A KEY PART OF IMPROVING FASHION SUSTAINABILITY IS IN YOUR HANDS
Did you know that more than two-thirds of a clothing item’s carbon footprint occurs after purchase in the washing and drying process? As a customer, that means that much of the power to improve the sustainability of the fashion industry lies in your hands.
Not only can you insist that labels (like us) responsibly source sustainable textiles and produce their clothing in a sustainable and fair way, but you can even further reduce the impact of those clothes after you take them home.
Here are some ways you can make a difference:
WASH ONLY WHEN NEEDED
Judge your clothes’ washing needs. Instead of throwing the whole garment into the machine, often it might need just a quick spot clean (although always test your method first on a hidden part of the garment, to avoid any adverse reactions in the fabric). This will save time, water, money, detergent and help your clothes last way longer.
ALWAYS BE FULLY LOADED
To optimise time and energy trying to wash in full machine loads is essential, but try not to mix colours (males...ahem!).
WASH 'EM COLD
Setting your washing machine to cold reduces the energy needed to heat the water. A cold wash also keeps your clothes alive and thriving for longer. Start by checking out the washing instructions on your clothing items. You should take this guide as a maximum if something isn’t stained and just needs a freshening you can wash it colder. While whites sometimes need a hot wash to resolve the colour, most dyes fade in the heat reducing the life cycle of your black and colourful items. These same items should be turned inside out as the dye will run back into the clothing and reduce fade.
HANG THEM (UP TO DRY)
As a general rule of thumb the more heat an appliance generates, the more energy it takes to run. Dryers consume a massive amount of energy and speed up the deterioration of clothing as heat damages the clothing fibres. So embrace the air and let your gear hang out to dry! Oh and, ALWAYS dry knitwear and silk flat to prevent stretching and turn colourful items inside if you are drying them in the sun to reduce fade.
When you can, use bio-detergents. The chemicals in regular detergents are effective removing stains but end up in water systems. Use them only when really needed. Bio-detergents contain protein-digesting enzymes that are designed to be extremely effective when cleaning common protein and fat stains like food and sweat. These enzymes usually work well at low temperatures and remove stains that usually require high-temperature washes.
CATCH THOSE PLASTIC MICROFIBERS
When you wash polyesters, tiny plastic microfibers are shed from the garment into the machine water, which is then drained and flushed out into waterways. These plastic microfibers do not only contaminate the entire marine ecosystem but also end up in the digestive systems of fish. That same fish may also end up on your dinner plate…if that sounds a lot like eating your clothes, that’s because it is. Yikes!
To stop further contamination of ecosystems and to prevent yourself from indirectly ingesting plastic you can purchase a Cora Ball or an equivalent. These gadgets collect plastic microfibers from your washing water, allowing you to dispose of them where they belong, in the rubbish bin.
At Hund Hund, we try to keep our use of synthetic fabrics to the bare minimum, only using fabrics with a small percentage of polyester in a small part of our collections. They only usually appear when we are buying a deadstock fabric or sometimes in performance textiles which only require infrequent washing and where the synthetics provide a utility such as, waterproofing.
THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH ABOUT DRY CLEANING
Try to avoid dry cleaning whenever possible. Many items can be safely washed at home either by hand or using a washing machine on the delicate cycle. Most dry cleaning uses a chemical called perchloroethylene (perc) which is effective in degreasing, deodorizing and cleaning fabrics without shrinkage or fading, but it is a highly toxic chemical solvent that, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been shown to cause cancer, kidney disease and liver damage.
For garments that still require a professional touch due to other factors try Green Dry Cleaning. This refers to a perc free method that reduces toxicity and CO2 emissions. Look for a professional cleaner that uses water as its main solvent.
THE LONGER YOUR CLOTHES LAST THE LESS OFTEN YOU NEED TO REPLACE THEM
Clothing should be considered to have value and character that increases over time. As a result of disposable fast fashion trends, we consume four times as much clothing as we did in the 1980’s. This kind of consumption is unnecessary and unsustainable. By following the above steps and selecting quality garments you will save all-around.
MAKE AMENDS WITH YOUR OLD FRIENDS
If you love them, mend them. You can prolong the lifespan of a most loved get-up by going to your local tailor or through buying a sewing kit and doing a DIY job. Repairing that coat/ dress/ shirt that you always get compliments on will be super satisfying, and it's a new skill under your belt!
Love will tear us apart… when it’s time to part ways set them free and give them and a new lease on life, swap them, lend, flea market, thrift, or recycle. If you have taken good care of them you’ll be passing on clothing that won’t go straight into landfill but will serve a new purpose.
By Michelle Torres.