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How to Make Clothes Last

By Larraine Roulston: 

For the most part, the manufacturing process of textiles is notparticularly “green.” Pesticides are used to grow cotton, and chemical dyes produce vibrant colors.

 While aiming to live with a low carbon footprint, you have to think about your wardrobe. This includes finding quality clothes that will endure, as well as keeping your favorite outfits even longer.

 Impulsive buying just to be fashionable or simply for a change ishard on the environment. Be selective and purchase only clothes that really complement you. When selecting fabric accessories, be mindful of how they coordinate with your other clothes. Apply any cosmetics and deodorant before dressing to avoid staining your outfit.

 A washing machines agitation also can be a little tough on clothing, as every laundry cycle weakens textiles. Delicate fabrics and those with elastic, such undies and bras, will last longer if placed ina lingerie bag. Washing a few small items by hand extends the livesof these and other items such as cashmere sweaters. You also can takea few small under garments into the shower or tub when you wash.

 Researchers found that using an energy-demanding dryer does irreparable damage to your clothes. The dryers constant mechanical tumbling action along with heat is the main cause of micro-tearing, which diminishes the life of your clothes. Solid proof of a dryer’s tearing the fabric is gathered in the lint tray.

Dryers are culprits that can harm fabrics through shrinkage. One study confirmed that drying shrinks clothing twice as much as washing, while a tumble-dryer will shrink clothes twice as much as hanging them to dry. This makes a good case for investing in a drying rack and an outdoor clothesline. Allow the sun to bleach whites. Personally, I find hanging clothes on a drying rack and removing them to be easier thanusing a dryer. Its odd, but I never seem to lose one sock! To dry wool sweaters, lay them on a dry towel, fold over and roll up to allow the towel to absorb all the moisture.

 To use fewer resources, stay on top of small repairs. When noticing a loose button, take a few moments to secure it. As well, wash out stains as soon as possible. The small skills of using a needle and thread will save you money. If needed, employ a seamstress for alterations; this is easier on your budget than having to replace anentire outfit. Maintain your footwear as long as possible by taking them to a shoe shop for repairs. Keep dress shoes polished and water proofed. You can keep a shine on leather shoes by rubbing them with a banana peel andbuffing with a cloth.

 By washing clothes less often, you will be decreasing the rate that microfibers accumulate in our oceans. Even the manufacturers of jeans inform customers to wear them many times before washing. As well, washingless and eliminating the dryer will go a long way toward reducing your energy carbon footprint.

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 Larraine writes childrens books that highlight the joy of compostingand pollinating, To order, visit www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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