With the average baby going through approximately 4,000 nappies before they’re potty trained and each nappy taking more than 300 years to break down, it’s easy to feel like feeding, watering and clothing your offspring finds you on a slippery slope to landfill bedlam.
With the mounting concern that we’re destroying our planet for future generations, and with thousands of microscopic fibres entering rivers and oceans with just one single clothes wash, now more than ever is the time for households to up their green status – so, to kick things off we’re looking at kids’ wardrobes.
According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) more than 300,500 tonnes of clothing end up in UK landfills every year. This needs to reduce massively and a good place for parents to start is by buying clothes that are designed to last.
Of course, sustainability encompasses many things; from reducing the environmental impact of production processes, cutting out harmful chemicals, and ensuring ethical guidelines are in place when it comes to safe working practices in factories, and workers getting paid fairly to do so. But when it comes to dressing kids, sustainability means quality too.
Pieces need to be long-lasting, durable, wash well and have the potential to be passed on to future siblings, so it’s important for parents to buy with longevity in mind.
To inspire your next purchase to be that little bit greener, we’ve picked out the best sustainable brands, highlighting our favourite pieces which have all been given the seal of approval by our mini testers.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Muddy Puddles sunsafe rash vest and bottom set
In the fight to protect the oceans with sustainable fashion, this year British children’s brand Muddy Puddles launched UV protective swimwear and it’s made a huge splash with us. Made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, the Save our Oceans collection is the perfect beach wardrobe for this summer’s keen mini-surfers, rock-poolers and sand-castle builders, taking design inspiration from the world beneath the waves, with mammal prints, vibrant colours and thought-provoking slogans.
IndyBest pick: Muddy Puddles sunsafe rash vest & bottom set
We tested the surf suit, swim shorts and rash vest and bottom set and they were all a hit. The built in UPF 50+ means they can play safely, and we loved the high neck and full-length sleeves for fuller sun protection, while the “recycle to save me” slogan incorporated in the fun whale design is eye-catching. With prices starting from £15 the collection won’t cost you a fortune either.
Buy now £25.20, Muddy Puddles
Newbie kids floral print dress
Swedish children’s fashion brand Newbie makes dressing your children consciously, yet stylishly, wonderfully simple – and doesn’t break the bank either. Using sustainable solutions in every method of production; each gorgeous piece is made from only 100 per cent organic cotton, recycled materials wherever possible and absolutely no harmful chemicals. Designed to be hand-me-downs that will last for several generations, its clothes are easy wearing, durable and have proven they can be washed, and washed again (at 30C, of course).
IndyBest pick: Newbie kids floral print dress
If you’ve got a special occasion, Newbie’s timeless, sustainable and affordable designs are a win win. The limited-edition spring range has some lovely options for matching, and we couldn’t resist matching little cousins (aged two and four) in the lovely floral print dress. Made from Tencel – a wood cellulose from sustainably cultivated forest – it’s manufactured in a closed system that allows for less water and chemicals. The fibre is 100 per cent biodegradable, too.
Buy now £30.00, Newbie
Kit and Kin bear cardigan
First known for its natural and sustainable skincare products – from eco nappy subscriptions made using chlorine-free fluff pulp to hypoallergenic baby moisturisers – so when the brand launched its babywear line, it could only follow the businesses’ conscious ethos, and we’re very impressed. The 100 per cent organic cotton babywear range is not only completely adorable, it’s also helping to conserve rainforests and fund healthcare clinics women in Sierra Santa Cruz, in partnership with the World Land Trust– a British charity dedicate to the conservation, protection and sustainable management of natural biosystems and biodiversity.
IndyBest pick: Kit & Kin bear cardigan
Kit & Kin has two super cute cardigans; a bear and a bunny. Soft to the touch, and chunky enough to keep baby cosy, the two designs are unisex and made to last so perfect to pass down. The easy-to-fasten wooden style buttons make for easy nappy changing and the garment has been washed again and again. Our only gripe? Bigger sizes please! The cardigans currently go up to 18-24 months, but we would love to see these in larger sizes.
Buy now £34.99, Kit & Kin
Mori T-shirt and shorts set
We really urge parents to discover the softness of Mori – it has to be touched to be believed. Mori offers a rounded approached to sustainability; using trusted factories in Turkey with fair working conditions, safe to the planet materials, minimised packaging, recycling clothes to give to the Kindness Project, while producing quality products to be passed on to future generations. Predominantly known for its baby essentials, the brand now reaches wider with clothing going up to six years. Comfort is order of the day, from stretchy leggings and joggers, to pullover dresses.
IndyBest pick: Mori T-shirt and shorts set
Kids just want to be comfortable and free, and that’s exactly what this set offers. Available in pink and green, from three months up to six years, kids can really play all day in this moisture-wicking and breathable set. Easy to wear and to put on and take off, made from their signature organic cotton and bamboo blend fabric, we’ve started using them as pyjamas as they are just so comfy.
Buy now £29.50, Mori
From Babies with Love love organic baby gift set
The whole ethos of From Babies with Love is built on helping; from aiding disadvantaged children, to protecting the planet we live on. Not just a fraction but all profits go around the world to help abandoned children. The perfect brand for new baby gifts, with every gift you buy goes beyond the little person it’s intended for, as your custom provides the profit that goes to orphaned and abandoned children globally. All products are lovingly made with certified organic cotton yarn, and in safe working factories in Turkey and China.
IndyBest pick: From Babies with Love love organic baby gift set
It’s hard not to coo over the love collection; made in collaboration with artist In No Particular Order. The set comprises of a babygrow, knot hat, bandana bib and swaddle all in the softest organic cotton. Not only a useful and stylish unisex gift, but a present that in turn helps others too – and isn’t that what parenting is all about?
