HELPSY VOICES: wellness, ethical fashion, sustainability, stories and awesome life advice from real people: clothes washing

A Healthy Closet: Sustainable Fashion is More Than Buying Sustainably

By Rachel Kibbe

A Healthy Closet: Sustainable Fashion is More Than Buying Sustainably

 I use these lingerie mists from Little Shop Of Oils to extend the life of my handmade delicates by spraying in-between washes 

By Mary Imgrund               

               According to Fashion Revolution, just doubling the lifespan of your clothes from one to two years reduces emissions by 24%.  If you’re not familiar with the Fashion Revolution and Fashion Revolution Day, you should visit their page to learn more about their mission to ask the fast fashion industry “who made my clothes?”. Ethical fashion is more than just buying second hand or from sustainable sources. It’s as much about investing in pieces that are both well made, fit you great, and that you really enjoy wearing. The discipline of learning to only buy what you love, feel confidant it and will use over and over is difficult, especially when the industry churns out trends directly markets to our “need it now” appetite. It's also very liberating to have a super organized closet and to know what you own so you don't buy the same things over and over. But once you do learn to “Buy less. Choose well.”, the other huge part of sustainable fashion is preserving your clothing as long as possible.  After all, finding that perfect dress might take months of looking, and you’ll want to make it last.

                  The first step is finding a good place to have your pieces hemmed, taken in, and altered. Replacing a button or having a coat re-lined is more sustainable (and cost effective) than purchasing new items, and a timely hem can save you from ruining skirts. I’ve gone to both high and low-end tailors and I haven’t seen a noticeable difference in quality, though I do still take more substantial work to the more expensive tailor because I feel I have more recourse if I dislike the results.

Hang Dry Clothes Hanging your clothes to dry isn't just sustainable, it is more gentle on your clothes 

                  Reconsider your clothes washing and drying habits. Avoid the drier! This not only saves energy but it is so much easier on your clothes. Most of your clothing probably prefers to be washed delicately, anyway. Most lingerie should be hand washed or washed on delicate in a garment bag. Any garment that has built in stretch from spandex (most underwear, many jeans, all stretch pants, check your tags!!) will degrade quickly and lose shape from being put through a dry cycle. Most jeans and other pants can go more than a few wears before washing and should be air-dried. Try to avoid washing as long as possible, then use the coldest wash and lowest dry necessary. Many people think light colors need to be washed in heat and lights and darks need to be separated. This is just not true. If a dark item is brand new, by all means DO separate it from lights. But If a dark item has been washed many times, it can go in with the lights without staining them. All colors can be washed with cold water, saving exponential amounts of energy and getting clothes just as clean. Almost 90% of energy from washers goes into heating the water! Most things can and should be air-dried, with exceptions towels or other items that become stiff when air-drying or take too long to dry in humid climates and get mildew-y.


Shoe Care

Take care of your shoes using professional cleaning and treating products  

                 Store your clothing with care! This means investing in good hangers with a slight grip such as the ones with velvet or cloth. This keeps the clothes from sliding around, stretching out, and putting unnecessary strain on straps. Also, don’t over-stuff your closet: clothes need room to breath. When stored in crowded circumstances, they’ll more easily catch on each other and pill. Shoes should be kept in their boxes to help keep them dust and scuff free. Also, invest in garment bags and moth protection. Moths LOVE wool, cashmere, alpaca and they will eat tiny holes in your garments, ruining them. Buy mothballs, or the less odor offensive cedar blocks, put them in the bottom of your garment bags, zip them up and hope for the best!

                Basically, you should baby your clothes. Treat them well, and they’ll love you for years. Clothes that fit you, speak to your personal style, and that are made to last are key to a minimalist wardrobe. Owning less clothing makes you not only love and appreciate what you do have, without all that cramming and overflowing, you’ll actually physically be able to see what you own! Knowing and loving what you own will help you be much more considerate when you go to add new pieces.

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