Garment care is an enormous environmental issue, but it’s also a personal one. We each use incredible amounts of water, cleaning products and energy on our clothes. Reducing that impact is something I’m trying to do every day. The way we care for our clothes has more impact on energy and water sources than a dye house, a factory, or a fleet of trucks. It’s easy to forget that wash water heads out to the sea, and dryers run on fossil fuels. Here are seven tips from all of us at Eileen Fisher.
1. WASH LESS
My daughter Sasha and I are running the washing machine less often—two generations trading clothes, and environmental values.
2. SWITCH TO COLD WATER
This simple act can cut your energy impact by up to 90 percent. When our labels call for machine washing, they call for cold water.
3. CHOOSE PRODUCTS FROM PLANTS, NOT PETROLEUM
Chemicals and dyes aren’t renewable and most don’t biodegrade. Look up anything you can’t pronounce—you can Google all the ingredients.
Conventional dryers are a huge energy culprit. “Line-drying preserves fibers—and the life of your clothes,” says Jill, our expert pattern maker.
5. STEAM INSTEAD OF IRON
Steaming saves energy and freshens clothes, extending the time between dry cleanings.
6. HAND WASH INSTEAD OF DRY CLEAN
Read care labels and you’ll be surprised at how many fibers—wool, silk, cashmere, mohair—can be hand washed. For instructions, go to www.eileenfisher.com/care.
7. GO TO A GREEN DRY CLEANER
The nasty facts about perc, a known carcinogen, make going out of your way to a greener cleaner worth it. If you can, bring a reusable dry cleaning bag or ask your cleaner to skip the plastic. And bring back your hangers to recycle.