adheres to their own labour laws, it is hard to get a global perspective on how bad the sweatshop problem is. Many of the factories with the worst conditions accept work as sub-contractors and therefore might not be inspected by the company whose items are being manufactured there. Although all big companies have quality control teams and should know exactly where, how and by whom their items are being manufactured, in many cases, the company can claim that it didn’t know their items had been sub-contracted. The factory they have contracted to do the work may be farming the work out to a cheaper factory so that they can increase their mark-up. Big companies are often looking for cheaper, faster options and will move their manufacturing to a new factory, or even country in order to achieve this.

There are all kind of products made in sweatshops but some of the biggest problem items produced or grown under ‘sweatshop’ conditions are shoes, clothing, rugs, toys and crop items such as coffee, cotton and bananas.

Garment Factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh - March 2010 Credits: Clean Clothes Campaign

Garment Factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh – March 2010
Credits: Clean Clothes Campaign

In order to avoid buying sweatshop produced items, consumers need to shop wisely. Companies should be disclosing all the information about where their items are made, who is making them, where and how but until this happens, the choice lies with the consumer. Look for items which are certified by independent associations such as Fair Wear, Fair Trade and GOTS, who have social compliance criteria as part of their organic textile certification programme.

Adhere to the principle of buy less and pay slightly more. It’s a no-brainer that cheap clothes are poorly made out of the worst quality materials by someone who may not have basic rights at work. At the end of the day, paying £1 more for your t-shirt could mean that workers employed in the factories where that t-shirt is made are adults earning a living wage and treated as you would wish to be treated at work.

Garment Factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh - March 2010 Credits: Clean Clothes Campaign

Garment Factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh – March 2010
Credits: Clean Clothes Campaign

For more information check out Clean Clothes Campaign.