Millennials are changing demand in every market.
And we love that.
One of the trends we’re most interested in following is BIFL, or “Buy it for Life.” Forbes even did a piece it.
BIFL taps into the social trend of minimalism and the environmental trends of conservatism and sustainability. It represents awareness as a crucial factor in future markets.
Essentially, more consumers today want to purchase an item once, want to purchase fewer items in total, and want those items to be ethically and sustainably created. And we couldn’t be more happy about this.
But, there are some serious obstacles in the way.
For years, one of the sore spots of the global textile market has been the advent of fast fashion. In decades past, consumers sought clothing purchases during the 4 major seasons. More recently, the fashion industry has introduced the concept of perpetual trends taking that 4 season rhythm into a limitless and brutal never-ending marketing battle. Quite literally, by the time one outfit arrives from amazon it could be outdated.
This insane pace has created a few major problems. Let's start from the ground up…literally, the ground.
Most cotton used today is not organic. We’re not huge fans of this. (Hence, a store filled with organic clothing.)
But why? Are we those silly vapid vegans who can’t stand to see animals, and now cotton plants suffer?
Actually, it’s more about humans.
Most cotton, all over the world, is covered in pesticides. The story of how this phenomenon became mainstream deserves its own blogpost, but for now the fact remains that most of the cotton produced has been influenced in one way or the other by some form of toxic weed controlling agent.
Many people consider this when they eat their veggies, but we forget that most of our clothes once too were plants. So here’s the question, why do we care that our clothes are made mainly of nonorganic material?
First, the farmers that produce this cotton are exposed to insanely high levels of toxicity for way too long. According to the International Labour Organization, farmers are twice as likely to die from their occupation than workers in any other sector. And, one of the leading causes of this death is to be “poisoned by pesticides and other agro-chemicals.”
So when the demand for clothes skyrockets, the demand for larger crop-yields ensues. To maintain these fields at the needed rate and size, tons of pesticides must be applied. The pesticides quite literally poison the earth and even effect groundwater and future crop yields. For example, simply stopping the application of pesticides does not make a field organic, it takes years for the land to heal.
And who is effected? The farmers who are exposed to these chemicals daily.
To make matters worse, in third world countries the chemicals are literally applied by hand. In developed nations they are applied by machines, though from personal experience from dealing with farmers’ insurance, the mortality and cancer rates don’t seem much better.
(There’s also a scary rate of farmer suicides in developing countries by deliberately ingesting pesticides. This social factor alone should indicate to us the conditions that these farmers are facing.)
Once the nonorganic cotton leaves the fields it usually goes to textile factories, all over the world, who use about 200 tons of water per ton of textile in the conversion and creation process. In many countries, this 200 tons of chemically polluted water is then washed back into the public water supply.
And of course, there are hundreds of thousands of factory workers whose livelihood is to handle this toxic-laden material and water. But this is before they apply the various dyes to the clothing—the most common of which has direct links to cancer. Sustained exposure to azo dye is most commonly linked to a form of cancer in the digestion system.
These textiles are then sent to consumers who wear them for a season. During that time, however long or short, the consumer’s skin is exposed to the aforementioned toxins, and when they wash their clothes they introduce them into their local ecosystems.
When the consumer is finished with the textile item, it ends up in a local land-fill, or in a terrible irony back in one of the countries it was originally produced in the form of charitable donations.
However, since the advent of fast fashion, the unmanageable surplus of textile items has caused an unsustainable charitable donation cycle. What this means, is that the same low wage factory workers and farmers who originally produced these goods, must then bury them back in their landfills effecting their ecosystems, ground water, and soil even more.
All this so a consumer, somewhere else in the world, could have a new shirt for a short time, before sending it back to be buried.
Thus, we love organic, we love Buy It For Life, and we do our best to avoid fast fashion trends.
But then, like some other millennials, we started having babies. And no fault of their own, they create their own sort of fast fashion cycle. After all, my daughter outgrows her clothes every few weeks, and even when she matures will always need a new size at least every year until she’s about 20.
Ah, what to do!
And at this crossroads is where our passion for organic baby clothes was birthed. First, we recognized the devastation to the people and the earth along the supply chain. Second, we recognized long term exposure to harsh chemicals to our daughter as a less than optimal situation to say the least.
Our solution was twofold.
First, we were lucky to have a relative with 8, going on 9 children. And, she has many of their old clothes. It was a start, they might not be organic, but we won’t participate in the insane demand that keeps the awful supply train going.
Second, when we did need new clothes, we did our best to go organic. Because this sort of supply chain we did want to influence. We wanted to help the demand for organic textiles. Because this means less exposure to awful toxins along the way for thousands, maybe millions of people.
But, being good millennials, we’re also super thrifty. Did I mention Organic clothes—especially baby clothes—are super expensive? And, unfortunately I can’t quite make the BIFL promise for a toddler who won’t be able to wear the shirt in a few weeks.
And thus, BabeNatural was born. Our first major step toward long-term influence in the textile market.
Affordable. Organic. Conscious.
Now I have to be honest, our product line and store as we have it now is not our best. But, we had to start somewhere. So we broke our goal down into essentially three milestones:
We found wholesalers online who sell organic products right next to their traditional items. This was a start! This was a way into the industry. And, I can’t share it yet, but we have bomb campaigns we’re working on for the next two milestones, more to come on that soon!!
But for now, our focus is making organics the consumer’s material of choice. And what better industry to begin than baby clothes. The fast consumption rate is built into the market, so instead of trying to make it BIFL, we’re wanting to leverage it to effect the market.
Can you imagine if all parents only chose organic clothes for their newborns? We could literally save thousands of lives and help protect the earth. AND we’d be starting with the most vulnerable in our societies who don’t deserve to pay for our poor choices.
So for now, we’ll leave you to soak in all you’ve just learned.
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Cannot wait to hear your feedback, and I’m hopeful change is right around the corner.