Q&A – how do consumers impact the environment?
How often should you wash clothes that are treated with Polygiene?
As rarely as possible. The clothes can tolerate being washed, but the idea behind pre-treating them against odors is to reduce the environmental impact of frequent washing.
Under normal conditions, you can usually wear an article of clothing several times before it needs to be washed. One study has demonstrated that two-thirds of an article of clothing’s impact on the climate comes from washing and drying it. If we skipped every other wash worldwide, the annual greenhouse emissions would be reduced with six times that of Sweden
How do clothes affect the climate?
The UN has estimated that the textile industry stands for 10% of the total CO2 emissions globally and has a greater impact on the climate (CO2 emissions) than air and sea transports combined. This means that clothes have a greater impact on the climate than many other products. Manufacturing a t-shirt increases the emissions of greenhouse gases by 9 to 22 lbs.
What does “sustainable fashion” mean?
Most stakeholders today agree that modern society needs to develop in a more sustainable direction. This includes the manufacture and consumption of clothes, shoes, accessories, and other textiles. In principle, all major clothing companies are currently working towards increased sustainability. Sustainable fashion not only means manufacturing clothes in an environmentally and socio-economically sustainable way, it also means that we need to consume in a more sustainable way. To get there, we as consumers need to change our behavior as well as our attitudes. And washing less to get longer-lasting garments and less waste, is a step in the right direction.
Why should I change my shopping and washing habits?
What we purchase and how we wash is, of course, up to each of us to decide. But if we are going to reduce the environmental impact and create a more sustainable society, changes need to be made now, particularly with respect to our clothing.
It’s not going to be easy! But to succeed, we as consumers need to understand the effects that changing our shopping and laundry habits have. There is even room for improvement when it comes to how we take care of the clothes we wear. If you get tired of a garment, give it to a friend, sell it on a circular market site, donate it to a thrift store or charity, instead of throwing it away.
Only by saving every 10th wash, the consumers could save 47 million tons (megatons) of CO2 and 4.5 billion cubic meters of freshwater globally. And if we could wash half as much, it turns out be 235 million tons of CO2 and 22.5 billion cubic meters of water. In total that is about 6 times Sweden’s total emissions!
In addition to saving the environment, we would also save time. Pretty nice, don’t you think? Keep in mind that if you spend less time doing laundry, you’ll have more time for other things.
You mentioned that I can save time and money by purchasing clothes treated with Polygiene. How so?
Fewer washes mean less work. And doing laundry costs money. But if we are being truly honest, it might equate to a few cents per article of clothing per wash. The main economic gain of washing less often is that the clothes last longer.
How can I afford to buy quality clothes?
High-quality clothes don’t always match our budgets. That’s just a fact of life. When you’re in the store and have to choose between an expensive and inexpensive article of clothing, it’s easy to make the choice that’s least painful at that very moment. Unfortunately, it’s not always the most economical choice over the long term. The truth is that most of us would save money if we bought new clothes less often, and instead bought quality clothes every time we went shopping.
- McKinsey & Company (2016), Style that’s sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula Global Fashion Agenda
- The Boston Consulting Group, Inc. (2017). Pulse of the Fashion Industry
- Business Sweden, China
- European Parliament, www.europarl.europa.eu
- How Stuff Works, www.howworksis.com
- The Environmental Directorate: Superordinate assessment of measures against microplastics
- Mistra Future Fashion, www.mistrafuturefashion.com
- The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency: Consumption-based emissions of greenhouse gases per area
- The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency: Microplastics – sources and proposals
- The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency: Environmental Work in Sweden – Managing Textiles
- Nordic Council of Ministers
- Polygiene white paper, 2013: Talking about Silver
- Teko, Sweden’s textile and fashion company, www.teko.se
- Testfakta: List of all additives
- Washing online: Cleaning a washing machine
- Wear More. Wash Less, polygiene.com
- Care guide
- Gunnar Bengtsson, Docent, former head of two state authorities (including the Swedish Chemicals Agency), and former chairman for chemical safety, both globally and within the OECD. Scientific advisor to Polygiene AB.
”Today, we produce twice the amount of garments compared to the year 2000. The average consumer keeps clothes about half as long as we did 15 years ago”
What is Sweden’s goal when it comes to recycling textiles?
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has submitted proposals to the government regarding the more sustainable handling of textiles. One such proposal is that the quantity of textile waste should be 60% less in 2025 compared to 2015. At the same time, 90% of the textile waste that has been collected should be reused or recycled. Polygiene also works to help companies comply with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, more specifically goal number 12 – Responsible consumption and production.
For this to work, there needs to be a discussion about the impacts that textile consumption has on the environment and our health. Many countries have better textile recycling policies than Sweden. Germany, where almost all old clothing is collected, is ranked number one.
Do clothes contribute to increasing the quantity of microplastics in the ocean and lakes?
Yes, polyester is a kind of plastic that is a common material in clothes. Here as well, washing is a concern because microplastics get dislodged during the washing process. One major offender is fleece jackets. However, we should not exaggerate the significance of clothes. The largest sources are considered to be dust from car tires and plastic waste from industrial manufacture, transportation, and the usage of plastic. Hygiene products contribute approximately 0.1%.
Does Polygiene have eco-approvals?
Yes, several in fact. First and foremost, Polygiene’s products are approved by bluesign®. This is a certification system for textile products, which includes everything from emissions into the air and water during its manufacture, to resource management and worker safety. Even the quantities of chemical substances in the clothes are checked.
The label mainly includes materials and treatments, however, manufacturers and resellers can also register as members and work towards the standard. One goal is to prevent non-environmentally sustainable components from being used in the manufacturing process.
Polygiene’s treatments also have the Oeko-tex Eco Passports approvals. In order for a product to be certified, it must fulfill high human-ecological requirements. This means that it may not include chemicals at levels that are harmful to health.
Our treatments also meet the requirements set forth by the EU in its REACH regulation. Where applicable, they also meet the requirements approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the requirements of textile recycling.