Make Every Thread Count
Did you know the choices you make about your clothing can have a large impact on our environment and natural resources? Learn more about the problem and what you can do to change the stats.
Americans throw away 32 billion pounds of textiles every year.
- The average consumer buys 60% more clothing and wears them 50% less than 15 years ago.
- Worldwide, clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2014, exceed 100 billion garments. In order to meet the demand, garments are lower quality that wear out much faster.
- Not only are those textiles filling landfills, but the resources used to make those textiles are wasted too. It can take 1,500 gallons of water to manufacture just one t-shirt and a pair of jeans. That is how much water you drink in 13 years.
Extending the life of your clothing, making informed purchases and properly caring of your clothing can change these statistics.
Step 1: Purchase quality items & clothes you will actually wear.
- Fabrics: All types of fabrics, whether natural or synthetic, have advantages and disadvantages. Consider the quality of the fabric itself (thickness, softness, stretch, etc.) and how suitable the fabric is for that particular item. Will it be comfortable and durable?
- Good quality thread and strong, even stitches: Give the fabric a gentle pull to see if the thread breaks or pops. Check for rippled, puckered or twisted hems and seams. Avoid garments that don’t appear to hang smoothly.
- Edges and hems: Cut or “raw” edges and hems can lead to unraveling and loose, hanging threads. Be careful in choosing garments with these features as they may require special laundering.
- Matched patterns: If the garment has stripes or plaid, the pattern should match up at the seams.
- Linings: For suits and other lined garments, check to see if the lining hangs loosely and doesn’t cause any pulling or puckering.
- Quality buttons and buttonholes: Buttonholes should be well stitched with no loose threads or raw fabric showing. Test the button in the buttonhole to make sure it’s easy to button up the garment.
Step 2: Take care of your clothes.
- Clean correctly: Follow labels when washing your clothes to keep them looking better and lasting longer.
- Consider cold water: For most laundry, you can use cold water and less detergent than directed. This prevents exposure to excess heat or chemicals that contribute to fading or wearing out.
- Group similar items and turn inside out: When washing, turn jeans and graphic shirts inside out to prevent fading and wear. Wash similar items together (for example, all jeans) to prevent harsher fabrics from wearing on softer ones.
- Use the dryer sparingly: High heat fades and shrinks material, and also breaks down elastic fibers in clothes, causing breakage and stretching. When possible, line or flat dry your clothes. If you must dry your clothes, use the lowest setting.
- Stain removal: Discover what sort of care is best for the stain. Cold water, hot water or stain treatment? Some quick online research can save that garment you love.
- Simple fixes: Learn the simple but satisfying art of re-attaching a button, mending a tear or applying a patch.
- Call in the experts: Locate a good dry cleaner and tailor that can help keep your clothes clean and well-fitted.
Step 3: Wear your clothes often and for as long as you can.
- Every item in your closet has a cost-per-wear: the longer you wear that shirt or pair of jeans, the more you get out of your investment. A closet carefully stocked with several quality items will outlast a closet packed with poorly made, disposable clothes. So choose quality—you’ll look good, save money and help care for our environment.