What is the most sustainable way to wash your clothes? This seems like a simple question.
But consider a couple of important factors that bear on the answer. For instance, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, whose mission is to accelerate the transition to a circular sustainable economy, the washing of clothing containing polyester, nylon, and acrylic fibers results in some half a million tons of plastic microfibers going down the laundry drains of the world each year. This is equivalent to 50 billion plastic bottles being released annually into the ocean as a result of washing these textiles.
Just as importantly, disposing of garments quickly (as in the trend towards fast fashion) rather than caring for higher quality garments over a longer period adds significantly to the amount of textiles being discarded. In another report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it is estimated on a worldwide basis that currently one garbage truck of textiles is being landfilled or burned every second!
From a sustainability point of view, we believe that the closed loop nature of dry cleaning eliminates the down-the-drain problems associated with the release of plastic microfibers to our world’s oceans. And it permits the long term care of high quality natural fiber garments thereby minimizing the damaging effects on our world’s landfills and from the CO2 emissions attributed to much of the waste created by garments not cared for over time.
Thus, the answer to what is the most sustainable way to wash your clothes is actually a trick question. For the most sustainable way to care for your clothes, and the environment, is actually to dry clean them!
By: Ron Benjamin