Shopping Cart

Reading Between The Lines Of Your Clothing Labels

When it comes to garment labels, most shoppers only tend to look at the size and price markers as that’s where the initial purchasing priorities lie. But when it comes to the labels inside the clothes, a majority of consumers would admit to completely ignoring the fabric and wash details, whereas some would go so far as to even snipping them off completely. While we may grow accustomed to this disregard, the very idea of ignorance towards these minute details can cost the environment, slowly but surely.

100% of what?

For long we’ve been hard-wired to think that seeking out 100% cotton clothing is the be-all and end-all of all fabric choices. Little did we know that conventional cotton was doing more harm to the environment than good. Cotton is a thirsty plant, consuming around 20,000 litres of water just to produce a kilogram worth. But water isn’t the only thing its highly dependent on, cotton is known to devour heaps of agricultural chemicals and insecticides, so much so that 20% of the world’s cotton crop is now genetically modified through unsustainable farming means that is responsible for the destruction of our eco-system. Given its controversial history, it would be wiser to look for labels that read organic cotton or more sustainable blends instead. Fabrics like lyocell and hemp also have similar characteristics to their problematic predecessor.

Wash and care matters

When it comes to age-old beliefs, “dry clean only” has also been somewhat of a wrongly accepted conundrum. While the process doesn’t involve water, it isn’t exactly as cut and dried — dry cleaning utilises liquid solvents to gently clean your clothing, most of which are hazardous chemicals that can harm the environment and the chemical pollution they create may persist for decades due to their resistance to degradation. While safer alternatives to these harmful chemicals have been made available in the form of “organic dry cleaners”, there is still no official certification process for them and can’t be assumed to be the better solution. While certain dry clean options can very well be delicately hand washed cold, it’s integral to seek out fabric knowledge as almost every fibre is washable and can’t risk being damaged if you are careful enough. On the other hand, when it comes to actually drying out our laundry, airing it out is the best alternative to tossing it in a dryer. Washing and drying a 5 kg load of laundry every two days creates nearly 440 kg of carbon dioxide emissions in a year.

Who made your clothes?

In most cases, the place that ends up manufacturing the clothes, usually ends up as the country of origin despite having had different material origins. Which is why it never came as a surprise to see “Made in China” on so many of the things we constantly purchased, especially if they were bought at an alarming discount. Cheap labour has long been associated with the country among India, Bangladesh and Vietnam, but low-cost labour comes at a high cost to the hands that make your products. Poor working conditions, exploitative wages are some of the many problematic consequences of such labour. Which is why it's important now more than ever to seek out brands and labels that manufacture their clothing through fair trade practices.

Becoming a conscious consumer can be hard especially after years of unaware purchasing practices, but turning over a new leaf in the era of ample information can be a lot easier.

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2019-11-18

Previous Article Next Article