When we talk about our carbon footprint, we often think of using public transport, walking instead of getting in the car, reducing water usage, switching the lights off, cutting down on plastic usage. How often do we think of the contents of our wardrobe? From how our clothing was made, to how we care for it on a daily basis, and how we part with it. Clothes are becoming one of the most environmentally toxic products we currently use and dispose of. From harsh chemicals used in processing, to micro-plastics in the wash, and chemicals entering the ecosystem via our washing machines. And right to the end of your cherished shirts life – which may well be a landfill.
So, here are three things you can start doing today that can have a huge impact on reducing that carbon footprint right down…
1. Buy more natural fabrics..
…including organic cotton, tencel, bamboo and hemp.
Unless organic, cotton farming is anything but natural, due to genetic modification, intensive land management and the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
Organic cotton production on the other hand is free from the use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides (helps farmers health as well as promoting soil fertility), supports sustainable land use, is more water efficient and usually fairly traded.
Tencel is a cellulose fibre, derived from wood pulp, and is made by an environmentally responsible company, the Lenzing Group.
Bamboo and hemp are two other wonderfully sustainable and natural resources, which make beautiful soft clothing. Clothes made from these fabrics are not washed in huge chemical vats, bleached and dyed. All of these toxic chemicals end up in the environment.
What’s more, these fabrics are completely free from plastics. Every time you wash a polyester, or similar man-made fabric, micro particles of plastic are washing into the ecosystem (much like micro-beads in toiletries).
2. Wash Cooler, Wash Less
We all know that washing at 30 degrees still gives us perfectly clean clothes, we’ve been doing it for years now, but we could be washing certain clothes too often.
Many denim experts actually recommend that you should NEVER wash your jeans. But if this is too unhygienic for you to bear, you can see how easy it would be to perhaps only wash every few months, or when they are actually dirty.
I wash things like underwear after every wash, but there are many things like jumpers and cardigans that can get several wears, and even trousers and t-shirts can go a couple of wears.
I’m not suggesting you go around smelling bad, but try to stretch out how long some of your clothes last before washing. You’ll extend the life of your clothes, and save yourself some washing time too!
3. Wash Cleaner…
So, your wardrobe is full of natural fabrics, you’re washing your jeans once a year, and washing at 30 degrees, but are you using chemicals to get your gear clean? Many artificial ingredients in standard laundry detergents kill fish and plant life when they get into the ecosystem, caused skin irritation and allergies, and use up crazy amounts of water up in attempts to purify the water at sewage plants.
There are so many wonderful, natural brands out there now, whose aim is to help you keep your clothes clean, whilst reducing the impacts on the environment, and my favourite is Bio-D, an independent and ethical (scores high on Ethical Consumer), UK based company who believe that we can clean our homes and our laundry without the need of harsh chemicals, and at no cost to the planet.
Bio-D leave out all of those nasty allergy inducing, fish poisoning, environment polluting ingredients to make an effective, cruelty free and vegan range which will make you feel good about cleaning the clothes and reduce your impact right down. Their packaging is refillable, recyclable and made in the most environmentally friendly ways. They’ll also save your pennies, as well as your carbon footprint…
I really hope you’ve found these tips useful. With just a few changes, you can be well on your way to saving the planet.
Thanks for reading Monsoon of Random, as featured in Ethical Consumer Magazine: