Greening your Laundry Habits
If you have been reading about the ill-effects of chemical detergents and dry cleaning to our health and environment, you know that a pedestrian chore like doing the laundry has a larger impact on the planet than we might think.
Clean, washed and ironed clothes are integral to modern health, hygiene and social etiquette and one can’t forgo a load of laundry, of course! You are probably asking then, what you can do differently and what alternatives exist.
Little changes go a long way. Consumers exercise power through their purchase choices and usage behaviours.
- Read product labels.
- Even green or eco-friendly products may contain toxic fragrances or petroleum derived ingredients. Avoid products with labels that say “Warning”, “Danger” or “Poison”.
- Look for phosphate free, biodegradable labels that have plant and vegetable based ingredients.
- Follow the usage instructions. Use only the recommended amount of detergent for a load of washing. More doesn’t mean better or cleaner.
- Find sustainable alternatives in organic home remedies.
- Try using 1/2 cup of vinegar instead of a store-bought fabric softener.
- Avoid detergents with strong fragrances. For fragrance, try throwing in a damp rag with a few drops of essential oil in the dryer with your laundry.
- Try baking soda to naturally brighten colours and get rid of odours.
- A combination of baking soda, water and washing soda works well to pre-treat stains before they go into the washing machine. This way you can use a milder detergent.
- Maintain washer and drier hygiene to reduce spreading germs.
- Ensure that your dryer vents outdoors and clean the vent periodically.
- Rid the washer of bacteria, soap, scum and grease by running a cleaning cycle with white vinegar and hot water.
- Find a balance between cleanliness and prudence.
- Nearly 3/4th of the carbon footprint of a washing machine comes from drying in a tumble dry. Wherever possible, use a clothes-line or drying-rack.
- It is estimated that you can consume up to 5 times less energy by wearing your jeans at least 3 times, washing them in cold water and skipping the dryer and the iron. Simply hang the clothes to dry on a clothes hanger to save energy required to iron.
- Avoid dry-cleaning or choose professional ‘wet-cleaning’.
- Avoid purchasing clothes that need frequent dry-cleaning. Reduce the number of times you dry-clean by using common spirits such as cheap vodka in a spray bottle.
- Ask your dry-cleaner about new methods like wet-cleaning which do not have the toxic effects of perc. (a solvent used in the process which has carcinogenic properties as well as hazardous environmental impacts)
- Make it yourself.
- Experiment with do-it-yourself home-made detergents, whiteners and softeners made from organic materials. They are simple to make, ingredients can be sourced locally and you will know what you put in and what you kept out. With some practice, you’ll find a formula that works just right for you.
If we choose, together we can be walking on a continuous path of change towards a safer, greener, healthier way of life. What it needs is simply for each of us to be persistent and responsible in playing our parts. It’s simple, really!
DONATE YOUR FASHION ITEMS
‘It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.’ Mother Theresa. Since time immemorial, we’ve donated unwanted items to the less fortunate. Giving is a form of receiving, in this case it’s also a way to be sustainable!
1. Donate to a trusted institution that will get your clothes into the right hands.
TIP: Be sensitive to giving the right sort of clothes to the right organisations. Make sure your items are pre-sorted and clean to ensure these charitable institutions can save time while sifting through the heaps of clothes they receive.
LEARN MORE: Here’s an outlook on how developing nations perceive your preloved clothing: Developing Nations Perspective on Second Hand Clothing.
2. Donate to a thrift store that sells for a noble cause.
TIP: Your clothes could spark hope and make a difference in someone else’s life. Instead of hoarding them, hug them goodbye and set them free!
LEARN MORE: Check out our article on: Getting ‘Thrifty’: A Guide to Loving and Supporting Thrift Shopping.
3. Donate to a local charity and contribute to your own neighbourhood.
TIP:Take initiative and plan a drive to encourage your neighbours to come together and donate items to local charities.
LEARN MORE: Check this article out to learn more about your pre-loved impact: What is Pre-loved, Second-Hand Clothing and Why is it Important?
4. Donate unusable garments to recycling centers.
TIP: Fashion Brands like Nike, H&M, Zara collect preloved items for recycling.
LEARN MORE: Check out this article to see what happens if we are not conscious of how we dispose our pre-loved: Where do our old garments go?
5. Donate directly to individuals who are less fortunate than you.
TIP:Know that you are not only making someone happy, but also saving our environment!
