FABRIC & FASHION CARE TIPS
Sustainable fashion is increasingly popular today. More and more, garments are being created, produced and cared for with consideration to the environmental and social impact they may have throughout their total life span. Ethical and sustainable sourcing of materials have been an important focus in the sustainable fashion movement to date, but one of the biggest opportunities we have to improve fashion’s eco-footprint is in the way that we care for garments. Between 50 and 80% of the total energy consumed during the life of a garment is during the use phase – e.g. how we clean and care for our clothes.
Many people are surprised to learn that dry cleaning actually has a lower carbon footprint than home laundering. GreenEarth, with its positive environmental profile, offers the optimal solution for sustainable garment care. Finding a dry cleaner that uses the GreenEarth method will not only reduce your carbon footprint for each cleaning, it will also help your garments last longer, reducing their footprint over time without doing any damage to the planet. GreenEarth is a safe, non-toxic, biodegradable solution that will keep your garments soft and enhance their sustainability.
Organically grown versions of fabrics you already wear, like cotton and wool, are becoming easier to find. Other materials, like bamboo and hemp, are new to the fashion world and add trendsetting prestige to an outfit, along with the environmental advantages. To learn which can be cleaned at home which require dry cleaning, see the eco-fabrics cleaning chart below. GreenEarth solution is an eco-friendly choice for dry cleaning eco-friendly garments that won’t fade or wear fabrics, so clothes stay newer longer.
The bamboo plant does not need pesticides or fertilizers, requires very little water, and can grow up to several feet per day. Bamboo also “breathes” heavily—a bamboo grove releases 35% more oxygen than other trees. Bamboo fabric is more absorbent than cotton, quick-drying, and has naturally occurring anti-microbial properties that help stop odor.
Factories that manufacture bamboo fibers use a process similar to that of rayon—using the caustic chemicals sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide. “Greener” methods of making bamboo clothing are being developed, but the chemical method still has a smaller environmental impact than conventionally grown cotton and petroleum-based nylon and polyester fabrics.
Cotton farming in the United States uses only about 3% of the farmland, but 25% of the pesticides. To put it in perspective, it takes 1/3 of a pound of chemicals to produce one t-shirt. Organic cotton is cotton that has been grown without chemicals on land that has been chemical-free for at least three years. It must be certified organic by a third party—in the U.S., the Department of Agriculture regulates this process. Cotton that is grown without chemicals, but on land that has not yet been chemical free for a full three years, is referred to as transitional cotton.
Organic cotton garments cost more than conventional ones—up to 50% more. Some manufacturers use blended fibers with 10-25% organic cotton to help keep the cost of the garments down while still supporting sustainability. Organically grown cotton feels, looks, and can be washed just like regular cotton.
The hemp plant grows well without using pesticides or other agrochemicals. It is a hardy plant that can withstand harsh weather, and fertilizes its own soil by shedding leaves throughout the season. These natural qualities make hemp a sustainable choice for the production of many goods. Hemp is illegal to grow in the U.S., so hemp fibers must be imported for use in the apparel industry. It is not illegal to use hemp in manufacturing—hemp oil is an ingredient in many cosmetics, and hemp paper and clothing are sold in the U.S. Hemp fabric is moth-resistant, quick-drying and holds its shape well. Though difficult to bleach, it can be dyed a variety of dark and bright colors. It is breathable and durable, and becomes softer through washing and wearing.
“Linen” can be an ambiguous term—it often refers to bed sheets, towels, and tablecloths made from a variety of fabrics. Traditional linen is an all-natural fabric derived from flax. Being all-natural, however, does not necessarily make it a sustainable choice. The process used to create linen fibers from flax often uses harsh chemicals. Look for certified organic linen—it is chemical-free from the plant to the end product. Organic linen is generally not treated with wrinkle-reducing chemicals, so have it dry cleaned with GreenEarth to keep it looking fresh and crisp without any environmental hazards.
Certified organic wool must comply with organic standards for livestock (such as organic beef). These standards include providing organic feed for the sheep, not overcrowding the sheep on the land, and the prohibition of synthetic chemicals and hormones. Because of increased production costs, organic wool does cost more than conventional wool. Organic wool feels, looks, and can be used exactly like conventional wool. Some conventional wool garments are labeled machine washable, but because organic wool is usually not treated with any shrink-reducing chemicals, it should be drycleaned. GreenEarth, in addition to being an environmentally-friendly choice, prevents shrinkage.
Polyester is a petroleum-based plastic made from polyethylene terephthalate, or PET—the same plastic as water and soda bottles. Recycled polyester can be made from old polyester clothes as well as other similar plastic products, and may be labeled as “eco-fleece.” Patagonia, a brand of outdoor wear, pioneered a program where customers can send back their worn-out polyester items to be recycled and sold again. In addition to sportswear, more upscale items such as suits are being made from this material. To protect nicer items from the agitation of a washing machine, have them dry cleaned with GreenEarth so they last longer without the use of toxic chemicals. While recycling is a hallmark of the environmental movement, the chemical process used to melt down and remake polyester is not always eco-friendly. Even so, purchasing recycled rather than new polyester items reduces the amount of oil needed to produce garments, and reduces the amount of polyester going into landfills.
How to Clean
Depending on the type of garment and the price you paid for it, you may not want to risk washing your eco-fashions at home. Many items, no matter what they are made from, are labeled “dry clean only,” and there are good reasons for it. Dry cleaning extends the life of a garment by reducing the wear and tear from a regular washing machine. Unlike traditional dry cleaning, GreenEarth is eco-friendly and gentle on fabrics.
|FABRIC||WHEN TO WASH||WHEN TO DRY CLEAN|
|Bamboo||Cotton/bamboo blends that have been preshrunk, t-shirts, socks, and other casual low-maintenance items can be safely machine washed.||All bamboo bedding should be dry cleaned in GreenEarth, as well as blazers, sport coats, and dresses. Dry clean anything made from 100% bamboo—it may shrink in regular washing|
|Organic Cotton||T-shirts, denim, and other everyday wear made from organic cotton can be safely machine washed.||Delicate knits, blends with other material (such as wool or cashmere), bedding, and nicer items such as blazers, polos and dresses, should be dry cleaned in GreenEarth|
|Hemp||Casual shirts and pants can be safely machine washed. Hemp will naturally become softer over time, similar to denim.||Delicate knits, blends with other material (such as wool or cashmere), bedding, and nicer items such as blazers, polos and dresses, should be dry cleaned in GreenEarth|
|Linen||If your linen has been pre-treated with wrinkle-reducing chemicals, it can be machine washed. Check the tag to find out.||Delicate knits, blends with other material (such as wool or cashmere), bedding, and nicer items such as blazers, polos and dresses, should be dry cleaned in GreenEarth|
|Organic Wool||Only if the item is labeled machine washable, but be careful—organic wool may not be treated with shrink reducing chemicals, so even if it has been preshrunk, it may be distorted in the wash||Almost all wool items need to be dry cleaned in GreenEarth, especially if your item has not been preshrunk or treated with shrink reducing chemicals|
|Recycled Polyester||Fleece pullovers, jackets, and light but sturdy items can be machine washed||Suits, dresses, and other dressy items should be dry cleaned in GreenEarth, and any polyester item that is filled with down (winter coats, sleeping bags)|