Washing clothes is every new parent nightmare, seriously how can such a little person make need a clothe change so often? There is no perfect solution, we try to limit the amount of washes we do by only washing when the drum is full and air drying everything. To limit the amount to dirty clothes, we change into lounge wear as soon as we got home and we use an apron when cooking. We limit ironing too. A friend of mine told me that to avoid ironing his clothes, he shake them off before hanging up to dry and then he carefully folds them before storing. It does work, not with every type of fabric but it does with most.
As for a laundry detergent, we use the eco egg. It is great for sensitive skin and even though the egg is made of plastic it is refillable and it last up to 720 washes. I’ve tried both the fragrance-free and the one with the “fresh linen” essence. The fragrance-free definitely lasted the 720 promised washes but the scented one lasted way less and the essence was minimal, so my advice would be to go for the fragrance free. It is not really effective on stains so you should keep that in mind, I try different things according to the type of stain. You could buy an stain remover and apply it on the spot. Instead of fabric softener try adding 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
A whole different issue are microfibers. Microplastic pollution comes from different sources, one of them is synthetic fibers. Every time you wash your clothes, you could release more than 700,000 microscopic plastic fibers into the environment, according to a study of the Plymouth University in the UK. So think twice before washing your synthetic clothes. “Each synthetic garment emits at least 1,900 microscopic plastic fibers when machine washed” according to this website. If you really need to wash your synthetic fabric clothes run a gentle cycle with cold water, to limit shedding.
I know that PETA recommends buying man-made fabrics instead of wool or leather. For summery weather or light clothing you can buy natural fibers such as hemp or organic cotton. The only real problem I can think of is winter clothing. A solution in the middle would be to buy second-hand wool clothing. I know it is a little bit polemic because vegan are not supposed to use any animal product and to be honest I do not think I could wear a leather jacket. But continuing to add plastic to an already plastic-full world is unnecessary. There are some really good fabrics being developed but they are still not mainstream and often hard to find.
Though it is still being developed, the coral ball, could be a good way to diminish the amount of microfiber that is send into the ocean. It is expected to be up for sale soon, you can join their pre-order list to be posted about the release date.
I would like to clarify about the washing machine itself. If you are familiar with this study Microfiber Pollution and the Apparel Industry, you might have noticed that one of their results is that there was 5,3 times more shedding from top-load machines. I think it is inaccurate to condemn all top-loader machines. Some top-loader machines (called European top-loaders) have an horizontal axis rotating drum, as the front-loaders do. So the main difference is not how the machine is loaded but the most important difference is how the drum spins, the best washing machines have an horizontal axis rotating drum (whether they are front-loaders or European top-loaders). I’m not saying you should ditch your washing machine, just keep it in mind if you need a new one.
Writing this post got me thinking. There is no way to actually live a zero-waste life, there is no way to be perfect. The only think we can aim to, is to change the world’s perception of what is normal, that’s every activist’s function: to make people consider what is “normal” or “right”. We might not make plastic packaging disappear altogether but we lead a change for the future generations, push for a change toward a circular economy. I do feel guilty about some poor choices I made in the past and by the amount of plastic still present in my life, but if you are reading this and feeling the same way, you are not alone and we are making the best we can with the resources we have. Next time I’ll write a whole post about the apparel industry.
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