Caring for your clothing – washing it, drying it, ironing it or having it professionally dry-cleaned – both enables you to get use out of your clothes, while at the same time contributing to their deterioration.
Confused by those mysterious symbols which are supposed to show how you should care for your garment? You’re not alone. But understanding what they mean can significantly decrease the speed of this deterioration AND heavily reduce your carbon footprint.
Helpfully, there’s actually an organization dedicated to developing a harmonized worldwide care labeling standard, GINETEX. Who knew? Since 2014, H&M – a brand associated with fast fashion rather than having an eye on sustainability – has collaborated with GINETEX to have all of its clothing market with the Clevercare label, in an effort to encourage their customers to look after their clothes in a more environmentally friendly way. The Clevercare system encourages washing clothes less frequently, at lower temperatures, with less frequent use of the tumble dryer or iron.
Seems easy, right?
More and more, consumers are encouraged to reuse, recycle and reduce. But what about the concept of “redefining clean”? This requires the consumer to ignore all those television commercials for laundry detergents, and think – do I really need to wash this? It doesn’t smell, there’s no noticeable dirt on it and actually, I can simply put it on a hanger and air it out, ready for a few more uses. As for small stains, reconsider whether these make the garment “dirty” or can in fact be spot cleaned, using a fraction of the water which would be used washing the whole item. And when it comes to ironing, save yourself the hassle and just hang the item up in the bathroom while having a shower – the steam will do the rest!
It’s no secret that the fashion industry is a major source producer of carbon emissions, and the rise of “fast fashion” has only made this worse. Quite rightly, the focus is on changing consumer behavior by encouraging consumers to buy from ethical and sustainable brands. Alongside this there must be a drive to improve consumer understanding of proper garment care and to have consumers think twice about chucking that “dirty” jumper into a hot wash!
Share your washing and laundry habits, tell us if you think you can “redefine clean” and if you have any other carbon-footprint-reducing laundry hacks!