Eco-Friendly School Prevents Child Labor, One Shirt At A Time

An Australian school is the first to use clothing made from recycled plastic bottles, using an ethical production process.

Focused on the ethical sourcing of garments, a local company in Sydney has come up with school uniforms made with cotton and polyester, derived from plastic bottles.

Yes, you read that right.

Change Threads, a clothing manufacturer, uses recycled bottles to produce polyester, which is then blended with woven cotton fabrics.

"All of our garments are made in India from organic and fair trade certified cotton. Our woven fabrics are blended with polyester made from recycled plastic bottles, providing an ethical supply chain and garments of exceptional quality," their website states.

Hazelbrook Public School in the Blue Mountains near Sydney has now become the first school to purchase uniforms from Change Threads. Using this method, the school is not only doing its part in protecting the environment, but it is also saving children in India from child labor.

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Anna Dohnt, the founder of Change Threads, visited India a few years ago and was shocked to learn of the amount of exploitation that went into every stage of clothing production.

Threads Uniforms Plastic Bottles

"Alarmingly, the clothing industry often involves forced labor, including child labor. To me, it is not OK that our children are wearing cotton everyday that is often produced by slaves,” she said. “It’s not OK that my family is part of someone else's suffering.”

That inspired her to create the ethical clothing brand.

“If you stop and think about it, it's outrageous that children in India are unable to go to school because they’re making school uniforms for kids in Australia wear to school," Dohnt added. "I don't think any parent would argue that this inequality is OK, so I think it makes sense for schools to be offering fair trade uniform options."

Australian Hazelbrook School

 “We’re delighted with Hazelbrook Primary School's move to uniforms made with Fairtrade cotton,” said Molly Harriss Olson, CEO Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand. “It's a great milestone and their uniform supplier, Change Threads, has done a great job in helping to make this possible.”

Fairtrade operates to ensure workers involved in the production process receive fair wages for their labor and that long-term contracts are implemented. It also keeps a look out for forced child labor and the use non-environmental friendly materials being used by companies.

To make things easier, the polo T-shirts for the school uniforms are now available online and at local stores and at the school’s uniform shop. 

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