Illustration of a hand mending a pair of jeans, while another tosses a tee shirt into a pile of clothes.

You Need To Treat Your Clothes Better

Being a conscious consumer means more than buying from sustainable companies, but it also means working to buy less and wearing what you have. Taking better care of your clothes extends the amount of time you have to cherish each piece.
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GRAPHIC DESIGN Audrey Chen

Have you ever loved an item of clothing until you literally could not wear it anymore? Until the colours had faded and there were holes in it and mending it would not be able to bring the life back into the item? Whenever my clothes get to the true end of their useful life, it’s always a little bit sad, but also satisfying to know that I truly wore it until it couldn’t be worn anymore. 

 

Maximizing the lifecycle of our clothes by caring for them properly is a simple way to actively reconsider how clothing is valued.

 

In 2017, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s report titled A New Textile Economy revealed that clothing production across the globe had more than doubled between the years 2000 and 2014, while the average amount of time consumers kept their clothes, and the amount of money spent on them, had both declined. During COVID, a lot of conversations have centered around rethinking our consumption habits, and when examining consumption of fashion, rethinking our habits is essential. This conversation, however, often skips over an important factor, which is how we, as consumers, treat the clothing that we already own. Maximizing the lifecycle of our clothes by caring for them properly is a simple way to actively reconsider how clothing is valued. This is a list of ways to better care for your clothes, extending their lifecycle and the amount of time you have to love them!

Don’t wash your clothes every single time you wear them

There’s no need to wash your clothes just because you wore them once. If they aren’t dirty or in need of a wash, don’t wash them, simple as that! Washing our clothes is a harsh process that causes them to wear out, and each time we wash our clothes, millions of microplastics are released from the fibers and end up in our waterways. Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that are difficult to see, and are actually one of the main causes of plastic pollution in oceans around the world.

Turn your clothes inside out to wash them

If you only implement one of these tips into your laundry routine, make it this one! I do this with every garment that I put through the washing machine, it helps to keep the colours vibrant, keeps prints and logos looking new without fading or breaking, and helps to prevent dyes from transferring onto other garments. Make sure to do up buttons, zippers, and other fasteners!

Follow the washing directions on the tag

This seems simple, but understanding the symbols on the washing tag and following the directions can make a huge difference on the impact that the washing machine has on your clothes!

Hang dry your clothes

Hang drying uses less energy, is less harsh on your clothes, and if you hang your clothes outside in the summer they will literally smell like sunshine! You should always hang dry your delicate items, and if you don’t need things dry right away, I recommend hang drying everything you can. Opting to hang dry your clothes instead of machine drying them will drastically reduce the intensity of the laundering process, and extend the life of your clothes!

Store your clothes properly

This one isn’t about washing, but is also important when considering ways to extend the life of clothing! It’s important to recognize what needs to be hung up, like blazers and button-up shirts, and what needs to be folded, like t-shirts and sweaters. Of course, the type of fabric is the most important factor when it comes to deciding how to store an item, so as a general rule, stretchier fabrics should be folded, and stiffer fabrics should be hung. Pay attention to whether or not the clothes are being stretched in weird ways, as this is an indication that they aren’t being stored properly.

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