The label lowdown... dotte cheat sheet
First things first, check out our key to match up what properties are in their clothes:
Now for the fabrics:
Although a natural fibre, cotton has a bad rep for its sustainable production, and rightly so! To name but a few toxic traits, creating new cotton uses a large amount of water, it's often sprayed with pesticides to grow, and involves an intensive bleaching process to give us that crisp white cotton tee that’s the staple of our wardrobes. That's right... cotton isn’t naturally white!
When it comes to shopping secondhand however, the clothes are already on the earth so you’re not directly contributing to any of the production nasties involved in making anything new. Therefore, if you're shopping preloved for your wee one, we’d totally recommend cotton! It's comfy to wear, strong and sturdy. Better still, 100% cotton is quick to biodegrade, and easily recyclable! However, it's good to bear in mind, cotton is as an absorbent fabric and (with messy kids!) it does need to be washed on the reg' so be cautious of potential shrinkage. But, as cotton is a natural fibre, no microplastics are released in the wash cycle no matter how many times it makes it into the drum, hurrah!
A low-cost synthetic fibre made by humans, secondhand polyester is certainly affordable, but the fibres longevity is questionable. Made from plastic, Polyester tends to lose quality over washes and pill (those little bobbles our jumpers and socks get riddled with) and worse still, when we wash synthetic fibres microplastics are released into our washing machines, passing through waste water filtration systems and into our rivers and oceans. Plus, polyester also takes up to 200 years to biodegrade! No bueno. By investing that little bit more in better quality materials over polyester, you're buying clothes that last for longer and have the best chance of survival for resale on dotte. Win for the planet, win for you!
Renewable, biodegradable, recyclable... wool is a great option when buying secondhand. Wooly fabric has a natural stain resistant quality to it, so unless your little one is jumping in puddles, you can likely wipe down a stain rather than putting it in the washing pile! Plus, you'd be mad to wash wool at anything but cold, so it's extra efficient when it does come time to give it a rinse. 100% wool is less common in kidswear, so be aware of synthetic blending (i.e. 30% wool, 70% polyester), as this puts the biodegradability and recyclability of the garment into trouble.
If buying wool "new" (straight from a shop!), please be aware of how to wool is farmed. Common in wool farming is mulesing, a cruel and painful way of removing a sheep’s skin infested with flies, without any pain relief or anaesthetic. There are more humane ways of preventing this, so if buying new, look for sheep that are ‘non-mulesed’.