Buying new clothes and toys for babies and toddlers can be slightly overwhelming, even if you subtract all the shiny paints and talking electronic gadgets that most green parents avoid. Sure, those tiny tutus look adorable, but fast-growing kids seem to burst out them within days, and the toy that they were pining for on Monday is already lost in the toy chest by the weekend. While buying secondhand or doing clothing swaps are a great way to expand your kids’ wardrobes and toy collections, there are some great green companies to consider when buying new. Shelling out all that dough for new gear feels a little better when you know that the company is committed to giving back. Here are seven companies whose missions include benefiting a charity, striving for the highest in ethical and sustainable standards in production, and building communities, both here and across the globe.
Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS with a simple, brilliant idea: for every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates another pair to children who need them in countries such as Argentina, Cambodia, and South Africa. And these aren’t just any old pair – TOMS sends new shoes that have been specially designed to take into consideration the recipient children’s environment and terrain. So far over one million kids around the world have received free kicks. Whether your tot sports a pair in basic canvas or decorated with butterflies or sparkles, you can feel great that when you buy a pair of TOMS, someone else’s tender tootsies are being protected too. Jealous parents, fear not: TOMS has an even more extensive selection for adults.
Here at Inhaibtots, we are huge Plan Toys fans. And across the board Plan Toys has been prized for its commitment to using eco-friendly toy materials such as natural rubberwood and water-based, non-toxic dyes. It doesn’t hurt that the resulting toys (including instruments, kitchen playsets, and baby blocks) are attractive enough to catch kids’ attention, yet simple enough to allow their creativity to blossom when playing with them. The company adheres to strict safety standards for its workers and has incorporated solar energy and bio-fuels into its production process. More recently, the company’s commitment to the environment has expanded into the greater Thai community in which it operates: opening a Children’s Museum, participating in beach clean-ups and tree plantings (over 43,000 trees planted during a five year period), and designing innovative toys that focus on the developmental abilities of children with special needs.
GreenEdge Kids is a model among online green boutiques, with highlights including eco-friendly office practices such as shipping and packing with reused materials, becoming carbon neutral, and donating $1 from every purchase of GreenEdge Kids brand items to the Arbor Day Foundation (which plants a tree for every dollar donated). Their innovative website serves as an eco-kids clothing clearinghouse, allowing you to peruse 40 other brands and even to shop by conscience, picking whatever search terms mean the most to you. Their own GreenEdge Kids brand includes basics such as t-shirts and hats, and their newer GreenEdge Denim line features higher-end jeans for boys and girls in organic cotton.
gDiapers was a no-brainer example of environmental corporate giving since gDiapers was founded to create less landfill waste and wean parents off the idea of conventional disposable diapers. But their cloth diapers aren’t all that’s green, the company is green and giving in many more ways besides their plastic-free, cotton diapers, hemp and cotton gCloths, and biodegradable refills. gDiapers employees benefit from onsite childcare, flexible work times and job sharing, and weekly yoga classes, all in their retrofitted, eco-friendly Portland office. But gDiapers benefits go beyond their lucky employees: A portion of the proceeds from gDiapers sales goes to Healthy Child Healthy World, a nonprofit that educates the public on how to create the healthiest environment for families. Among the other non-profits that gDiapers donates diapers or funds to are the Nepal Children’s Organization and K.I.D.S (kids in distressed situations), a global charity that provides help to children and families in poverty and following major disasters.
A-list spas and hotels have included the Coyuchi line of bedding and textiles for 20 years, but it’s their whimsical collection of organic cotton baby jumpers, hooded towels, and crib collections featuring hand-embroidered animals that caught our eye. Coyuchi kept our attention with their commitment to fair-trade practices, which are closely monitored by in-country auditors. In India, where their organic cotton is grown, Coyuchi has partnered with a cooperative of over 6,000 family-owned farms to help ensure a stable and prosperous local economy. Additionally, the company uses only low-impact, fiber-reactive dyes on their goods, which means baby can sleep, eat, and bathe in Coyuchi without you worrying about what’s up against her skin.
Created in the spirit of celebrating cultures around the world, Tea was born in 2002. Each collection derives its inspiration from a different destination: currently they’re featuring Spain, and past collections have included Japan and Brazil. The clothes themselves are fun, spunky, and like a mini art history lesson: these wearable pieces of art teach kids about some of the other colors, patterns, and styles favored by children around the world. With such a beautiful appreciation for children around the globe, it makes sense that Tea has teamed up with The Global Fund for Children for online events during which a portion of all sales benefit The Global Fund for Children and the specially designed Little Citizens line, with 100% of the proceeds from those sales benefiting the organization. In its first year, the collaboration yielded more than $30,000 in donations. Tea has also donated time or clothes to other organizations including CarbonFund.org and March of Dimes. Now, if we could only get them to switch over to organic cotton!
Adorable and brightly colored, speeses’s baby and toddler clothes are made from 100% skal-certified organic cotton and are treated with low-impact and herbal dyes. In addition to the tees, kimono onesies, and dresses that have made speeses a green favorite, they also sell organic cotton hankies, booties, burp clothes, and even the speesees “friend,” a sweet stuffed lovey filled with lentils and calming lavender. The benefits of buying speesees extend all the way around the world to India, where the clothes are manufactured in a small village and where the factory grounds include an organic garden. Money generated by the factory in India has been instrumental in purchasing school supplies for children in the local community, building a playground for the local orphanage, and buying a water filter for the nearby school. Speeses gives back in another way through the respeeses program: When kids outgrow their speesees gear, send it back and receive a discount on future purchases. Hundreds of gently worn children’s clothing items have made their way to deserving homes including Haiti and homeless shelters in San Francisco.