WHAT IS PILLING?
Have you ever been disappointed because your new (or pre-loved) knitted garment started pilling after only a few wears? I know I have! Pilling is something that occurs for all knitted garments sooner or later, no matter the quality of the maker. It is caused by loose fibres that twist together and form pills, and it happens for both natural and synthetic materials.
HOW TO REMOVE PILLING
I know there are lots of machines and stuff you can purchase to remove pills, but the absolute best method in my opinion is to use a regular razor! It’s cheap, effective, and doesn’t add to the clutter of your home in the same way a pilling machine does. I keep a simple razor inside my sewing kit, so it doesn’t really take up any extra space!
What you will need:
- Lint roller
All you need to get started is a cheap razor and a lint roller, to remove the ”shaved” off fabric fibres from the clothes. Stretch the fabric with one hand and carefully shave the fabric in small movements. I find it easiest to place the garment on a hard surface, like a table top. If you have a large garment with a lot of pilling this will take some time, so be patient. Also, be careful so you don’t accidentally cut off any threads or rip the fabric. And of course be careful not to cut yourself as well. Before you know it your clothes will be good as new!
HOW TO PREVENT PILLING:
- Wash inside out | Always turn your garments inside out before washing. This does not only prevent pilling, but also makes the colour last longer, and protects buttons, zips, embroideries and other details from unnecessary wear and tear.
- Use a washing bag | Similar to turning garments inside out, a washing bag prevents friction that will cause pilling during the wash cycle. Extra sensitive garments should always go inside a washing bag.
- Hand wash | Use the delicate hand wash cycle on your washing machine, since the slower spin cycle means less friction and therefore less pilling.
- Hang dry | I know it’s easy to chuck everything in the tumble dryer, but I promise you your clothes will last so much longer if you hang dry them instead. Tumble drying is very harsh on the surface of the fabrics and will cause pilling before you know it. Anyone who’s ever emptied the filter inside a tumble dryer knows how much textile fibers that collect there over time!
- Avoid fiber blends | All knitted garments will start pilling eventually, but fiber blends with a mixture of both natural and synthetic fibers have a tendency to pill faster and more. Remember to check the care label before you buy something new. My own rule of thumb is to avoid any garments with more than two different fibers in the composition.
- Wear with care | Most of the pilling occurs during wear, but there are things you can do to prevent it. First of all, avoid wearing backpacks and shoulder bags directly on the garment. Friction from the straps and the bag itself will cause pilling. Second, make sure to let your garments rest between wears to avoid stretching the fabric and causing loose fibers to pile up. Last but not least, take good care of your garments both when wearing, washing and storing them.
If you haven’t heard of Green Laces before, it’s both an online and physical store here in Stockholm that sells vegan and ethically produced shoes and accessories. They have a lot of different brands and a great mix of both shoes, bags and other accessories like belts and wallets. It can be hard to find vegan shoes so I really appreciate stores like this one that offers a curated selection of vegan products!
We all know that the fashion industry is a major contributor to environmental issues like air and water pollution, but did you know that almost 25% of the environmental impact of your clothes actually originates from the wear and tear in your own home? In other words, how you wash and care for your garments is super important if you care about the environment and minimising your impact. Many of you might not know this, but I’ve worked in the fashion industry for more than ten years. One of my recent roles was as a Product Quality Specialist, so I know a thing or two about textiles and how to properly care for different materials. So, today I would like to share with you my top tips on how to do your laundry in a more sustainable way that is beneficial for both the environment and your clothes.
- DON’T OVER DO IT
Okay so the first tip might be a bit counterproductive, since it is to not wash your clothes unless they actually need washing. You will be amazed at how well an old fashioned airing works. This works especially well for natural materials, like wool for example. Oh well, once you really do need to wash that sweater, make sure to wait until you can fill up an entire machine. I sort my laundry in three different bins, 30°C, 40°C and 60°C, and I only start the washer once I am able to fill an entire machine in one of these categories.
- USE THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE
My second advice is to wash in colder temperatures as much as you possibly can, since the heating of the water consumes a massive amount of energy and is one of the largest contributors to the environmental effect of washing machines. The exception here is underwear, socks, bed linen and towels that need to be washed in 60°C to kill all bacteria. However, it’s also important to note that it’s better to wash once in 40°C than to wash more often in 30°C because your clothes doesn’t get 100% clean. In other words, make sure to adapt the temperature based on how dirty your clothes are! A combination of stain removal before wash, and a lower wash temperature is often a great combination!
