Thursday 10 September 2015

Make Your Clothes Last Longer

As a writer on ethical fashion, I try to find inspration from everywhere I can. It's such an open subject, taking in aspects of the environment, worker relations and health and safety, technology, science and the arts. So I cast my net widely.
I make no apologies, then, for giving a shout-out to a recent article on BuzzFeed. Yeah, that's right, the place with all the weird quizzes and cat GIFs. The thing is, BuzzFeed is a big place, and there's a lot of smart life-hacks on there.
A hat-tip, then, to staff writer Maitland Quitmeyer (please, let that be her real name) for an aggregated piece entitled 22 Borderline Genius Ways To Make Your Clothes Last Longer. There are some genuinely valuable ideas in here, designed to give the items in your wardrobe that little extra boost. Really simple things too, like how to hang a sweater to avoid the dreaded shoulder bumps. Or a neat way to waterproof fabric shoes (like Toms, for example) using beeswax and a hairdryer.
Crucially, the last tip gives the heads-up on how long you should wear clothes between washes. One of the major ways we can cut energy use in the home is by using power-hungry appliances like washers and driers a little less. Our perception of what's dirty against the reality of everyday use is a little skewed. You can wear jeans for 10 days without needing to throw them in the washing basket. Chunky knits and sweaters, even longer. No-one's suggesting you turn your pants inside-out for that second day's wear, of course. But it's worth considering whether that t-shirt really needs to go in for a boil-wash after a single four-hour wear if you haven't done anything strenuous.
It's also worth noting that Maitland extols the use of washing lines over dryers. These have a couple of advantages. Firstly, they don't cost anything to run. Secondly, they're better for your clothes. Less agitation means less wear and tear. And sunlight has anti-bacterial properties, keeping your beloved items fresher for longer. If you're worried about fading, simply turn your clothes inside out before getting them on the line.
Being an ethical fashionista is as much about making the most of what you already have as shopping smartly. Why throw a pair of jeans out because there's a hole in them? It takes ten minutes with an iron-on patch to repair them, and you don't need any sewing skills. Unless you like holes in the knees of your trews–I see that a lot these days.
I recommend a look at the BuzzFeed list, and see how these simple tips could radically extend the life in your clothing. Haven't you heard that it's cool to be frugal?

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