10 Tips: How to Take Care of Your Clothing

Washing your clothes also has an effect on the environment. Countless microfibers from the fabric are released into your plumbing every time you wash an article of clothing. The count is even higher if you wash in hot water. Additionally, dyes from colorful clothing pollute the water as well. Both dyes and microfibers end up in local waterways and pollute the planet’s bodies of water. Even running a washer and dryer uses energy and contributes to higher emissions.

In order to help reduce the harm here are 10 tips on how to take care of your clothing:

1. Wash COLD! – This helps reduce the amount of microfibers that are wasted when you wash your clothes. It also is better for the clothes in general by having less damage on the fabric and making them last longer.

2. SHORT cycle- Your clothes/ linens do NOT need to have extra rinse or an extra long wash. I’m sorry but we do not need to stand in the shower for an extra 10-20 minutes contemplating our lives so your clothes shouldn’t have the luxury either.

3. SPOT CLEAN- when you have a stain on a shirt just clean the stain with cold water, a spot remover, baking soda, or seltzer. This just reduces the amount that you need to wash an article.

4. FREEZE YOUR JEANS- yes. I know it sounds weird. I have worked in denim for over 4 years and what I have learned is that you should not wash your jeans and ESPECIALLY not put them in the dryer because it ruins the elasticity of the jean and decreases the lifespan on the denim. Putting them in the freezer overnight kills the bacteria and stiffens up the fabric again. If you have a stain please refer to tip #3.

5. HANG DRY- putting clothes in the dryer increases energy used and emissions released in addition to ruining the fabric of your clothes. It might take longer and you wont have that warm rush of putting on a hot hoodie but hey! Save the planet.

6. Use environmentally friendly soaps and detergents- plain and simple. The products you use also have an effect. The soaps and detergents are ultimately being washed into the local waterways and polluting the planet in addition to living on your body all the time through the clothing. This one is pretty obvious. Its a simple switch. (Or better yet: make your own!)

7. BIGGER LOADS- wash more clothes at once to reduce the amount of water and energy you are using. Easy.

8. Wash what you NEED to- Don’t wash clothes if they are not dirty. Jeans, coats, and jackets do not need to be washed every time you wear them. If you put on a piece for a few hours and are not sweating or getting dirty its okay to not wash it. Use your judgement.

9. If you have to dry clean: find a GREEN dry cleaner- I do not know the ins and outs of dry cleaning but I know that there are cleaners that are more environmentally friendly than others.

10. REPAIR- if you lose a button in a piece of clothing, get a rip, need a hem, etc. Repair it. YouTube exists! Look up what repair you need to make and then follow a tutorial. EASY! Save money and save your clothes!

I hope these tips have helped! I personally do this and I found that I keep my clothing for YEARS. It’s not that hard to make simple switches and it can even save you money in the long run.

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The Truth: Why It’s Impossible to be 100% Sustainable

I was lucky enough to take a class during the fall semester about ethical and sustainable design and business. The one idea that I found really depressing is that nothing is 100% sustainable. Sure, practices and objects can be better for the environment but lets be real: nothing is perfect.

Without boring my audience (the one reader that I actually have- hey), everything we do and everything we have has a downside. Putting a product aside, the way a company manufactures an item uses energy (for the lights, technology, and process) which releases emissions. After a product is made, transportation to the final destination also plays a role in the emissions of production. So even if a product is 100% sustainable (which, to reiterate, is NOT possible) the manufacturing and transportation alone is harmful.

The sustainability of a product depends on what it is made out of and how it is made; so the carbon footprint or global impact can vary. Sorry. Even products made from recycled materials are harmful because the process of recycling uses energy and frankly can be toxic to the environment as well.

So, I guess, this sucks. However, being aware is vital to the solution of this wicked problem. Try to research the products you are buying and be aware of the impact they have and where they come from. Buy local! Buy used! Or better yet… Don’t buy!!!

 

Brand to Buy: Groceries Apparel

Last summer I was in a boutique and in desperate need of a classic white tshirt I found a crop top in the sale section that I had to get. Later on, I found that this brand is actually sustainable! Who knew?!

This brand is Groceries Apparel and they are a transparent company based out of California. They make all of their pieces in California and support living wages and local manufacturing. Their clothing utilizes organic cotton, recycled plastic, hemp, recycled cotton, vegetable dye, and eucalyptus. All of these products are better alternatives to synthetic and chemical materials. I linked the site manifesto page below.

The prices of the pieces are very reasonable for a staple in your wardrobe. But that is what the brand sells: staples. There is not a huge variety of statement pieces from this brand so if you are looking for something fashion forward this is not the place to go. BUT if you need a killer classic shirt that you can pair with everything then Groceries Apparel will be your holy grail.