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT DETERGENT
Choose a detergent that is kind to the environment and to your clothes. Powder detergent is harsh on the textile fibers and can cause excessive colour fading after some time. In other words, fluid detergent is the best alternative since it makes your clothes last longer. Make sure to pick one that is natural, without heavy perfumes, and preferably certified by organisations like Ecolabel or Svanen. You can also use alternatives to normal detergent, for example soap nuts!
- LOOSE THE FABRIC SOFTENER
Fabric softener is used to add perfume, softness, and prevent static electricity in your textiles. But did you know most fabric softeners are packed with chemicals that are extremely harmful to the environment? Since the softener is applied at the end of the wash cycle, the chemicals are left in your clothes and can cause allergies as well as hormonal changes. Not that nice, right? Fabric softener is especially bad if you have smaller kids whose skin is a lot more sensitive than an adults. Fabric softener isn’t that great for your textiles either. For example, towels will loose their ability to absorb water, and your workout clothes won’t be air wicking anymore. One great alternative to fabric softener is white vinegar.
- AVOID THE TUMBLE DRYER
Tumble drying is perfect for towels and bed linen, but avoid tumble drying your clothes as far as possible. Not only does it consume massive amounts of energy compared to line drying, it also wears the textile fibers down causing unnecessary wear and tear for your clothes. In other words – your clothes will last longer if you let them line dry instead of tumbling them. I have a tumble dryer myself but I solely use it for bed linen and towels, that’s it!
- STOP THE MICRO PLASTICS
Every time you wash garments made from synthetic materials like acrylic and polyester, small micro plastic particles are released into the water and hence into our oceans. Micro plastics are extremely harmful to the environment and to the animals in our oceans. The first thing you can do to minimise your emission of micro plastics is of course to buy clothes made from natural materials like cotton and linen instead of synthetic materials. But since most of us already own garments made from synthetic materials, another alternative is to prevent the micro plastics from entering our waters. One way of doing this is using a washing bag, like this one from Guppyfriend. It reduces fiber shedding and protects your clothes while at the same time catching all of the micro plastics that are released during washing. Genius!
- DON’T OVER DO IT
As a result of the increasing popularity of sustainable alternatives, more and more brands use different kinds of environmental certifications for their products. As a consumer it can be a challenge to separate all of these certifications. It is also easy to be swayed by companies claiming to have sustainable products, just because they use 25% organic cotton or because they decreased their water consumption by 40%. Of course both of these initiatives are great – but none of them is a guarantee for an organic product. With this in mind, I would like to take a look at some of the different environmental certificates out there. First up is Oeko-Tex, which is a type of environmental certification focusing on the finished product. The aim is to exclude all harmful substances in products.
Keep in mind this is not an organic certification, so if you’re after organic cotton for example, you have to look for a different certification.
“The STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® is a worldwide consistent, independent testing and certification system for raw, semi-finished, and finished textile products at all processing levels, as well as accessory materials used. Examples of articles that can be certified: raw and dyed/finished yarns, woven and knitted fabrics, accessories, such as buttons, zip fasteners, sewing threads or labels, ready-made articles of various types (garments of all types, domestic and household textiles, bed linen, terry products and much more). On the basis of its comprehensive and strict catalogue of measures, with several hundred regulated individual substances, the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® takes account of:
– Important legal regulations, such as banned Azo colourants, formaldehyde, pentachlorophenol, cadmium, nickel, etc.
– Numerous harmful chemicals, even if they are not yet legally regulated.
– Requirements of Annexes XVII and XIV of the European Chemicals Regulation REACH as well as of the ECHA SVHC Candidate List insofar as they are assessed by expert groups of the OEKO-TEX® Association to be relevant for fabrics, textiles, garments or accessories.
– Discussions and developments that are considered to be relevant are taken into account as quickly and effectively as possible through updates to the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® requirements.
– Requirements from the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) regarding lead.
– Numerous also environmentally relevant substance classes
With its decades of experience, the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 therefore contributes to high and effective product safety from a consumer’s point of view. Test criteria and limit values in many cases go far beyond applicable national and international standards. Extensive product checks and regular company audits also ensure that the industry has a globally sustainable awareness of the responsible use of chemicals. With this concept, the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 has taken on a pioneering role for many years. The OEKO-TEX® tests for harmful substances are fundamentally based on the respective purpose of the textiles and materials. The more intensive the skin contact of a product and the more sensitive the skin, the stricter the human-ecological requirements that need to be complied with.