LEARN MORE: Check out this article to learn how discarded pre-loved clothing is causing global warming: Collossal Environmental Damage Caused by Discarded Fabrics.
SUSTAINABLE FASHION MOVEMENTS
‘Become the change you want to see’ – Mahatma Gandhi. Many passionate advocates have started small and stepped up to influence the way the world views fashion. Participate or volunteer to become an influencer and walk the talk!
1. The textile revolution is here! Global movements are making us rethink our choices.
We agree and believe that the time has come for us to be part of a greater cause. There are increase in Global movements like Fashion Revolution that are creating awareness on issues that were previously hidden deep within multi-tiered fashion supply chains!
TIP: It’s now or never – we have greater power than we ever imagine. Be a part of the solution!
LEARN MORE: Here is one interesting initiative that’s easy for us to participate in: 30 Wears Challenge : Getting Maximum Mileage from our Clothes.
2. Sustainable stamps of approval. Certifications that help us discern the good from the bad.
TIP: When you buy anything look at it’s label to see what whether it was produced responsibly. If there isn’t a label, demand that the brand gives you this information. Such small acts can help force brands to be more sustainable!
LEARN MORE: Here’s an article to help guide your next decision: An Overview of Common Sustainable Garment Certifications and Standards.
3. Bodies that accolade and award brands for their sustainable efforts.
TIP: If you’re a sustainable fashion designer or brand, watch out for these awards to get inspired or nominate yourself!
LEARN MORE: Read about award worthy textile innovations: New Sustainable Textile Innovations
4. Influencers and bloggers who walk the sustainable talk.
TIP: If you want to use Fabric of the World as a platform to influence the world on fashion sustainability, write to us!
LEARN MORE: Check out our fashion influencer’s interviews here.
5. Events that connect conscious brands and consumers.
TIP: The most important step after awareness is taking action! It is as simple as changing your purchasing habits or supporting a sustainable brand!
LEARN MORE: A Fabric of the World, we have upcoming series of workshops and events to be part of! Write to us to learn more.
SHARE YOUR FASHION ITEMS
Why buy when you can Borrow, Rent & Exchange (just don’t steal or beg). The uberization of fashion is here to stay! We can share our wardrobes with the world through many many ways! It’s cheap, cheerful and moreover UBER chic! Read more to join the cool kids club and discover fashion’s best kept secret.
1. Rent out your clothes or rent from others’ wardrobes.
TIP: This is useful for items that we use rarely such as ski boots or ball gowns!
LEARN MORE: Rent the Runway was one of the first known brands to start a rental trend. Check them out!
2. Keep your wardrobe lean and wallet fat. Sell to cash in your old clothes.
TIP: Selling your fashion items gets you flushed in cash but more importantly reduces the wasteful production of new fast fashion items.
LEARN MORE: Learn why the fast fashion industry is detrimental to our planet: An Overview of Fast Fashion – Definition, Consequences & Solutions.
3. Re-love the preloved. Shop secondhand.
TIP:Shopping secondhand takes fewer natural resources to produce and is less hurtful to the wallet too.
LEARN MORE: Check out this article to learn why supporting secondhand is an important solution to the making the fashion industry more sustainable: 5 Facts About Textile Recycling.
4. Why shop when you can swap?
TIP: Swapping is the cheapest way of being sustainable and having a constantly fresh wardrobe.
LEARN MORE: Learn more about second hand and how swapping is an important solution to making fashion more sustainable: What is Pre-loved, Second-Hand Clothing and Why is it Important ?.
THINGS YOU DO IN YOUR OWN HOME
“Home is where the heart is”. But our heart can only go on if our ‘home’ has a ‘planet’ to rest on. Sustainable living begins at home. It isn’t just about buying eco-friendly or ethical brands. It’s also about our mindsets and the tiny habits we can tweak in our own homes. Remember these are easy fixes to preserve our planet for our future generations.
1. Your tiniest actions can save gallons and gallons of water.
A single cotton t-shirt takes about 2700 litres of water to make. That’s as much drinking water for 23 people in an entire month!
TIP: You can do many simple things to help conserve water such as: buy less, use your fashion items to their fullest, repurpose fashion waste and donate instead of throwing.
LEARN MORE: Check out how much water your cotton clothes alone waste: Cotton is a very thirsty plant.
