5 Eco-friendly ways to extend the life of garments

Doing laundry is not my favorite chore. Like ironing and cleaning the bathroom, it is just dreadful! As a yoga teacher it is quite easy to spend the entire day in your yoga clothes because they are so darn comfortable. Therefore, in my spare time I really try (emphasis on ‘try’) to wear regular clothes. As a result I have found that the amount of dirty laundry that I accumulate is quite astonishing. So, what can I do to reduce the impact so much washing & drying has on our environment? Further more, how do I extend the life of my garments?

Here are the top 5 things you can do to keep your clothes and the environment in perfect harmony:

  1. Wash your clothes ONLY when necessary-I know, I know… trust me, 9 out of 10 times, my yoga clothes need to go straight to the washer. However, I noticed that when I teach or do a slow flow class I barely break a sweat. Then, why wash the clothes? Unless there is a visible stain on it, air it out and wear it more than once.  An article from the Huffington Post regarding fashion and sustainability reveals that the largest environmental impact of a garment is not in the production or shipping, but in the carbon footprint produce by laundering the clothes.  The truth is the less you wash your clothes, the more they last and the less impact it will have on the environment.
  2. Choose the right detergent-This is a very important step in avoiding environmental pollution. This is a difficult step since companies are not required to list the ingredients on the container. Some of the harmful ingredients are surfactant nonylphenol ethoxylate or NPE, phosphates and bleach. In order to avoid these ingredients start by choosing detergents without dyes, such as those recommended for washing baby clothes. If its gentle enough for a baby, its likely to be gentle enough for the Earth. Some eco-friendly detergents I found during research were Seventh Generation, Biokleen, Planet, Method and Ecos.  Remember to take into consideration the water temperature as another step in sustainability. Whenever possible, use cold water. There are detergents especially designed for cold water like Tide Free for Coldwater.  You will save energy and money on your bill.  For optimum savings try making your own detergent by adding baking powder or vinegar to your water.
  3. Hand wash-Did you know that when using a traditional washer you use approximately 41 gallons of water? Those are the estimates offered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Once you have chosen the right detergent, the most effective method to save water and energy while extending the life of your clothes is to hand wash them.  You can do it in your sink, a bucket or your tub.  A more creative idea?  Jump in the shower with your clothes on!  You can wash and rinse them while you shower.  Just hang then afterwards to air dry.  I love two for ones!
  4. Avoid over dry-cleaning-My first advice is to avoid dry-clean only clothes altogether, but if you must buy that ‘oh so fantastic garb’, I have some advice. First, opt for a ‘Green’ Dry-cleaner. Traditional dry-cleaners use perchloroethylene which is bad for your health and the planet. In addition, after many dry-cleans your outfit might start looking a bit ‘overprocessed’. Try ironing them inside out or use a product like Dryel, made especially for dry-clean only clothes.  It gets rid of wrinkles, odors and stains.

  5. Store properly-When you have used an outfit once, I recommend airing it before storing it and applying some home made fabric refresher. Another tip is that you want to keep your garments away from insects and humidity, especially if you are storing them for an extended period of time. Therefore, avoid using plastic and/or the basement to store them. Use a zipped up breathable garment bag instead and always make sure your clothes are clean before putting them away for a long time.

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