Below are how I styles two shirts that I got from them! Check them out!

Brand Grade: A-

https://groceriesapparel.com/pages/about-us

 

 

Thrift Shops: Saving the Planet one Bin at a Time

This should be short and sweet. When I talk to my friends they often complain about how much clothing costs and how they can’t afford anything more expensive than Forever 21 or H&M. This is FALSE. Yes, everyone is in a different financial situation but there is a GREAT alternative that is MORE sustainable than new pieces: THRIFTING/ CONSIGNMENT/ USED! 

The drawbacks: If you’re like me, you can find sorting through clothing stressful and frustrating. Also, wearing someone’s old clothes can be seen as “gross”

The benefits: The clothing is cheaper. The pieces are more unique. Finding treasures can be fun. The clothing is eco-friendly!

So it’s settled: Thrifting is the cheap and better alternative to buying new or breaking your bank. 

How Sustainable Am I?

I get asked a lot how I am sustainable in my own lifestyle. My answer always is: it’s a process. It’s challenging to be completely sustainable in today’s world with all of the products and lack of knowledge we have about environmental issues.

I try to buy from sustainable brands but without a doubt I stay FAR away from fast fashion. I buy a lot less but I buy more of what I love and less of pieces I’m indifferent to. I’m working to have my wardrobe be 100% sustainable but I will repeat my previous statement: It’s a process.

In other respects, I’m trying my best to make good choices for the planet. For the most part I buy food that is better for the environment and not processed. Of course, I do slip up and go out for junk. I also travel a lot which is not a sustainable option.

Here is my point: I’m not perfect. I’m trying to make the best decisions for myself and for the planet. Sometimes its little things like not using plastic, saving materials that can be used later, and only getting what I need. I do not have the most sustainable lifestyle by any means but I try to do the best I can. Once choice at a time, we can all make a difference. It starts with awareness and baby steps and eventually we can all help the planet.

What to do When You’re ‘Done’ With a Piece of Clothing

I purge my closet about twice a year to remove things that don’t make me feel good or that look ratty. I thought I would share with you what I do after I’m done with an article of clothing to minimize the environmental impact. Here are some options:

  1. Think about if you can wear this item for another situation (ex: working out, painting, getting messy, etc)
  2. Sell/Donate any lightly used clothing to thrift stores that could be worn again
  3. Repurpose any clothing in your own life (ex: make a quilt, dish rag, stuffing for a pillow, bag). Be creative!
  4. Repair any clothing if possible to wear again
  5. Minimize the amount being thrown away by only discarding the section of each piece that can not be reused in some way and save/use/donate the rest

There are probably other ideas out there about what to do with your used clothing but these are the five options that I use in my own life. Hope this helps!

Why Cheaper is NOT better

Most of the time price tags are the determining factor of what we buy. People get exited when an article of clothing is on sale or when it costs less than what they expected. The customers think the price tag is too good to be true. Here is the truth: it is.

The cheap clothing is enticing because it is trendy and customers can justify spending on it when they know they can throw it away after wearing it a few times. But what they don’t realize is you get what you pay for. When you spend less than ten dollars on an article, it will get ratty in less than ten washes and you have to throw it out. On the flip side, when you invest in more expensive pieces that you love, you get so much more use out of them and it is better for your wallet and the environment. When customers are stingy they end up spending more to replace the ratty, cheap t-shirt with another one and the endless cycle continues. The stingy customers end up spending more AND harm the environment in the process.

The next time your shopping: look at the long term.

Shopping Tips for a More Sustainable Wardrobe

Tip 1: Skip the trend

Trends go in and out so quickly that people feel the need to go out and spend so they can keep up with whats ‘cool’. The whole idea of being trendy is destroying our planet and your wallet. Companies like H&M, Forever 21, and Zara over produce trendy items that are very bad quality and in less than 10 washes will end up in a dump or the ocean. The fashionista in us then has to go out and replace the trendy shirt with a new one to keep up with the new look. This cycle will continue and we end up spending more on a trend and killing the planet in the process.

Tip 2: Buy what you LOVE

This should be something that people do regularly but you would be surprised how often people buy something because they just want the gratification of having a new piece in their wardrobe. My rule of thumb is that regardless of the price I would still have to have the piece in my wardrobe. Sometimes I even have dreams about clothing and I buy them and wear them after they have holes and need to be replaced. This is how much we should strive to love a piece. We should love it enough to wear it all the time and even after we shouldn’t anymore.

