The effects of clothing production have been part of the conversation about saving the environment. The fashion industry—especially fast fashion—is one of the most significant contributors to carbon emissions from the farming of cotton to the transportation of garments to different stores. However, what consumers don’t often realize is that clothes continue to harm the environment as humans use them. We should be mindful of the way we handle our clothes.
The critical element of clothes care is laundry. It keeps the clothes clean and smelling fresh. It also washes of microbes from sweat and pollution. We throw clothes in the washing machine, add laundry detergent and fabric conditioner, place them in the dryer, and iron them. This whole process includes harmful chemicals and a lot of energy and water, leading to more carbon footprint.
The problem: laundry
Laundering our clothes is usually part of the weekly routine, but the thing is: it’s not very eco-friendly. Laundry detergents alone contain harmful chemicals that infiltrate bodies of water and cause further water pollution. A typical ingredient is phosphates, which hinder marine life from getting enough oxygen.
Harmful chemicals aren’t the only problem, though, because even if we take laundry detergents out of the equation, microplastics from synthetic fabrics pollute the water. These microplastics eventually end up in the ocean, creating a more toxic habitat for marine life.
The solution: fewer laundry days
Washing our clothes less can avoid harmful chemicals going in waterways and microplastics from entering the ocean. There will also be less water and energy consumption on our part. According to Clean Home Guide, “Washing and drying a 5 kg load of laundry every two days creates nearly 440 kg of carbon dioxide emissions in a year.” By waiting a week between doing laundry of the same load, we can lessen our carbon footprints.
One way to ensure that you don’t go over the 5kg load is by wearing the same clothes more than once. In reality, no one pays attention if you have the same clothes—provided they don’t smell bad. Washing clothes less will help them last longer because they experience less friction, the colors won’t get washed out, and they experience fewer changes in temperature.
Pro-tip: Choose to air-dry clothes.
Annually, a clothes dryer consumes up to 950kWh. Aside from this, dryers cause lint to build up in air vents. This build-up can be a serious fire hazard, too, which is why dryer vent cleaning in Nashville should be part of the house cleaning routine.
In retrospect, air-drying clothes will save a considerable chunk of electricity while preventing creases. Because clothes are freely-hung, the creases could eventually become less noticeable. Ironing may not be necessary afterward.
Don’t forget to be mindful of everyday practices.
Mindful consumption does not just stop at the store. It carries on to our every action. When you think of it, constant laundering is not entirely necessary. Clothes with no stains and don’t stink can still be used again. No one will notice those dark-colored jeans that have been unwashed for a month. Lesser visits to the laundromat or seeing your washing machine less could help you save the environment.