Why Your Children Should Wear Sustainable Clothing
By: Stephanie Hauptli, Founder of Hauptli Haus Kids
Hauptli Haus Kids baby scarves, also called Nuscheli, are commonly worn in Switzerland to protect children’s necks and chests from becoming wet from drool and catching a cold. When I became a mother, I made some of the scarves for my daughter, and the feedback from strangers asking where they could buy them was overwhelming, so I started Hauptli Haus Kids and found a way to improve on them. Biodegradable, made from organic and fair-trade cotton, chemical free and safe for biological systems, Hauptli Haus Kids scarves are the first children’s product to reach the gold level of certification through the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovations Institute.
When creating Hauptli Haus Kids, as I got deeper and deeper into the production aspects of the line; I realized the abuse to our planet that the fashion industry causes. Once I heard about Cradle to Cradle (a non-profit organization that provides designers and manufacturers with criteria and requirements for continually improving what products are made and how they are made from a sustainability standpoint), I couldn’t not pursue it – even though it changed my entire business model. I could manufacture Nuscheli in China for a fifth of the cost, but I couldn’t live with myself knowing I was contributing to one of the biggest environmental crises happening right now. By choosing Cradle to Cradle, I narrowed down my audience significantly because of the price tag alone, but in the end, I’m capturing an audience that will change the world for the better. Creating Hauptli Haus Kids has inspired me to live more sustainably – and to dress my children in more sustainable clothing.
It starts with the damage to our planet (the fashion industry is the second largest polluter on our planet!) and ends in damaging our own (and our children’s) health. But they really go hand-in-hand if we take a closer look. Most clothing is made from cotton, and cotton farming typically requires a lot of pesticides for a healthy crop. These pesticides, along with the harmful chemical clothing dyes, end up in the waste water and pollute our oceans and lakes, and ultimately end up in the food we consume as well. These chemicals also more directly affect our delicate skin when we wear garments that have been treated like this. Each cotton t-shirt uses a pound of chemicals in the dying process, and that adds up incredibly fast, not to mention how disastrous it is for our environment.
Also, consider the workers that fabricate clothing in close proximity to such high amounts of chemicals and unsafe conditions-- their health is likely to take the biggest hit. The question is at whose cost. Not the consumers, unfortunately, or else, there would’ve likely been a switch to more sustainable manufacturing practices and healthier fabrics a long time ago. Many people, especially babies, have allergic reactions to these chemical dyes, and their health is impacted. It’s not what we want for our children, is it? If you imagine how fast and profoundly children grow and develop in their first few years of life, their brains are developing at lighting speed. The less exposure to toxic materials, the better for their health and development. Sustainable clothing is a safe choice.
Look for brands that openly share their initiative for sustainable manufacturing and material sourcing or look for certifications they’ve worked with to achieve their goals, such as Cradle to Cradle. Having a certification as proof helps the consumer see through the companies who claim to be “green” but aren’t really. It’s a big trend for fashion brands to say they are “green”, and you’ll encounter companies that are improvising. If there is no regulation to prove their full-circle sustainability efforts, it’s difficult for companies to be trusted in this.
As an example, we see companies list where their items are made, and some of their items are “imported” while others are listed as “made in Portugal” for example. We can all assume what “imported” might mean. A label like Cradle to Cradle, for example, is really one of the highest standards to meet in terms of sustainable fabrication and materials. They use 100% renewable energy, they recycle the excess water from production, so there is no waste, they use pesticide-petroleum- and chemical-free natural fibers and dyes. In a nutshell, everything that they take from nature can safely return to the biosystem without having depleted or polluted our earth or affected our health in a negative way. It’s reassurance for consumers. Transparency helps intentionally seeking out sustainable fashion products and gives us power in making informed choices.
No doubt a habit shift is required to be more selective in what we chose to bring into our homes and lives. It’s not easy (or cheap!); it takes discipline and planning. But once you’ve committed to improving your choices and being intentional about supporting sustainable brands for your own health, you will quickly realize how good it feels. The quality of sustainable clothes is usually much better as well. And with better quality, you can pass along clothing to other children and maximize the lifespan instead of filling our landfills.
Stephanie is a Los Angeles-based interior and product designer. She grew up in Zurich and Paris and has been living in California for the past twelve years. After earning her BFA in interior architecture from CSULB, she started her career at an architecture office in Geneva before returning to Los Angeles and finding her niche at a design office in Malibu. In 2015, she formed her design business, Hauptli Haus, and in 2017, Hauptli Haus Kids was born. With both businesses, Stephanie drew upon her background in the arts, which has been influential in all parts of her life. Motherhood is what truly inspired her to seek out and educate herself on healthy products, although living sustainably is in her blood, as her maternal grandfather (who immigrated to the United States from Madeira, an island off the coast of Portugal) was the first organic fruit grower in California. For Stephanie, motherhood and both businesses are all intertwined. Her aesthetic and her brand very much represent the point of view of a mother, business owner, creative designer and wife – the contrast between soft and strong. Stephanie lives in Venice, California with her husband Andrew Obermeyer, their very stylish daughter Ray Lac, and her brother Luc.