We started the process some time ago. The school in Bridgend have a very active eco committee run by pupils. They decided that they wanted to include ethical school uniform in their approach to sustainability and fairness.
The school is being rebuilt and they decided upon a new colour and a new style for their summer uniform and “re-launch” of the school. We are at the stage where they have been pleased with the final samples are we are ready to go into production. Purple with grey trim on the collar and cuffs, also the option of grey polo shirts with purple trim. Even if we do say so oursleves they really do look smart.
They will soon go into production ready for spring and summer next year. The best news? They are made with Fairtrade certifed cotton from our cotton roots range.
This is the first secondary school customer we have who have chosen the Fairtrade cotton option. We have lots of primary schools who have fairtrade uniform. So I am really pleased that the whole order is exciting………Fairtrade, bespoke, made especially for them, and that they are from my homeland South Wales.
If you know of a school considering Fairtrade or Fair Trade school uniform please put them in touch with us. They can ask for me, Susan, and we will work with them from design concept, sampling, right throught to the final product.
Redhill Primary School in Telford was one of our first customers to order Fair trade certified school t shirts. The print was designed by a pupil and each school “house” is printed in a different design.
Here, Bowen Liu is jumping for joy wearing his new t shirts – “Redhill plays Fair”
The news is that we have received our stock of childrens primary school Fairtrade polo shirts. We now have white, red, sky blue and yellow. Better still we have four new schools who have chosen the Fairtrade route for their school uniform options.
I have found that schools often investigate Fairtrade school uniform when a comitted parent gets involved. It seems that we are at the same stage that coffee and bananas were fifteen years or so ago. These comitted people really do make an enormous impact. Bit by bit things happen.
Our white Fairtrade school polo shirts have been the biggest success along with the white Fairtrade school t shirts. While we are still taking orders for the coloured options the quantities are less.
At Cotton Roots we are still trying and committing our resources to ensure that schools can have a choice. One secondary school in my homeland Wales is really leading the way. They are having Fairtrade uniform made to order for them. I will give details in my next blog but int the meantime we are delighted to be supplying them 🙂 and I am very pleased and proud that the school is from the beautiful South Wales Valleys.
I visited India to spend sometime with the people who grow the cotton for our Fairtrade polo shirts and T-shirts which we supply to schools for their uniform. It was adventure rights from the word go and was fascinating from the moment the wheels of our plane wheels touched down in the City of Ahmedabad.
The whole trip was fascinating and wonderful however, there were two main highlights. We were talking to spinners at the large Mahima factory when we were suddenly ushered along, being told that the children were going home and that we would miss them. ‘Children? What children?’ I was puzzled as I looked around at the adult filled room. We squeezed into an old car and soon arrived at the colourful Swayan School Academy which was an inspiring experience! I was able to briefly visit each class and meet the children who were from the rural farming cotton growing communities surrounding the school. The school was financially supported by Mahima the spinning company we had just visited who produce solely organic and Fairtrade cotton.
The children themselves were so polite and a little shy with us but they were clearly very happy. It was one of those rare moments that I know I will remember forever. As I left the school I realised that the whole trip to India would have been worth that one special visit. The knowledge that by manufacturing Fairtrade and organic school uniforms we were connecting directly with, and supporting this school made everything seem real and worthwhile.
I squeezed into the car again and was driven along a very bumpy track to a Fairtrade co-operative of cotton farmers. I had no idea what to expect as I had been told that the harvest had already taken place. However, another memorable experience was about to take place.
On arrival two young men drummed us a greeting and as I walked into the village I was surrounded by excited children and smiling adults. The harvest was not over and I was shown around the crop by a group of proud farmers. . They seemed honoured by my visit and interest which was so touching because of course it was me who was so honoured at their kind and excited reception.. Later I sat with the head of the village in the yard, and was presented with an Indian doll carrying Fairtrade cotton which was a very touching moment for me. These people, who in comparison to our Western lifestyle have so little, gave so much to me in time and smiling pride, and it may seem cliché but I was truly moved by the whole experience.
