How to educate your kids about ethical fashion?
Coming second after the oil industry, the fashion and clothing industry is a huge global polluter. Its carbon footprint is gigantic but it’s also very hard to measure due to the fact that each garment needs to go through a variety of treatments and processes that often include toxic dyes and pesticides. There’s also harvesting, manufacturing, and transport that need to be taken into account as well as the unhealthy working conditions of many workers in developing countries.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that there’s a large amount of waste created when clothing is discarded and thrown out after it’s been worn long enough or has gone out of fashion. This is why it’s necessary to emphasize the importance of ethical fashion that uses a sustainable model and insist on educating children about the problems the fashion industry creates. This will give future generations the opportunity to make better choices as they grow up and create a world of more socially and environmentally responsible shoppers.
The best way to deliver information to children is in stories which is why old folks’ tales and fairy tales have morals woven in. So, to bring the idea of ethical fashion to kids, try telling them a story. You can use pictures from the cotton fields in the U.S. and transport ships that use huge containers to ship them to China. Talk about dye workers in China and ask your kids how those workers make different colors. Let them make their own conclusions.
Continue explaining to your kids that dyed fabric is then sent by trucks to Bangladesh to be cut and sewn until the final product is made, sent to shops, sold and delivered into their very own hands. Use your kids’ favorite T-shirt brand and draw together the whole process of its production to delivery or make a PowerPoint presentation together. In the end, if your kid can retell the whole story using the pictures, they will surely remember it.
It’s tremendously important to grasp the whole picture of the entire process, so contemporary curriculums in this field, as this Master’s Degree in Fashion Design and Business in Milan, for instance, offer their students a fully-rounded knowledge and vision of the fashion industry from manufacturing to analyzing consumer and macro business trends to discussing the tiny details of aesthetics.
When you tell the story to your children, use an angle that resonates with them personally. For instance, if they love animals, talk about cruelty-free fashion that bans animal testing. Also, children are natural empaths and will relate to the issues of child labor in factories and sweatshops. Explain in simple language the working conditions and social background of those child workers and ask your kids how they feel about that and whether they think it’s fair.
Explain the concept of supply and demand in the sense that if people stopped buying those clothing brands, those sweatshops would be forced out of business. Search online for documentaries on the matter, watch them together as a family and discuss the feeling and ideas afterward.
Impact of consumerism
Your kids also need to understand the concepts of consumerism and materialism in society. Research shows that shopping is addictive and children need to understand the power of advertising and marketing that leads people to buy more and more products they don’t really need.
Help your kids understand the importance of resisting these influences and thinking for themselves rather than just following what everyone else is doing. Do some research and find out which fashion brands follow ethical principles and are committed to sustainability and use them as examples in your stories.
Your lesson can be quite a fun family game about ethical fashion using labels. Teach your kids how to read them to find out where their clothes were made and out of what material. Make it a project for them to pick a couple of their favorite garments from their wardrobe and collect data. They can then make a bar graph or a pie chart displaying their findings which can then be put up on the wall. This will give your kids a clearer picture of the great distances clothing had traveled to end up in their possession. Such awareness and understanding are essential in comprehending and supporting ethical fashion.
Give your kids an assignment to figure out what small changes they can start making towards supporting ethical fashion. Help them understand that it’s a global problem but everyone can make their meaningful contribution regardless of how small it may be. Teach them that many small changes over a longer period amount to something bigger.
Suggest to them to come up with ways of reducing their waste, to shop locally and buy items produced in their homeland and for older kids, direct them to websites of ethical fashion organizations and social platforms that promote campaigns for sustainable production. Getting the young involved is a great way to instill lifelong values.
Ethical fashion as the part of sustainable living is an important topic today and should be made a part of an ongoing conversation with your kids as they grow, develop and learn the values that can build a better world.
If one thing is true about Lillian Connors, her mind is utterly curious. That’s why she can’t resist the urge to embark on a myriad of green living/home improvement projects and spread the word about them. She cherishes the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on. You can check her out LinkedIn.