Guys, we hate to break it to you but it’s time to ditch the dry cleaners and the daily wash. Ethical fashion designers are coming together to challenge the ways we wash our clothes. Our clothing labels were designed in the 1950s, isn’t it a time we took a new look at how we do our washing?
It’s not just about washing at a lower temperature, it’s about how we care for our clothes to make them last longer and thinking about how much we need to wash them at all.
Get ready to be liberated from your washing machine and those old-fashioned clothing labels no one understands. When we’re thinking about slow fashion and creating a more ethical fashion industry, it’s easy to forget that the process doesn’t end when the clothes are hanging in our wardrobe. 25% of fashion’s carbon footprint comes from us washing the stuff we already have.
An average washing machine stuck on two or three times a week will produce around 51kg of CO2 a year. And don’t get us started on dry cleaning. We know it’s easy and it feels ever so slightly glamorous and the on-demand economy practically demands that we outsource every domestic function, but stop and think for a second, asides from the chemicals and energy used – do you really need to wash something every time you wear it?
We consume 400% more fast fashion that we did in the 1990s – and over 80% ends up dumped in landfills
Overwashing fast fashion clothes means they don’t last as long – and as fast as collections are walking the catwalks, last season’s clothes are being sported by landfills. We consume 400% more fast fashion that we did in the 1990s – and over 80% ends up dumped in landfills.
New campaign, Don’t Overwash, has brought together amazing sustainable fashion designers from all over Europe to create clothes that need less looking after and that challenge the idea that delicate clothes need to be dry cleaned. Most clothes that need dry cleaning can be washed in cold water – the Dry Cleaning label is often there to protect manufacturers who don’t want to spend the time creating clothes that will last.
We speak to the designers involved to get their common sense top tips for ethical, eco-friendly washing. And let’s face it, the less domestic chores a week the better. We can’t be the only ones who feel vindicated in hardly ever washing our jeans?
Han Ates, Blackhorse Lane Jeans, London
What’s the most eco-friendly way to wash jeans?
“Try and wait six months before machine washing your jeans. This will create creases in the jeans that will become beautiful fades over time. If not possible, soaking in a bucket or in the bath will partially clean the jeans with minimal impact to fading.
Remember, indigo will bleed, so never wash with light coloured items. You can roll your washed jeans in a dark towel to remove excess water, then hang dry.
Stine Ladefoged, Denmark
Why is wool the best fabric to work with from a sustainable angle?
Wool is amazing. Wool is grown not made, every year the sheep grow a new fleece. Wool yarn also use less energy than man-made fibres during manufacture. Wool can be machine-washed, but it retains a small amount of natural oil which resists dirt and grease, and therefore you don’t need to wash often.
Doriane van Overeem, Belgium
“Because it’s the easy fast way to label clothes and avoid testing materials. And this project proves that care labels’ instructions are old fashioned and should be updated now we have appropriate washing machines.”
How would you recommend washing delicate fabrics?
I would recommend to simply wash in a short cold washing cycle. It’s untrue to think it’s better to wash it by hand because there is a greater risk of deforming and damaging the fabric.
Tim Labenda, Germany
What’s the best way to to wash wool?
I personally think, the best way to wash wool, is to not over wash it. Usually it’s totally enough to hang it out and steam it or air to get rid of the smell.
Tom Cridland, UK
What’s the best way to make your clothes last longer?
An important part of making your clothes last longer is your choice of clothing in the first place. I always advocate buying less but buying better. Our 30 Year Collection, for example, is extremely durable, unlike the equivalent sweatshirts, t-shirts and other wardrobe staples found at fast fashion retailers. If you choose to invest in clothing of this quality you’ll look smarter, save money in terms of cost per wear and not contribute to the vast amount of fast fashion clothing that ends up in landfill every year after it gets quickly worn out. The Care Label Project is an extremely admirable endeavour that supports our philosophy, as washing clothing properly and not too often is crucial to making it last.
Pebble is a sustainable living magazine covering lifestyle stories that inspire to live in a better world, be it sustainable fashion, design, slow food or eco-travels.