Studies show that the production of clothes has doubled since the year 2000. At a time of fast fashion, consumers are buying and discarding clothes at an increasingly high rate. Clothing production fuelled by high consumption continues to have massive impacts on the environment.
Taking better care of your clothes is part of adapting to an eco- lifestyle and this can minimize our impact.
Here are some handy tips:
Sort out clothes by color. This may seem like common sense but avoid mixing clothes and throwing all of them into the washing machine together. Instead, sort out clothes to ensure that colors don’t mix and each piece of clothing is cleaned under appropriate temperatures to avoid damaging clothes.
For purposes of efficiency—energy and water saving—always clean a full load instead of doing several half-empty loads. Even then, do not overstuff the machine as this will wear it down fast.
Always read and adhere to the care instruction attached to clothes to ensure that your clothes last longer. Typically, the temperature indicated on the garment’s care instructions is the highest it should be washed at without damaging it.
You may however wash the garment at lower temperatures if it is only slightly dirty because most detergents and machines can effectively remove light stains even under lower temperature. This consideration will retain the quality of your clothes and you will save energy by lowering the machine’s temperature to as low as 30°C.
Wash your clothes only when necessary. Avoid over-washing clothes to minimize discoloring, and wear and tear. Some brands of denim should only be spot-cleaned instead of washing them. When you do clean your jeans, turn them inside out to avoid the nasty color streaks that could force you to discard your jeans.
You should also turn clothes with prints, embroideries and embellishments inside out to retain their quality.
Avoid soaking certain materials such as silk and whenever possible, hand wash delicate fabrics such as wool or use the recommended washing machine programme.
Opt for cold water and eco-friendly detergents such as soap nuts or laundry balls. Conventional detergents contain chemicals that are harmful to you, the environment and your clothes. Look out for laundry products that are easily biodegradable, do not contain phosphate and are preferably vegetable-based.
Hang your clothes out to dry under the sun instead of drying them in the dryer. The dryer dries out clothes fast and wears them down equally fast. Air drying also saves energy and is good for your wallet
Hang or fold your clothes as soon as they are dry. The change from warm to cool will ensure that clothes don’t wrinkle and thus will not need to be ironed. De-clutter your closet to avoid cramming your clothes together, which causes wrinkles and necessitates ironing.
By showing your clothes extra love before and after washing, they will last longer and you will not need to keep buying new ones. A reduction in clothing production and consumption is ultimately good for the environment in terms of water use and waste reduction, and this type of sustainable living in turn reflect on our wellbeing.