Heard of the adage – ‘Tell, don’t sell’? Telling our real stories to each other is how humans connect. And how we pour ourselves into our children, and also how our ancestors still belong in our lives. Stories are important. One thing though, stories also change. Back in 2009, Tiny Twig too started with a story, and we share it below. But has the 2009 story ended? Absolutely not. It has transformed, adding bits to itself here and there, and discarding irrelevant, outgrown parts, in learning how to be a responsible earth citizen. As Tiny Twig’s ecological and sustainable journey continues, some protagonists and other key players have changed, all in a good way, but we keep our earth-first and babies-first vision intact. Tiny Twig offers a certified, and the greenest option for baby clothing, and while we do more, grow more, and sell more, we promise to tell you more. Happy listening!
Dr Madhu, our founder, recounts: One day, not long ago, in Adelaide, Australia
I am not the type to make small conversation. Some even say that I am too intense, as I brush off the inane talk, and linger on for more meaningful and stimulating discussions. Indeed, with my good friends, we regularly dissect a small topic to a seemingly atomic level.One summer evening, some of us mothers were discussing increasing eczema in babies and young children, and how to combat it. Although prescription moisturisers helped, it was still puzzling that the eczema always came back. Even high quality, branded baby lotions and shampoos seemed to aggravate eczema. ‘Could be the chemicals’ we nodded. We also agreed some clothes made eczema worse (more ‘angry’ and red), and some calmed it down. Was cotton better than synthetic apparel? Surprisingly, anecdotally, cotton seemed not to be any different! You’d think it would be – ‘natural’, breathable, comfortable. All our ancients in all parts of the world have draped themselves and their homes with cotton – would humans have used it for so long if it was a problem fabric? Was it working well for a long, long time, and then stopped being a safe fabric, somehow? Did something change – ‘could it be the chemicals’ as well? If so, what changed and how? Our informal chat hooked me to finding more clues and joining logical dots, which is something my academic background (PhD. In chemistry) compels me to do.
Over the next few weeks, I intensely researched human skin and my favoured fabric, cotton. Cotton is humankind’s most favourite fabric – it feels comfortable and appropriate in most seasons, for adults and children alike. But do you know exactly how much we love cotton? Well, the world grows 25 million tonnes of cotton, per year! Since the 1950s, more and more chemical fertilisers are being used to produce this massive (and increasing) amount of cotton! The chemical fertilisers sprayed on cotton have sinister, tongue-twister names like profenofos, endosulphan and methamedofos and account for a whopping 40% of the world’s total chemical pesticides. This is what changed – cotton was no longer grown naturally. And since the 1990s, the old cotton seeds have been increasingly replaced by Bt cotton, genetically modified seeds that have higher yields, but which cannot resist ‘local’ pests and that also use more chemical fertilisers! But, so what? Couldn’t we solve this issue by merely doing laundry each time we buy new clothes? Nope. These pesticides do NOT get washed off!
But still, what if some chemicals do remain on the cotton – what does it mean to our health? Our skin is the largest organ of the body. Similar to other major functional organs like kidneys, lungs, hearts, etc., our skin also helps us get rid of toxins (as sweat and salts) from our bodies. We must keep the skin clean and breathable so that it can function optimally. My research indicates that oral, dermal and inhaling exposure to harmful agricultural pesticides contribute directly and significantly to the development of many skin disorders like eczema and even skin cancer. And this is true for more matured adult skin. Did you know that a baby’s skin is 7 times thinner than an adult’s skin? The first few months of a baby’s life is significant in terms of physical, emotional and mental milestones, so paying attention to what wraps their skin, what covers it, is quite crucial. As mothers we know, babies slobber and chew on their clothes (oral exposure), are warmly covered from head to toe many times (dermal exposure) and also thankfully, breathe (inhaling exposure). Without any doubt, we need ultra-safe and comfortable clothing for infants and toddlers!
I now knew where I was headed concerning clothing for children. Cotton, still, but with a BIG difference! Cotton that is grown organically with manure and compost, and without chemical fertilisers with hard- to-pronounce names. Hence, organically cultivated cotton does not harbour any toxic pesticides, since none were used in the first place. This type of healthy farming (no harmful exposure for our hardworking farmers!) also preserves soil fertility and keeps local insects and microbes in balance. Growing organic cotton further protects the earth’s limited resources by using 90% less water than conventional cotton. So, 100% organic cotton is indeed a very safe and globally trusted textile alternative when it comes to ethical kidswear. Yes! I had joined my environmental dots from farm to finish, hurray!
I also decided that I wanted to be the one to make this possible for myself, my child, my family, my community, and my planet. Thus, Tiny Twig was born of this philosophy of love and care for babies and the environment. I set my heart on to do it right – I wanted my baby (Tiny Twig) to follow the highest standards of quality, ethics, and sustainability. This is where I got GOTS to come in – Global Organic Textile Standard is the authorising body which audits and certifies the cotton as organic. GOTS not only certifies organic cotton but also oversees the whole process of garment manufacturing from farm to finish. As a result, our children can have ethical, certified organic clothing that is gentle to their skinwhile being equally kind to the environment. I encourage you to look for GOTS certified baby clothing so that you can rest assured of quality and safety! Tiny Twig has been GOTS-certified from its inception in 2009, and it qualifies each year to be diligently, proudly labelled so.