When buying clothes, we want them to last us a long time so that we can wear them over and over again. The process of a conscious fashion journey begins with where you shop, however, clothing care is also an important factor to reducing your negative impact on the planet.
What does caring for your clothes sustainably entail and how does it help the planet?
This guide has what you need to care for your clothes responsibly so that they can truly last. Here are some tips and tricks we've rounded up so you can start your clothing eco conscious journey.
"Basically, in life, rule of thumb: if you don't absolutely have to clean anything, don't clean it." - Stella McCartney
This first tip is probably the most simple but effective measure you could take for caring for your clothes sustainably. Reducing the amount of times you wash your clothes isn't only good for them but also for the environment!
A poll of 2,000 British adults found the average washing machine will go through four loads of laundry each week. (Source)
There isn't a correct amount for how often you should wash your clothes. The amount you wash them will differ for everyone depending on how often you wear your clothes, how much you tend to sweat, the fabric of the clothing and much more. However, you should wash as little as possible to reduce your energy usage.
Lowering the temperature can have less impact on the environment, as well as your clothes.
A lot of clothes are now recommended to be washed on a lower heat setting or on a cold wash as most of the energy required for washing goes towards heating the water. Therefore, lowering the temperature will help cut down CO2 emissions and help save the planet. (Source)
Using a cold temperature to wash your clothes can also expand the life and vibrancy of certain colours and materials, as well as, release less microfibres as hotter washes tend to wear out the fibres from the fabrics.
Hand wash delicate fabrics
When we buy clothes they tend to come with some sort of cheat code for taking proper care of our clothes. These cheat codes come in a form of care labels.
Care labels tell us step by step at what temperature you can wash your piece of clothing, whether it can be tumble dried or ironed ect. In other words, care labels are extremely important as they tell us exactly how to take proper care of the garment.
By providing the correct care to your clothing you allow the clothes to last longer without wear and tear, meaning you don't have to constantly be replacing them with new clothes.
TIP: Care labels state the highest temperature it can be washed in - you can wash in lower temperatures!
Use a Guppy washing bag
A guppy bag is a washing bag that keeps microplastic fibres from entering our rivers and oceans through the washing of synthetic textiles. The harmful fibres from the garment gather in the corners of the washing bag and can then be effortlessly be taken out and disposed of.
As many as 700,000 microfibres can be released from a single load of laundry. (Source)
By using a Guppy bag you are able to prevent harmful fibres from entering and polluting oceans and rivers.
We've tried out the GUPPYFRIEND washing bag and found it super easy to use. Let us know if you've tried any and your experiences with them!
Consider eco-friendly products
Environmentally friendly cleaning products are a great alternative to the normal soaps and detergents sold at shops as they're equally as effective and don't contain any harmful chemicals or pollutants that can end up in our oceans. They also lack harmful toxins allowing the products to be natural and safe.
Environmentally friendly products are also more sensitive and gentle on clothes, allowing them to last longer, as well as allowing them to be more sensitive for your skin.
Let us know if you have any recommendations for eco-friendly products!
At any moment you can, you should try to air dry your clothes rather than tumble drying them.
Tumble dryers can often be the reason for the wear and tear in our clothing. The high heat can be harsh on the fabric, shrink our favourite clothing, loosen elastics and cause colours to fade away.
As well as being harmful to your clothes, tumble dryers are harmful to the environment. A household that uses a tumble dryer 200 times each year could save nearly half a tonne of CO2 by changing to a clothes rack or washing line. (Source)
Provide appropriate aftercare
After having washed and dried you clothing sustainably, you have to make sure to provide appropriate aftercare so that they continue to last as long a possible.
Firstly, make sure you still wear and love everything you have in your wardrobe (you can also take this time to reorganise your wardrobe). If there are clothing sitting in your wardrobe that you haven't picked up in a long while - ask yourself:
- Can I put an outfit together from my wardrobe where I will wear this more often?
- Can I up-cycle this to make it something I would like?
- Will this be better in someone else's home?
If the answer for the first two is yes, perfect! You've now figured out a way of keeping and wearing your garment!
If the answer is yes for the last one, thats also okay. Check with friends and family to see if they love it and want it or sell it, so that it ends up in a home where it will be loved.
Once your wardrobe is full of items you love and wear, make sure everything is hung up and folded properly so that you minimise wrinkling and are able to reach out to everything efficiently!