According to the ABC’s War on Waste, Australians are currently disposing of 6,000 kilos of fashion and textile waste every 10 minutes, and although we’d all love to buy up the latest trends, taking good care of what we already have is a huge step toward lightening the waste load AND will save you a ton of cash!
Before buying new, although it may cost a little more, its important to invest in well-constructed, durable fabrics that last. It can be really helpful to do some research, find out where your clothes are coming from, who made them, what they are made of and read the care instructions so you have the best chance of making a good purchasing choice, caring for each garment, and getting the longest life possible from each piece.
Below you’ll find a list of steps that you can take to get longevity from your clothes during washing. I find that treating each piece with love and respect for the workmanship that went into it and the hard-earned dollars I spent on it can make the process a little less mundane!
- Separate your loads. Darks with darks and lights with lights.
- Set the machine to delicate wash for all knits, linens, and silks.
- Wash polyesters separately and invest in a Guppy Bag or Cora Ball to catch as many microfibers as possible. Be sure to clean out the machine filter every so often.
- Use a gentle detergent or powder and not too much. We have been conditioned to think that the clothes are clean if they smell clean. This is simply not true. Less is more.
- Avoid harsh chemicals such as bleach as these will cause the fabrics to deteriorate.
- Use a garment bag for bras to protect other garments from snagging on hooks.
- Choose the lowest spin cycle and if you have the space, drape the clothes over the line without using pegs.
- Air dry clothes in the shade. Never in the sun as they may fade and shrink. If you must dry in the sun, be sure to turn any denim and linen inside out to prevent fading.
- Put your machine through a rinse cycle every now and then to avoid scum build up. Leave the door or lid of the machine open when not in use to keep dry and free of moisture.
- Give the seal a wipe dry with a clean rag after each or every other use.
Additional sustainability tips:
- Explore the art of natural dying at home for when your pieces do start to look a little tired. Sometimes all they need is a fresh colour to bring life back into them. This is also a great way to change the colour of certain pieces completely! Tops with armpit stains are a perfect example of this. A light piece can easily be changed to navy and you’d never know the stains were there.
- Learn to mend. There is a ton of online tutorials to show you how to darn a sock or fix a hole in the knee of your favourite jeans. If this isn’t up your alley you can always take your garments to a tailor who will mend your pieces for you, for a fraction of the cost to buy a new item.
- Try a clothes Swap. It’s a great way to update your wardrobe without having to buy new.
- Have a quick peek on eBay or Gumtree if you are after something specific. Chances are there is someone else out there who has the same taste as you but just never got a chance to wear that Jacket or pair of shoes.
- Rent for special occasions. A new trend is emerging within sustainable fashion circles, which is the option to rent an outfit for a special occasion. Often, we wear these pieces once and then they sit in the back of the closet so why not pay a portion of the price, enjoy it, and then give it back!
Natural Laundry Cream – for general laundry (up to 60 washes):
Add 2 tablespoons Soda ash to 500ml All-in-1 Concentrate and 1-2 teaspoons of essential oils of choice (Lavender or Eucalytpus highly recommended). Whisk together to form a yogurt like consistency. Be careful not to over mix as the mixture will separate.
Front loader – 1/2 tablespoon to full soiled load
Top loader – 1 tablespoon to full soiled load
For Hand washing wool and delicates – Add 1/4 cup of concentrate to 5 litres of water
Stain removal – Rub concentrate into stain and leave for at least 5 mins before washing