How to care for clothes and create a more sustainable wardrobe

It is estimated that around three-fifths of all clothing produced in today’s world ends up in landfills or incinerators within just one year of being made. This shocking statistic was created through the rise of fast, throwaway fashion. Lockdown has seen this increase massively, with 75% of consumers admitting to shopping more online than before the pandemic. When clothing is available at super-cheap prices it is inevitable that quality may be sacrificed. It is harder for companies to use good quality, sustainable materials and ethical production methods, whilst keeping up with the extremely low price point of the fast-fashion industry.

At Robert Goddard, we work with sustainable brands who understand how important it is to create beautiful pieces of clothing that stand the test of time. We consistently try to achieve carbon neutrality within our company, with paper-based packaging and a large sustainable range of clothing. These are just some of the things we do to make the fashion industry more environmentally friendly, but what can you as the customer do to play your part? From the moment you treat yourself to that brand new coat or new designer boots in our store, there are easy steps you can take at every single stage of its life to protect not only your new purchase but also the planet. 

Choosing the right textiles for a more sustainable wardrobe

Although there are some materials which are deemed ‘more sustainable’ than others, there is still a huge range of existing textiles to choose from. 100% cotton, wool or polyester are easier to recycle than most, making them great choices for your next eco-friendly purchase. There are also great developments happening in the world of recycled materials. Many brands are working on innovative technology which allows household items such as single-use plastics into clothing. Napapijri is a brilliant example of this as their jackets are made from recycled materials, with some lines being 100% fully recyclable. We love representing a brand who cares so much about sustainability that they are Cradle to Cradle certified, meaning they work at the highest standard for sustainable production. 

Cleaning tips for my new clothes

Your beautiful new wardrobe should be treated with care. Ever experienced the agony of accidentally throwing your jumper in the wrong wash and watching it come out five sizes smaller? Making sure you know these simple rules will ensure you never have to face that problem again: 

  • Washing your clothes on a 30 or 40 degree wash as often as you can. Not only do you save energy it is better for the environment, it will also save your clothes! Some delicate fabrics do not last as well in a very hot wash, and keeping it cool will be more than enough to provide a thorough clean. 
  • Use alternative methods of cleaning. Unless you are working out or doing strenuous activity, your clothes don’t need to be washed as often as you might think. Try airing your clothes outside to get rid of light odours or try steaming instead of ironing. If you have accidentally spilled something on your favourite t-shirt, try wiping off the stain first before throwing it in the wash. 
  • Tumble drying is a last resort. Although the tumble dryer is a blessing for those mornings when you remember your work clothes are still in the washing machine, there are many alternative ways of drying your clothes which will save your bank account and the planet in the long run. Investing in a rotary airer for your clothes may be weather dependent but choosing it as your first choice will save the possible damage that a tumble dryer can cause. 
  • Choose an eco-friendly detergent. You don’t have to break the bank or trawl the internet to find a good detergent, almost all supermarkets will stock a range of environmentally-friendly choices. Another thing to look out for when cleaning wool, cashmere or silk is whether or not the detergent is enzyme-free. This is important as enzymes cause these textiles to break down after a few washes. This will help to keep your clothes looking brand new every wash.
  • Get used to how each material is washed. This doesn’t mean you have to sit and memorise every single textile and the corresponding cleaning instructions, as luckily most clothing has a washing label to help you out. However, here are a few main rules to try: 

Material

Care Instructions

Polyester

Medium wash, can be tumble dried. Handy to use a washing bag to trap microfibres from escaping (and ending up in the ocean!)

Cotton 

Wash clothes in cold water. Choose line drying over tumble drying. 

Silk

Hand wash or delicate wash - air dry.

Wool or Cashmere

Air to get rid of odours or hand wash if necessary. 

Mixed Fabrics 

Although a lot of mixed fabrics can withstand a warmer wash, a 30 or 40 degree wash is best. Always air on the side of caution and treat the material as if it was 100% cotton if it is a cotton mix for example. 

Repair not replace!

In today’s world where it is so easy to buy a whole new wardrobe for every season, we seem so far away from the wartime slogan “make do and mend” which inevitably enabled sustainable fashion. However, this is an attitude which could do with a resurgence. It is far better for the planet to fix your clothes when they become worn, instead of throwing them to the landfill. Several brands we stock at Robert Goddard even offer services to make this easier! For example, Barbour offers a free re-waxing service for their wax coats - creating a long lasting sustainable fabric, meaning you can hang on to your favourite Barbour jacket for much longer.

There are plenty ways to improve the longevity of your items: 

  • Consider ‘hand-me-downs’ or giving unwanted clothes to charity when you no longer wear them.
  • Learn basic sewing skills so that you can fix any wear and tear damage yourself, or visit a local tailor to see if your favourite clothing can be saved.
  • Invest in timeless staple pieces over on-trend items so that you can change up the styling and get use out of your clothes in every season. 
  • Spend more on high-quality items. It might be human instinct to choose the cheaper option (and we aren’t going to argue against a good bargain!) but first do your research on the brand and find out how long their materials last. Luckily at Robert Goddard, we have done the research for you, so you are always in safe hands!