May 26, 2017 | By WGSN Insider
Dec 09, 2016
By Erin Rechner
As we look forward to the 2017 trade show season, there is a new show that caught my eye called the Eco Baby Expo being held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 11, 2017. This is the perfect time for something along these lines as sustainability becomes essential to design into 2017 and beyond. The world of apparel is the second largest contributor to pollution in the world, second only to oil manufacturers. A lot of brands already use cotton in their lines which sounds like a positive step, but if you dig deeper, you will find that cotton is one of the worst offenders. Organic cotton is used already in many babywear brands but it only accounts for a few percent of the actual cotton grown worldwide. It is also treated with chemicals and dyes after spun into fabric, so with that said, there is still a huge carbon footprint on certain brands that are calling themselves “organic.”
I had a chance to chat with Heather Duncan, the Co-founder of the upcoming Eco Baby Expo to find out more about her brand new style of trade show- the ‘all-natural, organic, green baby expo’. It is the first of its kind and she plans to expand into two more cities, so keep a look out for that!
Check out our interview below:
Why is sustainability important in kidswear?
Sustainability is important in everything we do. Even small decisions make big impacts. It is important that we do our best to put our money into responsible and sustainable businesses because “change goes where money flows” when it comes to consumer products. Babies and kids grow at such a fast rate and we are constantly buying new clothes. Nearly 25% of the world’s insecticide use comes from non-organic commercial cotton farming as well as nearly 10% of the world’s pesticides. These chemicals are not only in our clothing but end up in our water and soil causing a huge negative impact on the quality and safety of our natural resources. Also, the children’s clothing that is made from synthetic fibers are linked to numerous and serious health and behavioural issues in children. Babies and children are the most vulnerable to health risks caused by environmental factors. The EPA has recognised that some of the pesticides used in cotton production are KNOWN human carcinogens.
How is this new, as baby brands have been using organic cotton for years now?
It’s definitely not new, but it is becoming more mainstream because consumers are becoming increasingly more aware of the effects their choices have on themselves and the environment. With all of the world’s problems, some issues tend to get put on the “back burner” or get overshadowed by the rest until we can’t ignore them any longer. Cotton happens to be one of those that many consumers were not and still aren’t aware of its devastating effects until recently. “The Better Cotton Initiative” is starting to make sustainable cotton farming more mainstream by creating solutions to reverse the path of the unsustainable practices most use. Organic clothing is still a much more sustainable option but at least they are making strides to implement change on a more global and mainstream level by making small changes in conventional farming methods that will have a positive impact.
Is it just a trend of the moment or something you see continuing into the formidable future and why?
It has to continue because it’s just not sustainable to continue down the path we have been headed. Soon we won’t have a choice if we don’t change on our own. Even if you set aside the environmental and health effects; you can’t deny the quality of the organic clothes compared to others. The softness and richness of the organic fabric makes it stand out and have a noticeably more luxurious feel and look and often times no more expensive than non-organic options.
Why did you decide to launch Eco Baby Expo now?
Before and after the birth of my son I knew I wanted to educate myself as much as possible on what the best and healthiest options were through every aspect of raising him. I was immediately overwhelmed with navigating through the immense amount of information I would need to sort through to find the answers I was looking for.
For every article, book or even fact sheet that claimed one thing there was another that either completely disproved, contradicted or had just as many risks as the other. I began to realise that it seemed there are risks on either side in nearly every decision that we make for our children and it’s all about educating yourself as much as possible so that you can take the facts and determine what decision is best for you and your family. For me, that was making some major changes and becoming more mindful.
I went to numerous Baby expos that all seemed to be very generalised and not geared towards more natural minded parenting so I decided to create my own and I partnered up with another like-minded mom to start the process.
‘This expo is not just for the “crunchy moms and dads”. It’s for anyone who wants to learn more about how they can make small changes to make a big impact on both the environment and their family’s health.’
My son is now two and I’m still learning and taking steps to get to the place I want to be as a parent but the point is, when we know better we try to do better. Eco Baby Expo is not your average baby expo. It’s a movement that is inclusive of all parenting styles; free of judgment and a place where we can learn from each other different ways we can incorporate being “the change we want to see in the world” one small decision at a time.
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