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Preserving what you have is a big part of cutting waste. Laundry evangelist Patric Richardson, coauthor of Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore and star of the show The Laundry Guy, offers tips for taking care of what’s already in your closet.

  1. Extend its life, no matter what its life is. Who cares if it’s expensive or cheap — you like it! Whether it’s an heirloom or an item you extend for three seasons rather than one, that’s environmentally a better choice.
  2. Express wash, warm water. Contrary to popular belief, warm-water wash will not ruin clothes more quickly. Any energy you gain from using cold water is negated by the length of the cycle and wear and tear on clothes from abrasion in the machine. “Warm” water is not even warm enough for a bath for humans, and newer machines use only about 4 gallons of water.
  3. Hang everything up. Tumbling in the dryer is not the environmental choice — or the best choice for clothes, because the real problem is the abrasion. Lint is your clothes dying, and abrasion shaves years off their lives. Get a drying rack. Clotheslines are heaven.
  4. Don’t wash it just because you wore it. Richardson says, “I wear my jeans at least 10 times before I wash them, and I call myself the Laundry Guy.”
  5. Learn how to remove stains. Most of them take two seconds to get out. Use some laundry soap or a laundry bar; scrub the stain with a wet brush; and rinse.
  6. Wear what works for you. Wearing something a lot is better than having a few things you wear twice.
  7. Explore other ways to get a fashion fix. Once you know how to remove stains and care for fabrics, you can buy thrift, vintage, or from estate sales. It’s a good cheap thrill, and it’s sustainable.

This was excerpted from “Putting the Brakes on Ultrafast Fashion” which was published in the December 2021 issue of Experience Life magazine.

Katie Dohman

Katie Dohman is a writer and editor in St. Paul, Minn.

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