Reducing my use of single use plastics has been a huge driver for me over the last 12 months, and while that is all good and dandy as a fashion focused blogger how can I be more aware of how what I wear impacts the earth? Because it does.
This earth day post is all about the impact clothes and the fashion industry have on our precious blue and green planet.
Did you know all that polyester you wear will never break down into anything else other than smaller versions of what it is right now, they will become microfibers that will remain on earth forever. (https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jun/29/microfibers-plastic-pollution-apparel-oceans) These tiny microfibers will pollute our water systems and air, increasing the death of ocean life and proliferating the effects of climate change.
Then there’s the carbon footprint from when clothes are produced from fibers, grown and then fabricated into textiles in factories and the carbon footprint of us caring for our clothes. The fashion industry produces 10% of the global greenhouse emissions annually. (https://unfccc.int/news/un-helps-fashion-industry-shift-to-low-carbon) When consumers choose to buy less, there is a ripple effect. Less items are manufactured, and less items are thrown away (also an issue with fashion impacting the planet).
It’s true that we don’t need to wash our clothes as often as we’ve been told. The rule in our house is to wear tops and pants and dresses at least twice before washing. In between washes we spot clean, and we fully wash garments when they are smelly, or visibly stained. Denim can go for several weeks without being washed, it’s better to spot clean your jeans and if you need to tighten up the fibers, toss in the dryer for 10 minutes on low. The washing machine is your jeans worst enemy. We always wash on cold and dry at low heat, and when possible air dry. We use the air cycle on the dryer to soften up stiff clothes as needed.
Wondering what we wash weekly? Underwear, athletic wear, and pet blankets. I wash sheets and towels biweekly, and I wash tops, pants, and dresses usually once a month or as needed, typically more often in the summer when we get sweaty. I also wash denim by itself, and tops/dresses together. (I prefer to sort by knit/woven then by color). Most tops, dresses, and pants air dry, and due to the dry air here in Colorado our clothes tend to dry rather quickly and it helps my clothes last longer.
I know it’s a popular trend to toss in a small load of wash daily to avoid a full blown day of laundry on the weekends. I also understand our style of washing and caring for our clothes is not easy with children. You have to do what is best for you, while understanding the effects.
As I’m writing this, I’m on my 3rd load of laundry this week. Travis got some new clothes, plus I needed to wash sheets, and the cat vomited on the dog bed, so 3 separate loads.
Another impact fashion makes on our planet is the amount of textile waste we create. This fast fashion cycle means we are buying more clothes, more often, wearing them less, and then discarding them. The choice here is hard, throwing away should be the last option, how else can you use that old tee shirt? Can we donate it? There are a lot of second hand options out there from Poshmark, to ThreadUp as well as your local thift stores. Can you repair and rewear? Or is the damage so bad that it needs to be repurposed?
I recently realized our favorite pair of sheets, had a HUGE hole in them. I bought them 5+ years ago and I was so sad when my husband casually mentioned putting his foot through our fitted sheet. The hole was beyond repair, but we have a quilting group at our church that reuses old bedding and fabric scraps to make comforters for people in need around the world. And they can use my holey fitted sheet to make a blanket for someone.
I’ve used old tee-shirts for rags in the kitchen, made toys for the dog, made tee-shirts for my dog, and even blankets from tee shirts. Reusing provides a once damaged textile item, new life and keeps it from our landfills.