An important aspect of sustainable fashion is considering how we, as consumers, can play a role in creating a better fashion industry. By simply taking care of your clothing, you will not only become more mindful about your clothing purchases, but you will be able to extend the life of your clothes and even strengthen your sustainability practices. Your everyday actions add up to make a huge difference for your closet and for the earth. Challenge yourself to try these easy tricks and learn to take proper care of your clothing.
- Wash Less
Increase the time between washes. This means only throwing clothes in the washing machine when they are dirty. Avoid overwashing and consider alternating outfits so that the pieces are not overused too quickly. Denim and woolens can actually be damaged when they are washed too frequently. Wash your jeans once a month and hang wet clothes in the bathroom while you take a hot shower to keep them fresh for longer.
- Wash with Intention
How you wash your clothes plays an important role in keeping them in great condition for longer. Always wash clothing inside out with like colors and in cold water – this will help extend the life of your clothes. Try to empty out pockets before washing as loose papers and tissue can damage clothing. Don’t overload your machine and don’t mix different fabric types together either. It certainly may be easy to mix all your colored, patterned clothing together but that will reduce the color, quality, and longevity of your favorite clothes.
Also, consider the following:
- Separate clothing by color, knit, and delicacy: You certainly don’t want your favorite white dress to turn into a mess of pinks and purples. This will require some time and energy, but the payoff will be worth it (for both your wallet and the planet!).
- Divide your laundry into five general colors: Whites, pastels, medium-toned garments, brights, and darks.
- Separate the dirtiest: Wash the dirtiest together to prevent extra grime from transferring to your other clothes.
- Wash by hand: For delicates including underwear, intimates, and swimwear, wash them by hand in a sink with cold water, and then hang them to dry.
- Use mesh bags: This will help protect delicate clothing in the laundry machine as it prevents snags and tears. It only takes seconds to put your delicates in these bags and you can find them in your local dollar store.
- Use soft laundry detergent: This will reduce the impact of chemicals on your garments.
- Read Care Labels
Take the time to read the care label found on clothing. Every piece is unique and has different needs, and therefore will have to be taken care of carefully and individually. Care labels will help guide you through the process of best laundry options. Check the soft, white fabric tag on the side of the garment for its symbol information, which will suggest the best cycle, water temperature, wash procedures, and precautions to take. Get familiar with the symbols and read them before washing your clothing.
- Dry with Intention
Adopting small practices will help your garments last longer, such as taking a moment to zip them up, doing up any buttons, and making sure there is nothing in the pockets. You never know what will catch or snag during the drying process. All the while, try not to overdry your clothing – this will be both tough on your garments and on your electric bill. Instead, use the lowest heat setting on your dryer and put on alarms to take out your clothing when it’s time.
Removing the dryer lint from the load is another quick way to avoid damaging your clothing as it will reduce the static. Avoid using dryer sheets as they are harmful to the environment. Use a drying rack instead if you have the space as it will help you save energy. The only downside is that clothing will take more time to dry.
- Shop with Love
Shop for things you truly need and love. This will help you make a connection with your clothes which will make you want to take better care of them. The next time you enter a store, think about why you want the garment/accessory, how it fits in your existing wardrobe, and how you intend to take care of it. This is important to ensure you keep the piece for years.
It helps if you buy good-quality clothing since it will hold up better and for longer. However, it can be more expensive to buy quality pieces, so try to find items you love at accessible price points for your lifestyle. If you want to add essentials to your closet, make a list of what is missing and the reasons why you need or want them. This will help clarify your needs versus your desires. Anything you no longer want should be given to friends, family, or local thrift stores.
Shopping second-hand is a great way to help your local community, reduce the negative social and environmental impact that comes from fashion consumption and build a cool closet you’ll want to keep for longer!
Written by: Elle Magana Mireles