Tip 3: Vote with your dollar

What you wear shows what morals you support. When you shop at places that harm the environment and treat their employees like they are not human beings, you are not only supporting that, but also funding it. The same goes on the flip side: buy from brands that support the same causes that you do. This idea comes down to basic supply and demand. When consumers like us demand products that are sustainable, companies have to supply better products to keep up with the demand. Thus, creating a better cycle and helping the global community in the process.

Tip 4: make sure the product is ‘worth it’

Invest in the quality of the product even if the price is a little higher. Many complain about how people “just pay for the label” but this is inaccurate. You are playing for the quality of the product. Also, the amount of times one wears the item can determine the actual cost. For instance, one can divide the cost of the item by how many times they will wear it and this will show how useful the product will be in their wardrobe. So spending a little more and wearing the item more will be a more sustainable choice in the long run.

Tip 5: Buy used

Buying from used clothing stores, consignment shops, thrift stores, and in the ‘upcycle’ section of brands is a great way to get some new pieces that are sustainable. You are continuing the lifecycle of a product rather than letting it get thrown away. On the upside: the clothing is unique, cheaper, sustainable, and better quality. You can find really cool items that give your wardrobe a unique twist.

 

I really hope this helps! Every choice we make matters!

 

 

Why is the Fashion Industry Unsustainable?

When I start talking about how I want to go into sustainable fashion I typically get a lot of blank stares and questions; it is rare that someone knows the harm their wardrobe does to the planet. I, myself didn’t know two years ago that buying a five dollar t-shirt would cause so much destruction. The fast fashion industry is doing more damage than most people know.

Fast fashion is the concept that an article of  clothing goes from concept to market in as little as three weeks. In order to do this, companies have to overproduce at a low cost to produce a trend quickly. Fast fashion is seen as ‘affordable’ so consumers jump at the idea of a five dollar t-shirt. It seems to work on the consumer and producer ends of the system because consumers get trends quickly and producers make a profit.

Since companies spend little time on pieces, the price of an item is greatly decreased. Consumers enjoy that they can justify buying trendy pieces that they like at a low price and therefore do not need to wear them a lot to make the purchase worthwhile. Another selling point to the idea of fast fashion is that people with a lower budget can look more put together with less money.

Fast fashion is far from beneficial. Fast fashion only really benefits the people at the top of the companies and consumers with a low budget. What consumers and companies don’t know is that fast fashion is harming everyone, even the people it seems to benefit. At the beginning of the cycle, workers in third world countries are overworked for little money and no benefits. The companies can afford to pay employees a decent wage but give them enough to keep them alive and no more. For example, The working conditions are detrimental to the safety of the employees and even when they try to stand up for themselves they are shot down by employers. literally. Workers that do not have safe conditions or do not get a say in the workplace. They get no breaks, unsafe working conditions, long hours, and little to no compensation. Companies do not treat their employees with respect, let alone as humans.

Furthermore, the clothing is produced at such a low cost that the quality is compromised. Companies push down he cost tremendously by not paying workers a lot and cutting other costs with production of products. In order to overproduce items at a very low cost and therefore do not put much energy into each item and make them with a lower quality material. The Environmental Protection Agency explains that “15.1 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2013, of which 12.8 million tons were discarded” and ended up being in dumps without being used. This is due to the poor quality which lasts less than ten washes before it needs to be thrown out and the excess clothing ends up harming the environment.

Additionally, when clothing is discarded, it goes to the ocean, landfill, fire, or dump where they pollute the water, land and air. When transporting the clothing, it requires gas and energy to move the products. The negative environmental impact builds on itself and eventually the planet will suffer because of it. The amount of cheap clothing consumers have or the amount of money the obtained will not help unless they make a change. Consumers who buy cheap clothing do not comprehend that they waste more money replacing the items in their wardrobe that fell apart than buying a more expensive piece that will last longer. This is a financial burden on consumers and eventually adds up. People are consuming faster than they can blink.

Humans and consumerism in today’s society is causing the environment to quickly decline so eventually it will not be able to support life. Citizens consume so quickly so companies produce more to keep up with it. Thus, products ends up in a dump, landfill, or the ocean after being used. The energy and travel industry contribute to climate change and polluting the air to the point of no return. Typically, trees and plants would be able to help clean the air but due to the excessive amount of consumerism, cutting down trees and deforestation to make products harms the environment and eventually ends up contributing to pollution. Everything is connected and humans are getting stuck in an endless cycle where they consume, discard, and thus abuse the environment endlessly. The fashion industry plays a big role in these issues. According to Sofia Minney, The fashion industry is the industry with the second biggest negative environmental impact. Eventually, the environment will not be able to handle the stress and abuse it endures and will no longer be able to support life; at this rate, global destruction is more likely to happen sooner than later.