Buying your clothes from ethical and planet-friendly sources is only the beginning. Most life-cycle assessments agree that a garment’s greatest environmental impact comes not from its manufacture but rather its use. Washing and drying, in fact, accounts for more than half of an item’s ecological burden. To encourage less-frequent laundering, Lisa Bengtsson, a product-and-furniture design student at Kingston University, arrived at a creative solution: a set of clothes hangers that harness activated charcoal to keep clothes fresh and clean.
Typically derived from coconut shell, activated carbon is a highly porous, nontoxic material known for its ability to purify air and neutralize smells. “Activated charcoal is already widely used for purifying the water in fish tanks or animals’ feeding bowls and it can absorb the odors from a piece of clothing even if it’s held a meter away from it,” Bengtsson says. “Today we wash our clothes much more than we need to and it harms both the garments and the planet. A worn item very often doesn’t need to be cleaned, but merely freshened up.”
Derived from coconut shell, activated carbon is a highly porous material known for its ability to purify air and absorb smells.
Each “Bye Bye Laundry” hanger consists of a refillable glass chamber perched on top of a wooden filter, along with a ring from which clothes can be hung. Granules of activated charcoal in the chamber “suck” in odors in their vicinity, a process that can take a few days. Despite their less-than-attractive task, Bengtsson wanted her hangers to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. “I’ve covered the rings in flocked velvet, to give them a touch of luxury and prevent the clothes falling off,” she says. “I wanted them to be an attractive feature that people would be proud to have in their homes.”
Besides saving water and energy, reduced laundering also minimizes wear and tear on clothing fibers, which can shorten a garment’s lifespan. Good for the planet, good for your wardrobe, and good for your wallet? Bengtsson’s hangers are a winning proposition all around.