Every year, each person on the planet discards nearly 10kg of textiles, and much of it is due to clothing getting worn out too soon. And why are our clothes not lasting nearly as long as they should? Because the quality of our garments have significantly decreased – as a result of the fast fashion industry prioritizing quantity over quality – on top of being washed too often, leading to faster wear and tear altogether.
The way we take care of our clothing can really affect their lifetime. Studies show that approximately 2/3 of the environmental footprint of a piece of clothing comes from consumer use. Meaning that how we wash and care for our garments, and how often we wash them, can make a big difference when it comes to maintaining the quality as well as environmental impacts such as carbon dioxide emissions, water usage, and textile waste.
“25% of the carbon footprint of a garment comes from the way we care for it. On top of that, 90% of our clothing is thrown away long before it needs to be, due to our culture of ‘fast fashion’ and outdated laundry habits.” – Fashion Revolution
What are the benefits of doing laundry less often?
- Lower water usage
- Lower electricity usage
- Less laundry products
- Less water pollution
- Clothes last longer
- It’s cheaper
- More free time
Overwashing not only ruins the quality of clothing much faster, but also causes great harm to the environment. It’s all fairly self-explanatory. The more we wash our garments, the faster dye fades, fabric thins and loses shape, and fibres become loose and torn. These dyes and fibres then end up in our natural environment as waste and pollution.
Based on Levi’s consumer use findings, washing every 10 times a product is worn instead of every 2 times reduces energy use, climate change impact, and water intake by up to 80%. Washing less saves water and energy, reduces CO2 and the amount of microplastics entering the ocean.
“Only by saving every 10th wash, the consumers could save 47 million tons (Megatons) of CO2 and 4.5 billion of cubic meters of freshwater globally. And if we could wash half as much, it turns out to be 235 million tons of CO2 and 22.5 billion cubic meters of water.” – Polygiene
A shorter and cooler wash cycle is better for the environment as it saves water and electricity usage while reducing carbon dioxide emissions as well as water pollution. Additionally, our clothes will also last longer since they aren’t being damaged by harsh wash cycles and temperatures as frequently. We save time, money, our clothes, and the environment all at the same time just from doing laundry less often. Really, it’s a win-win situation.
Clothing designed to last
In recent years, several brands have introduced new clothes and materials that are designed to require no washing, or needing very little of it. For example, Unbound Merino’s Merino wool, Pangaia’s seaweed fibre, and our very own Koup Cinnamon T-shirt that offer anti-odour and moisture-wicking properties, allowing you to stay feeling and smelling fresh.
Koup’s signature cinnamon t-shirt is made from recycled plastic bottles and cinnamon extracts. By infusing cinnamon extracts, a natural anti-odour agent, into our yarns and fabrics, we are able to inhibit the growth of odour-producing bacteria on the skin. As a result, these bacteria cannot grow on the t-shirt, and we are able to eliminate the annoying smell after sweating. This also means that the cinnamon t-shirt can last a longer time without needing a wash, which saves water and electricity, and helps the t-shirt last longer as less washing means less damage to the fabric.
What's even better is that we use a patented technology that combines cinnamon extracts with recycled polyester that are then made into yarns, fabrics and garments. In contrast to chemical or heavy metal coatings that are temporary and are washed off in as little as 5 washes, our anti-odour function will last the lifetime of the t-shirt! We tested the anti-microbial property of the t-shirt after 20 washes, and the result shows that the function did not fade a bit.
The best way to make sure our clothes stay in tip-top condition even after countless wears is to learn how to properly care for them. Lots of clothing brands make high quality and sustainable garments that are designed to be durable and long-lasting. However, it is still up to us as consumers to take care of our clothes and ensure that they last as long as they can so that we are not creating more waste and pollution for our planet. Of course, washing our clothing is important for our health and hygiene, especially during times like the pandemic when we must be extra careful and cautious. Keeping a cleanliness habit is important for ourselves and those around us, as our actions can truly make an impact. Similarly, it is our very own actions and the habits we create that can and will help our environment.
“If we used our clothes for just nine months longer before discarding them, we would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 16%, water usage by about 20% and waste by 8%.” – Polygiene
In this day and age where fast fashion is the leading model in the fashion industry, encouraging consumers to buy into new styles and trends every couple of weeks, it is our duty to shop consciously and responsibly in order to help restore our planet.
Save our Earth!
- Daeva miles on Unsplash
- Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash
- Daniele Bissoli on Unsplash