Lately I’ve seen so many posts on mindful mending. Some of the mends are so beautiful and inspiring it makes me wish I had holes in my jumpers or jeans to be able to mend them in such unique and stunning ways. And while mending is an important part of sustainable fashion, taking care of our garments so they don’t need mending comes first.
So How can we take care of our garments and the planet together? Here’s my top 5 tips for sustainable garment care.
1 | COLD WASH You might often see on garment labels that it says “care for our planet and wash cold” or something to that extent. Why does it matter if we wash hot or cold? If you use a hot wash up to 90% of the energy used is used to heat the water, only 10% is used to turn the motor! (i) Hot water also can damage the fabric of your clothing with shrinkage, fading, colour runs and wrinkling being some negative impacts. (ii) It is important however to always read your care label and follow the instructions – some fabrics need warm water to be cleaned properly especially if you are wanting to sanitise.
2| LOW SPIN Spin speed during your washing cycle impacts how dry your clothes come out at the end of the wash; but spin speed can also be damaging for fine and delicate clothes and creates more friction between the garments. Friction can cause pilling but also shedding of micro plastics that end up in our waterways, oceans and ultimately in the mouths of sea creatures and even our drinking water. (iii) By reducing our spin speed, we reduce the friction and the shedding of micro plastic. (iv)
3| LINE DRY Where possible, line dry your clothes. There are so many benefits to line drying your clothes. It reduces odours, can help remove stains and reduces the stress put on your clothes with a tumble dryer. Tumble dryers cause extra stress on your garments with the heat that is applied and the fact that garments are tossed around with each other – zippers can become caught, buttons snagged and anything with elastane in it, the fibres break down faster. Not only will you save money on not buying dryer sheets, not using as much electricity or on garment repairs – you could also be reducing your carbon footprint by approximately 1.8kg of C02 for each cycle! (v)
4| NO FABRIC SOFTENER What did you say?! Yes, I said no fabric softener. Firstly fabric softener puts a coating on your clothes, clogging the “pores” of the fibre – especially important to note if you are washing towels, athleisure garments or anything that is designed to wick moisture away, or be water resistant. This coating also builds up and eventually makes it difficult for water and detergent to clean your clothes! Fabric softener is also bad for the environment and your health! The ingredients used in fabric softener (and dryer sheets!) can be derived from petroleum, highly toxic to aquatic life and has even been linked to an increase in asthma in people who are exposed regularly. (vi)
5| HANG OR FOLD
This one is quite simple and easy to see the benefits. As soon as you bring your washing in off the line, hang it up or fold it. Not only does it save you time later, it saves the need to iron which in turn saves electricity! It also means your clothes stay fresh, clean and won’t accidentally get stepped on or messed on meaning they need washing again before wearing! Let us know your favourite garment care tip, or if you have any that we haven’t mentioned and need to know about!
(i) https://blog.epa.gov/2014/04/30/earth-month-tip-wash-your-clothes-in-cold-water/(ii) https://www.geappliances.com/ge/lifestyles/6-reasons-to-cold-water-wash.htm (iii) https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/microplastics/ (iv) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200114173110.htm (v)https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ethicallivingblog/2008/may/02/treadlightlyswitchofftumbl (vi) https://mygreencloset.com/never-use-fabric-softener/