The next generation are now fully aware of what’s going on with our planet. And The Extra Smile finds it fantastic to watch how invested our green warriors in training are towards it. Our kids have a role to play in getting our planet on the right track, and that starts every morning when they wake up and get dressed.
Much like all good habits, start ’em young! Now your kids might not be reading this article but as parents, you are responsible for instilling these good habits within them. But in order to do that, we need to educate ourselves first. When it comes to dressing ourselves, well we’ve got that part down (I hope) but dressing our kids is a different story. It can also be hard to explain to a child why wearing clothing made from polyester is bad. But we want to breed better Little Green Warriors so we went back to school with The Extra Smile (a too-cool-for-school ethical kids brand based right here in Asia) to learn about why it’s important to dress kids consciously, what language to use when talking to our kids about the lifecycle of their clothes and a couple of pieces that are too cute to pass up. We caught up with the brand’s founder Samantha Thouret on a sunny day in Bangkok where she gave us a schooling on dressing your kids more consciously. We also snapped a few super cute pictures along the way. This is her advice to you…
1. Choose clothing that is made with natural or non-toxic dyes
“Parents are always concerned about what food their kids are eating or in which friends circle their kids live. That’s a fact, and that is fine! But how come they are not that concerned when it comes to what they wear? These are the things that parents should be concerned about.”
The Extra Smile has one piece of advice for parents — look closely at the labels on your kid’s clothing and you’ll get all the information you need. If a label is short in knowledge, it might be because something isn’t right about the way it was produced. It could be that chemical was used, the working conditions were bad, or it was produced in an unsafe environment.
Most importantly, parents need to look for what kind of dye was used in the production of clothing. If a garment was made with toxic dyes, there is a high chance of being absorbed by your child’s skin and end up inside them. That’s especially true if you have sensitive skins. Yuk!
All the clothes at The Extra Smile are made with non-toxic dyes or plant-based dyes. We especially like the Emory Tunique, which is unisex and perfect for any time of year in Asia.
2. Opt for a look made of recycled materials
“Fashion is the second most polluting industry, so we like remind daddy or mummy that every time they wash clothes made of polyester (of which 240 million tons are produced each year), microplastics are released and end up in the ocean. If you need a message to relay to your little ones about why polyester is bad, remind them that the fish live in the ocean. Tell them: When you wear polyester, you eventually finish by eating what you wear! Yuk!.”
To protect our planet, and protect its smaller inhabitants, there are many things we can do. One of them is to avoid polyester. But if you already have polyester clothes in your wardrobe, use a guppyfriend bag when washing them.
The Extra Smile tries to eschew using polyester as much as possible. While it’s sometimes hard to find an alternative, it is possible! Check out their Recycle is Magic t-shirt — it’s made of recycled plastic, which is better for the environment.
3. Find clothing made from innovative fibres
“There are so many options when choosing the next item of clothing you buy, so choose well. Or even recycle or upcycle your old and used clothes. As often as you can, try to avoid polyester and non-organic fabrics. You can do that by looking at the label and doing some reading into making sure that the workers are well treated and that the dyes are non-toxic. These days, you can even choose from an abundance of innovative natural fibres.”
The Extra Smile has just begun working with milk fibre, which is an excellent alternative to synthetic fibres by using existing raw materials — in this case, it’s cow’s milk. Can you believe it? People are now making clothes from cow milk. If you are curious to know more about milk fibre, you can do a little reading here.
In February, The Extra Smile will release their first item made from milk fibre — a dress.
4. Ensure there are no children involved in the production of your child’s clothing
“Ask your child what they think the definition of childhood is. They will almost certainly answer ‘fun times, school, homework, friends, vacations and freedom’. They will almost certainly not answer with ‘work, and get paid (very poorly) for it’. It is essential that you make sure that the production of your clothes does not involve any child labour. Sure, it means a little exploring and research on the brand, but it’s worth it, right? Every kid in the world has the right to a proper childhood.”
The Extra Smile makes sure that the legal age (above 18-year-old) is observed at the two workshops that produce their clothes — Fairsew and PSE. They audited both facilities multiple times in the last two years and asked for the ID of every single worker.
Curious to know who made their clothes? The Extra Smile are hugely transparent. Find the rundown here.
5. Follow Vivienne Westwood’s quote: “buy less, choose better, make it last”
As a brand, it can seem strange to advise you to buy less, but not every business is based on profit and The Extra Smile is one of these. We believe that fashion can change and are part of the #fashionrevolution.”
The Extra Smile make clothes that are meant to last. Their designs are timeless and multi-seasonal so your child can wear it as long as possible. They also encourage your little warriors to upcycle their favourite clothes and wear their friends/siblings designs.
At the same time, let your kids know that Singapore generated 7.67 million tonnes of waste. Since they will probably not understand how much that is, tell them it’s enough to fill 3,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Their advice? Choose sustainable brands, buy less fast fashion, be creative with your wardrobe and save the planet. And to do that, we recommend the lovely the Ivy dress for girls and the Tiago short for boys.
We’d also like to take a minute and congratulate 7-year-old Sanika, who participated in a contest at the last Conscious Festival in Singapore. She was one of 30 children under 13 who drew a beautiful message to the world that showed their concern about our planet. She will soon see her drawing on a t-shirt made of organic cotton and natural dyes by The Extra Smile.