Words by Matthew Benjamin, Founder and CEO of Kapes
A conscious consumer is defined as an active member of the economy who considers the environmental, social and ecological impact of their purchasing choices. One must simply have the intent to preserve the environment to be considered consuming consciously.
In a world of constant change where technology and information reign, it is now possible for children to consume information at a much faster rate than that of their parents. Having all the tools required to learn best practices early on in their life, parents have a primary role of introducing to children the importance of sustainability and how they can, in turn, work towards preserving the environment.
Look for answers together
Children are curious creatures. While they’re not directly asking all the questions, they are observing (and absorbing) everything happening around them. With guidance and sharing knowledge, parents can help their kids see that they have the ability to make a positive difference in the world.
In fact, children don’t really understand where their beloved products come from. Educating them about the things they eat, wear, and play with, can help develop their critical thinking, shaping their purchasing habits and ability to question the sustainability claims of brands in the future. Companies like Kapes, a homegrown sustainable school uniform brand, support this with a mission is to empower children to become change-makers by encouraging them to be more connected to the things they wear, the people that make them and the places they are made.
Create relevant experiences
Advocating a universal change isn’t done by solely one person; it has to involve everyone and it can start with parents at home, passing on sustainable practices to their children. It is important to lead by example, and let them know that their voice is heard.
For children to become conscious consumers, they need role models that foster a genuine concern for the environment and cultivate sustainable habits in the home and school early on. From recycling items, finding energy-saving appliances to buying sustainable clothes, these are just a few patterns that would go a long way in motivating the children to feel responsible for safeguarding the environment.
Taking school uniforms as an example, it’s not until recently that we are seeing an increased awareness of their impact on the environment, despite it being the clothing worn the most in kids aged between five and 18. Much like retail and fast fashion in general, a school uniform not only contributes to damaging our ecosystem but more importantly it contains dangerous chemicals risking the wellbeing of children and those that make uniforms.
This being said, brands have a moral obligation to keep sustainability at the forefront of their goals and share reliable information about their products. As with Kapes, who offers sustainable school uniforms and takes the children and parents throughout their ‘making of’ journey to educate them on the importance of sustainable practices.
Establish good habits
During the early years of a child’s life, it’s imperative to focus on building interest in ecological topics and green living. With time, they are bound to become more mindful of their consumption habits.
Encourage children to grow closer to nature. Take them on long walks, hikes, climbing; all those activities will help them associate the environment with happy moments. When you successfully build an emotional connection between children and nature, they will intuitively become more susceptible to environmental issues and even so adopt more sustainable practices. Consequently, they may take up healthier habits when they get older such as riding a bike instead of driving a car.
It is through teaching and leadership that parents can help kids harness their consumer power and become the eco-warriors we need them to be. These teachings will become their normal; the eco-friendly habits they learn and the environmentally conscious choices they see will shape them into the future of environmental sustainability.
Kapes, the homegrown sustainable school uniforms brand, launched in the UAE in September 2020, offering schools, parents and children ethically made school uniforms, free from harmful chemicals. Ethically produced in certified working conditions, Kapes uniforms are made in their entirety from quality sustainable materials, including GOTs certified organic cotton, recycled wool, recycled polyester, regenerated nylon, recycled ocean plastics and using only eco-friendly dyes. In addition, each school uniform is collected when outgrown to give them a new purpose as a pre-loved item, reducing emissions and supporting the community.