It’s time to turn ‘washing smart’ into an art.
It might be news to you – but did you know that 20% of an item of clothing’s environmental emissions are generated after its purchase? So there’s huge potential to reduce your personal energy and water use, and therefore your environmental footprint, by simply greening your laundry habits.
According to data shared by Procter & Gamble, a thoughtful laundry regime can make your wardrobe staples last four times as long. In a 2017 report issued by WRAP in the UK, quadrupling the life of a single basket of laundry can save over 230kg of CO2 of emissions, which is equal to driving 600 miles!
When you buy your pre-loved clothes from b.kinda we check their condition and ensure that we send you the very best we can. From changing when you do the washing to turning the temperature of your wash down, we’ve put together some useful tips and tricks to make your laundry time as effective as possible and the impact on your clothes far less, so that you can re-love them again and again and again.
1. Wash less and use alternatives
The first and most important tip for sustainable clothing care is to wash your clothes less. With a few exceptions, such as underwear or sweaty items, this of course makes sense. There are other ways to freshen up your clothes. For example, you can pop your jeans in the freezer for 24 hours, it will kill off bacteria causing smells and help your retain their shape and colour!
A 15 minute whirl in a tumble drier to freshen up a musty jumper will also use less energy than bunging it in the wash.
2. Wash cold
In the UK, it has been reported that over 11% of emissions in the household come from washing machines. Turn your machine down to 30 degrees to save up to 60% your carbon footprint (yes, really) with each wash.
Warmer water is much harder on fabrics and can cause shrinkage, fading and loss of microfibres. Per wash, an average of 9 million plastic microfibres are released into the environment, so turning the dial down to 30 degrees can help mitigate this. Plus, heating water uses 90% of the energy needed to run a washing machine!
3. Reduce your micro-plastics
Many of our clothes contain plastics like polyester, nylon, acrylic and polyamide. In fact, most new fabrics are made of plastic – up to 64% of them. The thing is, every time we wash these materials they shed millions of plastic microfibres. Threads so small they can drain out of our washing machines and pass straight through wastewater treatment plants into the sea. It gets worse. Once in our oceans, they can absorb nasty chemicals. Disturbingly, sea creatures are eating these toxic fibres, potentially passing them up the food chain. Some studies have found them in seafood like mussels.
But I bet you didn’t know that many laundry detergents and conditioners also contain micro-plastics? They’re usually in the form of either ‘optical brighteners’ or ‘micro-encapsulated’ fragrances that allows brands to put their fragrances into tiny little balls that stick to your laundry and when dry, they break, giving off a lasting scent. But those little balls, are made of plastic! and there’s no way they’re going to get recycled.
4. Care instructions
To care for your clothes properly, you first need to know what material you are dealing with. After all, different fabrics have different care instructions. So get into the habit of looking at the labels on your clothes before you buy and wash them. This will not only make you more mindful of what you consume and lead you to buy higher quality items, but will also ensure that your clothes are not damaged or shrunk by improper care and washing.
5. Be mindful of fabric conditioner
Commercial fabric softeners are quite easily the least eco-friendly laundry products out there. Make sure to use a high-quality softener that isn’t full of animal fats. Many contain palm oil and a whole host of additives, including fillers, that are not biodegradable and that can even be harmful to your health.
6. Air dry
There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly washed, air-dried laundry when you take it off the clothesline. And air drying not only smells good, it is also better for the clothes and the environment. Drying in a tumble dryer consumes a lot of energy and, like frequent washing at high temperatures, can damage certain fibres. Instead, it is sufficient to shake out the freshly washed clothes and either hang them outside on a clothesline, on a clothes rack or on hangers to air dry.
7. Store clothes properly
Store clothes in a cool, dry place to protect them from moisture, sunlight and heat. Also, make sure (especially if you’re saving on washes) that clothes are clean before you put them away. Dirt and surface abrasion can attract moths, which can ruin your clothes. It is also important not to overflow your wardrobe, as clothes need room to breathe – this prevents creasing and colour loss from clothes rubbing together. If you have too many clothes – donate them to charity!