For consumers it is common to wash textiles with water and soap and occasionally dry-cleaning (with perc, a carcinogenic substance) or steaming. Why are textiles washed? To eliminate stains and odour. And even if these are not present the textiles are washed just to give the idea of cleanliness. I wrote an blog article in 2012 about this topic.
- It costs energy to heat up the water
- It costs water
- Soap goes down the drain and not all soaps are fully biodegradable or friendly to the aquatic environment, they might cause oxygen levels to drop which makes it hard (or impossible) for aquatic living creatures to survive.
- Washing materials from non-biodegradable plastic (PET, Polypropylene) creates microfibres that end up in oceans. (Read more about this at The Guardian)
- And washing in a machine is not only harmful for the environment, it damages your textiles as well, because textiles rub and spin around each other.
Use different materials: wool can be easily aired or steamed. Or nano-enhanced textiles. (‘nano’ means really tiny. At the moment researchers don’t know much the effects of nano-materials on human and nature. Because the particles are so small they could enter our skin. This can be good (biodegradable materials that heal the body for example) but we do not know the long term effects of e.g. silver entering the body.