CARE – REPAIR – WEAR
Rinse and repeat, but not too often.
Image by Courtney Holm
CARE – REPAIR – WEAR
The concept of keeping an article of clothing, wearing it to death, washing it properly, mending breakages along the way and continuing to wear has now been lost, taken over by the idea that replacement is cheaper than repair (and certainly more convenient for the time poor). Now that fast fashion has stolen the hearts of so many, consumption has been rising and continues to rise. We can now all give a slow clap to cheap-as-chips fashion. This is not anti-fast-fashion-hype, global consumption of textiles has more than doubled since 2000 and 90% of clothing is discarded before it should be.
Clothing is now notoriously considered a commodity. Cheap. Easy come, easy go. Disposable. Sending old, crappy polyester-blend tees to St Vinnies never felt so good- “it’s cleansing” they say. But behind closed doors and in far away landfills, our wasted clothes sit and rot, slowly, too slowly. In fact it might be over 500 years before that crappy poly-blend tee degrades, and even then it only breaks into smaller pieces that whisk off into the air, our oceans and into our sea life. I'm not against cleansing one's wardrobe entirely, but if it's just to make way for new purchases then, actually yes, I am against it.
There are many rebuttals to the demise of caring for our clothing. Here's some good ones (and I am also guilty of using these myself). I'm too busy. I can’t be bothered adjusting the temperature. Tumble drying is more convenient. Don’t know how to sew. Don’t want to know. Things are so cheap, what’s the point? When the quality breaks down, I’ll just get a new one.
Many yawns. Actually, caring for your things and allowing them to develop a story can be really interesting and oh-so-satisfying, on the proviso you buy quality items to begin with. It doesn't take that much extra time, once you know what you are doing, and you are sure to save shopping time, and dollars, in the end. Ruining clothes and constantly shopping for more and still never really liking what you have...sounds like hamsters running in a hamster wheel. Boring and sad.
Did you know that most of the nasty stuff (environmentally speaking) that happens to clothing occurs AFTER purchase? Yep. The washing, the drying, the ironing, the throwing away, the shipping of second hand clothes around the globe, the greenhouse gasses released during their slow-if-at-all decomposition. All of these things are what make the biggest difference. We fashion labels can do our bit, but if our customers don’t do theirs, it’s all for naught.
So what can we do, dear wearer and washer of clothes? We can start by taking care of the stuff we already have. There are two key areas I want to highlight for prolonging the life of your waredrobe. 1. CARE and 2. REPAIR. Here I have listed my top 5 Care Tips. If you want to know more about Repair, then scroll down to the bottom for some exciting details.
1. Don’t over wash
Washing and drying a load every two days creates around 440kg of CO2e each year. Over washing also sends clothing to the grave faster, so unless its been rubbing up next to your skin, sniff-check it before you wash! (is that gross?) Things like jeans and jackets may never need to be washed!
2. You can never have too many wash bags
Use several wash bags (AKA delicates bag) to protect organic cotton tees, bras and lingerie. Don’t shove everything into one bag, but seperate a few items only into each bag for washing. Anything labelled “hand wash only” can be washed in this way- always on cold.
3. Tumble dryers suck
I fear tumble dryers as they lurk in wait for the perfect moment to shrink my merino wool sweater (cries). Plus they use a tonne of energy. You can save more than half the carbon emissions by drying on the line instead of in the dryer. My advice is if you really need to use one, do it on an air-dry cycle (no heat) - it’s a lot gentler on the planet.
4. Airing out is a thing
Have you sniffed a tee and found its freshness appeal to be borderline? Try hanging it out in some fresh air before resorting to the laundry basket. You’d be surprised how often you get an extra wear from using this technique. However, I wouldn't do this with underwear, just wash them. Please.
5. Cold is Gold
Wash on cold! It preserves the life of your garments! I can’t tell people this enough, especially organic garments, which don’t have chemicals to protect them from the beating of a 60 degree furnace-like wash. Cold is better on your delicates, and will help preserve the life of every item you wash.
Fun fact. Extending the life of clothing by an extra nine months would reduce the garment’s carbon, waste and water footprints by around 20-30%. Way easy and not boring at all.
And now for the most exciting part... Repair. We are saving this topic for a very special live event to be held in Melbourne on the 22nd of April in partnership with Fashion Revolution, and we want you to come! Join us for a classy afternoon of grown-up beverages and networking, while we get stuck into three very useful, but hardly known, skills to repair your wardrobe favs. Bring along something you want to fix, and we will provide the tools and resources you need in a hands-on workshop with local artists. This is a not-for-profit event, and proceeds will go directly back to Fashion Revolution. Tickets include drinks, workshop, 1 raffle ticket and a free gift plus there will be ample chances to win one of two amazing prizes including the Money Fashion Power Fanzine Issue 01 by Fashion Revolution. Hurry, limited space available!
CARE – REPAIR – WEAR a very special event hosted by A.BCH and Fashion Revolution