The precondition for the certification of products in accordance with OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is that all parts of an article meet the required criteria – in addition to the outer fabric, for example, also the sewing threads, inserts, prints etc., as well as non-textile accessories, such as buttons, zip fasteners, rivets etc. Additional preconditions are the existence and application of operational quality assurance measures, as well as the legally binding signing of undertakings and conformity declarations by the applicant.”
Brands certified by Oeko-Tex are usually specialized in bed linen or kids clothing.
Below you will find a small selection of brands certified by Oeko-Tex.
KappAhl – Some products are certified
Calida – All products are certified
Monisieur Mini – All products are certified
Hemtex – Some products are certified
Polyester is the most common synthetic fibre in the world, and is the runner up behind cotton when it comes to production of clothes. So what is polyester actually made of? Plastic! It’s made mainly out of petroleum which is a non-renewable resource, and polyester can’t be decomposed in nature. We all know cotton has a very high energy consumption during production, but polyester is three times worse. The use of water is however substantially lower for polyester in comparison to cotton. Also the use of chemicals is lower for polyester, since it does not grow on fields where chemicals are used as pesticide. Chemicals are still used though, since the production of polyester fibres is in fact a chemical reaction.
So why do we use polyester? It has a few positive traits, mostly associated with how the garment wears. A garment made out of polyester is very durable. The fibers have a high elasticity, meaning you can wear a polyester garment over and over again without it loosing its’ shape. Polyester can also be washed in high temperatures which is good for reducing bacteria. For that reason polyester is common in workout clothes. Another pro about polyester is that the colour wears well without fading over time.
In other words, here are some of the benefits of using polyester!
- Polyester has high elasticity, meaning a polyester garment rarely looses its’ shape.
- Polyester can withhold high washing temperatures, and is generally a durable material.
- Polyester holds colour very well.
Of course there are also cons to this versatile material:
- Polyester is produced by petroleum which is a non-renewable resource.
- During washing micro plastics are released into our waters, resulting in a negative impact on nature, animals, and humans.
- Polyester has a very high energy consumption during production.
Recycled polyester is a great alternative to normal polyester, since it has the same qualities as virgin polyester but with much less negative impact on the environment. Recycled polyester can be made from PET bottles, residue plastic fibers from other industries or old polyester garments. The use of energy for recycled polyester is 70% lower than for normal polyester, making it a perfect alternative when you want the qualities of polyester without the negative impact on the environment.
I have a few items made out of polyester in my own wardrobe. Most of them are at least 5 years old and still in very good condition. A good example of how durable polyester fabric can be! Nowadays I prefer natural materials like cotton or cellulosa based materials like viscose, so I very rarely buy polyester garments anymore. However, polyester can actually be a good choice for some types of items. One example of a new purchase that I’ve made is my Marple Rain Coat from the Swedish brand Houdini. It is made from recycled polyester and I will use this loads during rainy and/or windy walks outside all year round. Outerwear is the perfect example of a good use of polyester, since you tend to wear your outerwear pieces a lot for many years. At the same time they are rarely washed which means they don’t release the same amount of micro plastics as a shirt for example.
To conclude, the production and use of polyester in clothing is really bad for the environment in general. Recycled polyester is however a great alternative that takes care of waste products and turns them into new garments. Last but not least, there are definitely some types of products, like outerwear, where polyester can be a good solution!
Spring 2016 the Swedish shoes and accessories brand Vagabond released their first collection of vegan shoes, called The Non-animal Collection. In this collection not only the leather has been replaced by vegan alternatives, but also the glue, the sole and the polishing. Did you for example know that the glue used in shoe manufacturing is often made out of by-products from the meat industry? I actually had no idea.
The FW19 collection consists of 13 different models, mostly boots but also some loafers and sneakers. My favourite is the patented loafer called Aurora, available here. Another great alternative is the classical Chelsea boot called Kenova, available here. All of the shoes in the collection ranges between 800-1000 SEK which is a reasonable price considering the great quality that I’ve always experienced with Vagabond shoes.
Unfortunately the collection seems to be getting smaller and smaller for each season. I really do hope they will keep up with their Non-animal Collection since I’m a big fan of Vagabond as a brand! They are experts in creating everyday shoes that are long-lasting, comfortable and pretty at the same time. The only thing I was missing in their assortment was an alternative to leather, and that’s exactly what the Non-animal Collection is!