The humble cotton t-shirt. You probably own two or three at least, it is a wardrobe staple after all.
But, when you think about all of the resources that go into production - from harvesting the cotton, spinning the yarn and knitting the fabric to dying, washing and transporting to stores around the globe - it’s not surprising that clothing has the 4th largest environmental impact after housing, transport and food.
One of the things we can do – other than obviously not buying loads more new stuff – is to extend the life of the clothes that we already have. It’s estimated that just three months of extra active use can lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints.
So, what practical steps can we take? Here are our top tips for keeping your clothes looking new...
Clothing has the 4th largest environmental impact after housing, transport and food.
Cleaning up your act
When it comes to woolens, try not to wash them too often and always wash in cold water. Bobbling and pilling can make jumpers look old before their time so zipping or buttoning them up and turning them inside out can help to prevent this.
Read care labels. They know their stuff. Think you know your labels? Try this little quiz from ‘Love Your Clothes’.
Get some fresh air
Tumble dryers not only use energy, but also cause wear and tear on your clothes so try to air dry where you can and hang up items to stop the creases (using wooden hangers or pegs of course). Knitwear can be tricky, so dry flat to avoid stretching.
Let’s iron out the details
Do your bedsheets really need a press? They’re only going to get slept in, it’s not like they’re going on a night out. You’ll also often find that light creases will drop out of things like t-shirts by body heat alone as if by magic.
Only iron if really necessary - you could try hanging clothes up in the shower instead to steam out the creases.
Maintenance and care of your clothes
Remove stains as soon as possible to try and avoid permanent damage - ‘Love Your Clothes’ has some ideas for getting rid of all sorts of stains from curry sauce to lipstick.
If there’s no coming back from the stain, or it’s looking worn and faded you could try dying your clothing to bring it back to life.
If you’ve not been turning jumpers inside out during washing, chances are you’ll have to de-bobble them. It’s easier than it sounds, just Google ‘Bobble remover’ and you’ll get a list of tools for the job.
Small steps can make a big dent in the piles of clothing that end up in landfill every year.
Make simple repairs
Replacing missing buttons or taking up a hem are quick ways to keep clothes in action for longer. Hemming can be done by sewing, but if you’re not a whizz with a needle you can use adhesive hemming tape which just needs ironing on.
Repairs don’t have to be perfect - visible mending can be fun and really easy to do. And if you don’t think you can carry out the repairs, visit a repair café or shop.
Each of these steps is small but, if we all take these simple measures, we can do our bit for the environment by making a big dent in the piles of clothing that end up in landfill every year and save ourselves some money while we’re at it.
What can you do?
Clothing repairs don’t have to be perfect - get creative with visible mending!
Wash jumpers inside out to help prevent bobbling
Try to air dry washing if you can
Hang up clothes in the shower to steam out the creases