Caring for your clothes (they need love too)

A huge proportion of a garment's environmental impact is not in its production or transport, but in its use by the consumer. 
As people who are going to be living on this earth for a while (hopefully!), we want to show consideration not only for our fellow humans, but for the natural resources we have.



Get dirty.  Washing your clothes less frequently will not only make them last longer, but you'll also be cutting down on your carbon footprint and saving on those water and energy bills.  Just don't let it become too infrequent...

Load it up!  Always wash with a full drum, so you get the maximum out of one cycle.

Turn to 30.  That classic advice from those Ariel washing powder ads really does make a difference!  It brought about reductions in energy used by washing machines in the UKfrom 268 kilowatt hours for the average household in the mid - 1980s to 166 kilowatt hours in 2012.  

Use your hands. If it's just a little stain or spilling, spot clean it or wash by hand. Get physical with your clothing. 


Peg it.  Tumble drying is one of the most energy intensive things you can do with your clothing.  It accounts for 75% of the carbon footprint produced by an item.  So, if and when you can, just peg it on a line or drying rack.


Mend it like grandma.  We know it's an old school way of thinking about things, but if you buy quality over quantity - you shouldn't get holes and snags too often.  However, no item of clothing is bulletproof (apart from Kevlar vests), so if you do find a few loose stitches - stitch it up to make it last.  If you're unconfident with doing it, ask a friend or use a clothing repair service.


Elbow grease.  Instead of chucking that old shirt in the bin, use it as a cleaning or polishing cloth.  That doesn't sound glamorous, granted, but it's better than it going to landfill (if you've seen what that looks like, it ain't pretty).

Upcycle.  Are you the adventurous type wanting to learn a new skill?  Try an upcycling or sewing course and make something new out of something old.   If the item is still in good condition but you're just tired of it, do some low maintenance DIY on it - i.e cut the legs off your jeans to make into raw edged shorts.


One man's trash is another man's treasure.  Which is why clothes swapping works so well!  Organise your own with friends or go along to an event, they're happening all the time in major UK cities.

Flog it! Short of cash?  Sell your unwanted items on sites like ebay or gumtree.  Or if you're feeling generous, freecycle it.

Final Destination.  If your item really has reached the end, give it to a textile recycling unit where every fibre that can be used again, will be used again.  Check that they're members of the Textile Recycling Association to ensure that they are disposing of the clothing legally, and that the funds are going to the charities they claim to collect for.