Once back from our trip I was absolutely committed, even more so than before, and it seems to me that we to supply Fairtrade school uniform seems the perfect thing for Cotton Roots to concentrate on. It’s fairer, has a good impact on the environment, and helps these children with an education that all our children in the UK already enjoy.
Well hurrah! They arrived today from Morses in India.
Our new, hot of the press, Fairtrade Polo shirt sizing sets.
In our business before our order is manufactured in bulk Morses sends us a set of garments so that we can check that the sizing is just as we expect it – and today our set of children’s t shirt and children’s polo shirts were delivered. They are perfect! We also received our “lab dips”. These are small swatches (pieces of fabric) dyed to show us that the colour will also be perfect.
Morses has been a real help to help. He is thorough, gives me confidence and is looking after the manufacture of our garments. I met up with Morses when I visited India last year. It really makes a difference to talk face to face.
I visited India to spend some time with the people who grow the cotton for our Fairtrade Polo shirts and T shirts for schools. It started out as an adventure and was fascinating from the moment we touched down in Ahmedabad.
There were two highlights. The first was a surprise. We were talking to spinners at the large Mahima Factory when they hurried us along. We were told to hurry or the children would have already gone home. Puzzled we did indeed hurry. We were whisked away and taken to the Swayan Academy.
We were able to briefly visit each class. The children were predominantly from families who would not normally be able to send their children to school. The pupils were from the rural cotton growing communities and the school was supported by Mahima Purespun. The children were so polite, seemed a little in awe, but clearly happy. It was one of those moments in life that I will remember. As we left the school we both looked at each other and said that the whole trip was worth that one visit. The knowledge that by manufacturing Fairtrade and organic school uniform we were directly in the circle that contributed to this school and their future.
Next we squeezed again into the car and were taken by mostly bumpy tracks to a cotton farm co-operative. We had no idea what to expect and had been told the harvest had taken place. I will wite about that experience in my next blog.
Here we are again thinking and learning. I have had a number of telephone calls recently from parents worried about the school uniform their child has to wear made from polyester/cotton mix. The polyester content has irritated the skin of the children. Cotton is a naturally “breathable” fabric and is much kinder to the skin for both adults and children. I certainly prefer cotton and wear it myself.
I then stumbled across the following article in “Wales online”. Wales is my homeland and I enjoy keeping up with the news. The article comments on the chemicals often applied to fabric to make it especially easy to care for. It is sometimes called anti wrinkle or Teflon coated. Perfluorinated compounds are added during manufacture and the World Wildlife Fund are worried about the effect of this man-made chemical on wild life. It’s a really thought provoking article – School uniforms making children ill?
Many schools choose polyester mix fabrics so that the garments can be washed very easily. However the arguments for “just cotton” are significant, breathable, kind to the skin, wash at lower temperatures and if you add the Fairtade cotton as an extra reason then I think the decision should be a wise one.
By the way on my way home form work Wednesday a magical barn owl accompanied me for about 200 yards. It made me wonder………..what do I need to make wise choices about in my life at the moment. Dig deep Susan. But that’s for another day.
We are about to introduce School uniform which is Fairtrade certified! Hurrah. To start with white, red and sky blue polo shirts, white t shirts, navy and red sweatshirts. As more schools ask for more colours we will add them to the range. Helen, Lisa, Natalie Jenny and I have been thinking about this for a while. We already supply many schools with uniform and it seemed such an obvious idea to offer a Fairtrade option.
Of course nothing is that simple – I wish it was! Supply, quality, reliability and stock holding, all need to be thought through.
Well we have our thinking caps on here at Cotton Roots. We have stock in five different colours of our Fairtrade and organic cotton T shirts in adult sizes – extra small – 2xl. But we are thinking “Why not stock childrens sizes as well”? It seems like a good idea but are there schools who would like them for part of their uniform? A Fairtrade School uniform. Helen is investigating. We are planning to ask headteachers of schools who are already Fairtrade to see if they would be interested. If you have any comments, thoughts, or suggestions please leave a comment for us. All ideas gratefully received!