This post is the introduction to a five part series about being a conscious consumer.
So I want to be a conscious consumer. And for the last three days, I’ve shared about various ways I have been honing my slowly developing conscious consumer skills.
But there’s another side to responsible consumption, that of not consuming at all. The best, most responsible way to ensure I’m minimizing my negative impacts on the world related to my closet already resides in my closet; I have to properly care for and utilize the clothes I already own!
Similar to secondhand options, proper preventive care and maintenance can extend the life of my own clothes in my closet.
I’m not great at preventive care. Let’s add this to my areas for improvement. Do you have any awesome tricks that help your clothes and accessories last longer?
Excessive washing wears out clothing. I don’t intend to start setting timelines for how often to wash your clothes; that’s up to you and probably dependent on what you do while you wear them. Obviously, I’m more likely to wear a dress again without washing after a relatively cool day as opposed to a humid and hot day where I got sweaty and gross (ewww) during my commute. For a few ideas about proper care for your clothes (think: less laundry and saving yourself a few bucks on dry cleaning, among other things), check out the September Get Redressed campaign that focused on this exact topic. I included their monthly summary below.
They also have a seriously awesome Instagram account (@GetRedressed) that I would definitely encourage following. A few of their September tips that I pinned included the following:
Because these photos are from Instagram, I have included links to the pins I added to my boards. You can find the direct photos by following their Instagram account!
Above, the tips include using baking soda to help remove stains, limiting ironing (which is great news to my ears), and putting your clothes in the freezer overnight to kill bacteria.
Hate ironing as much as I do? Try these five tips!
Even though avoiding washing my clothes sounds great, sometimes I do still need to clean them. When I started getting annoyed at the high price of my dry cleaning bills, I investigated at-home dry cleaning options. It’s not entirely the same process so it won’t likely replace all your professional dry cleaning needs, but it does stretch the time between full service dry cleaning services.
Generally, a professional dry cleaner uses perchloroethylene to rmove stains and spots from your clothes. After some pre-treatment, the clothes are washed and dried with this chemical fluid which removes the dirt and stains with less wear and tear on the clothes than a regular washer and dryer. However, the chemical is not so great for the environment and the people who work with it, as you can imagine. Professional dry cleaning can also be really expensive!
At home dry cleaning, like Dryel or Dry Cleaner’s Secret, uses a less invasive chemical released by the heat of your dry cleaner. They typically include a pre-treatment spot cleaner as well, but it won’t give you the same quality as the professional dry cleaner. While these products aren’t exactly the same, they could save you significant dry cleaning dollars and reduce your environmental impact.
For additional information, you can check out this article comparing at-home to professional dry cleaning as well this New York Magazine article comparing various at-home dry cleaning brands. Do you use professional dry cleaning or do you do it yourself? Or maybe you just don’t buy clothes that require dry cleaning?
Also, learning a few simple tasks to mend or refashion clothes (even without a sewing machine) can revive them entirely. I’ve learned a few basic skills that have extended the lives of a few of my favorite items in my closet.
In the past, I have turned a maternity shirt into regular ol’ top, turned two sweatshirts became one, transformed my old tank top into a maxi dress, or just take a peek at my whole collection of refashions and quick fixes.
Even though I love a good (and easy!) DIY project, sometimes, I just can’t fix something myself. When the heel tip broke off my Jimmy Choo shoes, I hit up a shoe repair professional to take care of that debacle. I certainly wasn’t going to be throwing those out when a simple replacement could bring them back to life!
And back to my selfish considerations, it just plain saves me money when I don’t have to pay to replace something but can instead fix it (or not wear it out in the first place).
What do you do to make your clothes last as long as possible? Any great tricks the rest of us can try?