"Extending the average lifespan of clothes would lead to reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints" — WRAP report
Keeping your clothes for longer using the right washing practices can help to dramatically reduce the emissions that occur during a piece of clothing's life cycle. According to statistics, extending the active life of a piece of clothing by just nine months can significantly reduce its environmental impact, while the emissions of a piece of clothing can be reduced by 24% over the year by doubling its useful life from one to two years.
The following suggestions are simple ways to reduce water usage, conserve energy, and promote a cruelty-free and conscious state of mind during the laundry.
1. Wash less
Washing garments too often can actually cause damage to the fibers and hence decrease the lifespan. If an item isn't really dirty but just needs freshening up, you can try hanging it outside with fresh air or in a steamy bathroom to breathe first. If an item has a small spot but overall it is not dirty, just try to clean up only that piece. You will definitely just profit out of it saving water, energy, and time! For example, according to The United Nations Environment Programme, you can save up to five times more energy by wearing a pair of jeans at least three times, washing them in cold water, and drying naturally or avoiding the iron.
2. Use only natural laundry detergents according to fabrics
Different textile needs to be washed in different ways, always check the instructions on the label before washing! For example, wool must be washed only when needed, using a specific wool detergent on a handwash. Cashmere and silk are the easiest to get damaged by harsh chemicals and heat. There are already a huge number of eco-laundry products on the market, and this amount is growing every year. Try to use cleaners that are made from natural, biodegradable, plant-derived ingredients.
You can also do-it-yourself! Laundry soap is made of ingredients that can easily be found at a grocery store, like soda, soap bar (you will need to shave it), and any essential oil (my favorite is lavender). The best benefit of it is that you will know precisely what is inside your detergent, so it is 100% natural without any toxic ingredients and tests on animals!
3. Wash at low temperatures
It is always better to wash clothes at a low temperature with natural gentle detergents. It can help to keep the fabric clean and soft, and reduce unnecessary emissions, up to 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes goes to heating water! When the cloth is really dirty, just pre-soak it in cold water for about an hour with few tablespoons of baking soda (it will work out pretty well).
Surely there are items, which are better to watch at higher temperatures, such as those that are in close contact with your skin, such as underwear and towels.
4. Other recommendations
You can try laundry egg, which replaces both traditional laundry detergent and fabric conditioner. It simply pops in the washing machine drum with the clothes. You can read more tips for eco-friendly home here.
Forget about dry cleaning, which is a highly chemical-intensive process that has negative environmental impacts and can have a negative effect on textiles fibers and consumers' skin. Wash inside out to avoid friction and damage the fibers. Air dry is always better for cloth instead of tumble drying, which causes overuse of energy and damage for certain fibers.
Store all clothes in a cool and dry space and avoid direct sunlight and any heat.
If you need to bring an item to the nearest laundry in your city, try choosing the one which uses eco-friendly practices.
What many of us do not realize is that the hard ingredients of our detergents or personal cleaning products are systematically poisoning our environment with chemicals.
However, this is not the only issue we are currently facing. Almost all of our clothes are made from synthetic fibers, and when they are washed, microplastic get released out into our rivers, lakes and oceans, where they cause the greatest damage. The suggestion here is to use washing machine filters that capture microplastics. You can read more about it here.