Buy now £49.90, From Babies with Love
Pop My Way cardigan
New creative clothing brand Pop My Way minimises the stressful task of getting your little one dressed. With a selection of interchangeable accessories that are designed to simply “pop” onto a babygrow, cardigan or bottom using the built-in poppers. We love that this gives more wearing opportunities for one piece of clothing. Fully GOTS certified, the brand uses the finest pima cotton which is grown naturally in Peru and the durability ensures it can be handed down for years to come.
IndyBest pick: Pop My Way cardigan
This cardigan is one of the softest we tested. We love the flexibility of it, simply dress up with a “pop” on accessory – our favourite has to be the matching bow tie collar (£12) – and ta-dah your baby is ready for any occasion.
Buy now £26.00, Pop My Way
Petit Nord scallop velcro sandal
Handmade in Portugal in small family workshops, Petit Nord’s kids’ shoes are crafted using high quality eco materials and methods minimising harmful chemicals. Ethical production includes reusing and upcycling materials; exclusively using vegetable tanned leather that is 100 per cent chrome-free and fully biodegradable. Its classic Scandinavian designs means you won’t need to worry about the odd scuff or mark that’ll simply add to the charm, while the durability means they’re built to last.
IndyBest pick: Petit Nord scallop velcro sandal
With a flexible sole made from 100 per cent recycled eco-friendly rubber and eco leathers, these sandals are made for fun in the sun. We particularly love the easy-to-wear velcro strap.
Buy now £53.00, Petit Nord
Toastie ochre puffer jacket
British outerwear brand Toastie sure knows a thing or two about producing stylish coverings come rain or shine. Born to protect kids from the elements while keeping them cool and comfy, as a business it’s also here to do its bit for the planet. Using 100 per cent recycled PET plastic bottles for the shell of its rainwear, which is hard to believe considering how soft it is to the touch, it has also committed one per cent of all revenue towards environmental projects, in collaboration with global movement 1% For The Planet.
IndyBest pick: Toastie ochre puffer jacket
Choosing the right coat is no easy feat, but we’ve found the one with Toastie’s pack-a-way puffer. Light, super soft, and, well, very puffy… it's made with responsibly sourced down with full traceability. The clever thermo-regulating qualities makes this a fabulous year-rounder. At almost £75 we can’t deny that it’s an investment; however, our four-year-old tester has a five to six-year coat, so we’re confident she’ll get the most out of it.
Buy now £74.99, Toastie
Polarn O.Pyret Breton stripe kids top
Sweden’s leading childrenswear brand Polarn O.Pyret aims for each and every garment it makes to last at least three children. From using recycled polyamide from old fishing nets and recycled plastic bottles in its polyester, you’ll find the brand going above and beyond with certifications and supporting initiatives. As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability the brand has introduced a free repairs service to fix zips and to replace broken poppers on outerwear garments, regardless of when they were purchased!
IndyBest pick: Polarn O.Pyret Breton stripe kids top
Breton stripes are a timeless classic, and this long-sleeved T-shirt is made using pure GOTS organic cotton, so it’ll stand the test of time too. Gentle on the skin and kinder to the planet, GOTS certified organic cotton ensures there’s minimum impact on the soil and better conditions for farmers. The sizing is generous to last that bit longer too – an all year round essential
Buy now £28.00, Polarn O.Pyret
The Bonniemob Miami kids comfy shorts
Brighton-based baby and childrenswear brand The Bonniemob has been on the scene for 15 years and for good reason. The brand’s motto is “buy once, buy well, pass it on” with a commitment to choosing organic materials and keeping things sustainable, while injecting plenty of fun and colours in its designs. You’ll find no harmful chemicals, plenty of organic cotton and cashmere, and by using “fully-fashioned” machines to make knitwear, which reduces waste as it only knits the shape of the garment so there are no bits of excess fabric thrown away.
IndyBest pick: The Bonniemob Miami kids comfy shorts
These may look like your usual denim shorts to the naked eye… but you’d be fooled if you thought they were. The harsh chemicals and the wastewater created in normal denim production is seriously harming our planet, so in a bid to avoid this The Bonniemob is the first brand to use “zero d” printing – an eco-printing technique that looks like denim – in the kids’ market. The worn denim effect is printed on top of the fabric, which is not only better for the planet, it’s also softer and safer on your little one’s skin allowing them to play in comfort all day long.
Buy now £30.00, The Bonniemob
Smalls Merino the best shorts
Joining the dots carefully from farm to fashion is Smalls. Using only 100 per cent certified traceable, naturally sustainable New Zealand merino, which is spun in Italy, and lovingly made in Portugal. Every year a merino sheep produces a new fleece, making it a completely renewable fibre source. Merino wool is also known for its superpowers keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer – meaning you can wear it all year round, it’s also proven to have benefits for eczema-prone skin in children. Smalls works with ZQ Merino (the world’s leading ethical wool brand) approved farms to make sure its wool is held to the highest standards of farming, land management and animal welfare.
IndyBest pick: Smalls Merino the best shortsâ
These super comfy shorts wick moisture away from the skin, acting as a second skin. The UV+ rating and self-regulating properties has made them the perfect pull-on shorts for a day playing at the beach.
Buy now £22.25, Smalls Merino
The verdict: Sustainable kids' clothing brands
You can’t deny the efforts that brands are going to, to make its businesses more sustainable, and teaching this to our kids is paramount. Muddy Puddles save our oceans collection really impressed us – particularly the sunsafe rash vest and bottom set – in terms of quality, fabrics, eco messaging and still keeping costs affordable. We also love the green thinking of The Bonniemob and has to be applauded for introducing zero d printing to the kids’ market, and we were impressed with the kids denim-look shorts.