Washing More or Washing Less?

Washing More or Washing Less?

Since their invention, washing machines have revolutionized the laundry industry making the labor of weekly washing a thing of the past and, thus, our lives easier. Yet, its benefits come at the expense of the environment. 

Annually, these machines use an estimated 19 billion cubic meters of water and emit around 62 million tons of Co2. Moreover, fabrics, especially synthetic textiles, shed microplastics known as microfibers every time they are washed. These microfibers end up in the ocean and make their way into the food chain. Scientists are still studying their toxicity and harmful consequences, still knowing we are ingesting microplastics and that these are pervasive and nonbiodegradable is concerning.


Of course, while these machines have a significant role in environmental pollution (35% of ocean pollution comes from the laundry), our choices regarding clothing purchases and laundry habits are also fundamental. 


The average American runs between four to five loads a week, wasting water and electricity and shedding high numbers of microfibers and carcinogen chemicals into the environment. While it’s understandable to wash gym clothes, intimates, towels, and linens regularly, the effect of the water and detergents can damage fabrics faster, sending worn-out clothes to landfills much quicker.


The thing is that most fabrics don’t need to be washed as often or even at all. Wool, for example, contains natural antibacterial properties, which makes them not smell as other garments when worn often. Instead, spot-treating can be the best and smarter option when it comes to wool. Jeans and denim are clothing and fabrics that, if washed less, can cut energy consumption up to 6 times, according to the United Nations Environment Program. Levi’s recommends washing jeans every two weeks in cold water, skipping the dryer, and ironing.


Old-school air drying can be an option when a shirt or other garment doesn’t smell. Air allows oxygen to surround the item, keeping the fabric fresh and ready to be worn again. The rule of thumb is if it doesn’t smell, it can be worn again.


The better we care for our clothing, the longer it can last. By washing clothes less often and using our resources consciously, we can reduce the impact of our laundry habits on the environment and our lives. 

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