United Arab Emirates. Dubai: The Arbor School became the first school to have a sustainable uniform in the UAE, and the only school in the world to adopt the EON Circular ID, also adopted by YOOX Net-a-Porter, Pangaia, Houdini Sportswear, Unspun (apart of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation Jeans Resign Program), and Nanushka.
The Arbor School partnered with homegrown sustainable school uniform brand, Kapes to offer parents and children ethically made school uniforms, free from harmful chemicals. The uniforms are made in their entirety from high-quality sustainable materials, including global organic textile standard (GOTs) certified organic cotton, 100% REPREVE recycled polyester, regenerated nylon, coconut shell, and use only non-toxic and non-harmful dyes.
Brett Girven, Principal of the Arbor School and Matthew Benjamin, Founder & CEO of Kapes commented, “Whilst we worry so much about where we get our food produce from we have not acknowledged that children wear school uniforms for over 90% of their time and yet they are made with materials that are harmful to their health and our skin is our biggest organ! Every parent would be horrified to hear that there are toxic materials in their children’s clothing. And yet that is exactly what is happening. Hazardous chemicals are being used in the production of school uniforms. Did you know that 80% of the chemicals in common use, we know almost nothing about? And as documented childhood asthma and obesity has tripled, and childhood cancer has risen by 40% in the past 20 years, they shared.”
A survey was commissioned of 250 parents in the UAE which indicates the following findings-
- Almost 9 in 10 (87%) of parents agree that sustainability is important to them, which is perhaps why 92% of parents would be willing to pay more for higher quality and sustainable school uniform alternatives for their children.
- 86% of parents surveyed agree that they expect their child’s school to ensure that uniforms do not contain chemicals that could be harmful to their child, and yet almost 9 in 10 (86%) of parents reported that their child`s skin has reacted badly to a school uniform.
For every student at the Arbor School that purchases a Kapes uniform, the Arbor School and Kapes will also give a free uniform to a child in need in a developing country. Through a unique QR code found in every single garment, an incentive and reward system is also developed for parents and children to track the return of items. This initiative will therefore allow for the adoption of a scalable second-hand uniform program. Additionally, the QR code will allow students to learn more about that product’s journey as Kapes’ champions transparency of its products, offering auditable records verified by blockchain and confirmed promises such as the item being made from certified organic cotton.
“As a part of the core vision for the Arbor School to develop and embed sustainability as a whole-school approach, we are excited to announce our partnership with Kapes, supplying 100 percent sustainable, organic uniforms to our community. School uniforms are a part of the retail and sustainability industry which causes a huge environmental impact as these garments typically are made from non-recycled synthetic fibres, like polyester, which sheds microplastics and ends up in landfills where they can take hundreds of years to decompose. There is also a large social implication, as it has been documented that some uniforms are made in unethical conditions in developing countries. With fashion being responsible for 10 percent of global carbon emission, a school uniform is a great tool for educating children, as well as adults, about sustainability – and one we wish to tackle alongside Kapes,” said Girven.