organic school uniforms
Education

Ethical and organic school uniforms

If you are conscious of ethically produced clothing, or uniforms that are kind to your child’s skin – then you’ll love these organic school uniforms.

Two mums from London are leading a revolution in the school uniform world.

EcoOutfitters

When Irina Price’s son started school a few years ago, he quickly developed skin rashes and it soon became clear that this was in reaction to the synthetic uniform he was wearing for 6 1/2 hours a day.  It was affecting his learning and causing him discomfort.  Irina searched around for a more natural alternative and drew a blank.  Joining forces with her playground mum friend Marina Petrova they decided that they’d look for a solution to the problem themselves, and so EcoOutfitters (www.EcoOutfitters.co.uk ) was born.

They threw themselves into researching the most naturally sourced materials and started on a steep learning curve about the chemical processes which fabrics go through from beginning to end product.  With her background in anthropology and development, Irina was well placed to research the environmental impact of synthetic materials.

And at school, children learn a lot at about environmental changes so the pair felt strongly that the man-made and chemically-treated uniforms available were undermining what schools were teaching about sustainability.  They wanted to challenge the very fabric of kids’ education.

Their range

From their launch in December 2012, their business, like their products, has grown organically and they now sell a range of skirts; trousers; pinafores; cardigans; T-shirts;  tights and socks worldwide.  They have many loyal customers who return year after year, and are delighted with the feedback they receive, particularly from parents whose children have suffered eczema or other skin conditions.

They are proud of the traceability of their product from seed to garment. Their products are certified by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards – a group who assess high-level environmental and social criteria along the entire supply chain). They are also part of Cottoned On, and organization supported by The Soil Association encouraging more designers to use organic materials.

Cotton is generally considered to be a very natural fabric, but in reality it’s one of the most intensively farmed crops and uses approximately 25% of the world’s insecticides and over 10% of the world’s pesticides. Conventional cotton farmers run great health risks due to the amount of chemicals they handle – it takes around one-third of a pound of fertilizers and pesticides to grow enough cotton for just a single T-shirt.  Added to that, other chemicals used in the production process such as chlorine, Teflon, formaldehyde and toxic dyes and you can begin to see why organic cotton is a more natural choice for children’s clothing – particularly clothing that they spend so much time in.

All EcoOutfitters products are made using organic cotton, from non-GM seed and are free from the harmful chemical processes which can damage the local community, the water supplies and have an impact on the end-user.  The strict social criteria means that everyone from the farmer to the factory worker receives a fair wage.

Certified by GOTS

With recent press coverage of working conditions and safety standards in overseas sweat-shops, consumers are increasingly demanding ethically sourced products.  EcoOutfitters work with a manufacturer in Turkey who are certified by GOTS, and indeed visit the factory themselves to ensure that they provide a fair and safe working environment.

The end result is something EcoOutfitters are proud of – a high-quality, ethical, cool, comfortable and breathable item of uniform.

With prices starting at £14.95 for trousers and £8.95 for a polo shirt, they are determined to show that great quality, ethical and organic school clothing needn’t cost the earth.

They offer a flat-rate delivery cost of £8.99 to EU countries, regardless of order size and ship worldwide.

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Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.

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ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….