What’s the Easiest Way to Reduce the Environmental Impact of My Clothes?

by , 04/11/11   filed under: Ask a Designer, Featured, Green Designers

Eileen Fisher, garment care, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, Ask a Designer

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.

Eileen Fisher, Spring/Summer 2011, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style

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.

4. LINE-DRY

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.

+ Eileen Fisher

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One Response to “What’s the Easiest Way to Reduce the Environmental Impact of My Clothes?”

  1. amyrloder (@amyrloder) says:

    Yes to handwashing! I have seen the life of my clothes extended by handwashing and focusing on cuffs/collars and pits in my button down shirts silk, cotton and even some synthetic blends. I am loving the product by The Laundress New York “Cuffs & Collars” bar. J.Crew sells it on their website. It’s easy to use and the scent is minimal, which I also prefer. I have sensitive skin and I stay away from scents and dyes as much as possible. Plus, those things go in our water too. Seems unnecessary to me. Stay with basics.

    I have hand-washed silk for many years. It totally works and with a handheld steamer looks great with little effort. They even taught us that silk was hand-washable when I went to fashion school. When you look at most labels in silk garments they only offer the “dry clean only” option. Not so, give hand-washing a go.

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