2. A simple ‘switch’ can save electricity that can power nations.
TIP: Wash your clothes only when you have to and use your washing machine and dryer only when you have a full load. Washing your load in cold water also conserves more energy than when you do in hot water.LEARN MORE: Here’s a look at other environmental concerns with wasting practice: Come Clean with your Laundry. What you don’t know may be hurting you!
3. Hoard memories, not wardrobes filled with memorabilia.
TIP:Take a photo and embed the memory in your heart forever, but let the physical item find a suitable home.LEARN MORE: Here are a few fun ways in which you can share your clothes with others: Share your fashion items.
4. Sustainable shopping habits will keep our planet intact for your grandkids.
TIP: It’s simple really. Just be mindful when you shop and insist on knowing whether your potential purchases have harmed the environment or workers in any way.
LEARN MORE: Here are a few fun ways in which you can be sustainable: share your fashion items, shop eco-friendly or shop ethical.
5. Green your laundry habits. It’s WAY easier than you think.
TIP:Here are a few things you can do to get started to being more sustainable: Read product labels, maintain washer and dryer hygiene, avoid dry cleaning, make your own organic detergent.
LEARN MORE: How can you can make a big difference though tiny actions: Greening your Laundry Habits : reducing environmental footprints with every lot of laundry.
Also learn how your laundry affects marine life: 6kg washing load drains 700,000 synthetic fibres into waste water, killing marine life.
SHOP ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY
“Every dollar we spend is a vote what we want to see in the world” Anna Lappe.
Let’s face it. We love traditional retail therapy. So let’s not eliminate it from our lives and make use of the power we have to change the world. Your shopping choices have the power to change the fact that fashion industry is the 2nd largest polluter in the world. Shop, but responsibly!
1. Buy Upcycled or re-purposed. Reusing existing resources is in!
A lot of natural resources and human efforts are put into creating fashion articles that we don’t use for very long. Conscious individuals and designers such as Bottletop have taken matters into their own hands to create beautiful fashion items out of discarded resources.
TIP: Anyone can repurpose. It can fulfil a functional need as opposed to a fashion one. For example, your old cotton tees can become pillow stuffing.
LEARN MORE: Learn about what Upcycling really means: The Concept of Upcycling: “Repair, Remake, Reimagine”
2. Is your purchase really eco-friendly? Check its certification.
TIP:Check the label before you buy any fashion item. If it isn’t sustainable as a consumer you can put pressure on brands to be more responsible. Your voice is the most important one – use it.
LEARN MORE:We have compiled an article on sustainable certifications and standards just for you:An Overview of Common Sustainable Garment Certifications and Standards.
3. How many tones of greenhouse gas did you just purchase? How far did your garment travel to get to you?
TIP: We can’t say it better: The Importance of Supporting Local Textile Production
LEARN MORE: Check out this article to find out the true cost in getting your clothes to a store near you: Fashion on a Toxic Trip: Just how far do your clothes travel to reach you ?
SHOP ETHICALLY SOURCED
“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.” Mahatma Gandhi. Let’s face it. We love traditional retail therapy. So let’s not eliminate it from our lives and make use of the power we have to change the world. Do you want to contribute to the problem or the solution? Check these sustainable alternatives out! Shop, but ethically!
1. Empower the people who sew your clothes. Are your clothes sourced ethically?
The fast fashion industry’s practices towards workers are unethical in many ways. They often work in sweatshop work environments, are exposed to harmful chemicals, are ill-treated and are rewarded less than minimum wages. As consumers we have a choice to be part of the solution or the problem.
TIP: Always question who made your clothes. Are you wearing the suffering of another individual?
LEARN MORE:Check out this article on: Who Really Made My Clothes ?
2. Is there the tiniest chance your clothes were made by slave or child labourers? Learn the story behind who made your clothes.
TIP:Learn more about the brands who make your clothes. How transparent are their supply chains? Could children be making their clothes? Hopefully these facts influence your purchase decisions.
LEARN MORE:Here’s a quick look into the back scenes of unethical fashion! Unethical Fashion : Exploitation of Women and Children
3. Know the brands you’re buying from. Do they really care who makes their designs or only if it’s cheap?
TIP: Learn more about the brands who make your clothes. Do they know who their suppliers are? How transparent are their supply chains? Hopefully these facts influence your purchase decisions.
LEARN MORE: Shocking facts here: The Ethical Cost of Our Inexpensive Wardrobes