Posts filed under ‘environment’

Went to Portugal. But I’m back now.

I know, I know, I’ve been a bad, bad blogger again, didn’t warn my dearest readers I’d be absent for over 2 weeks, shame on me. So that sign is what I should have put up before I left… But I’m guessing you must be used to my irregular posting by now. If you’re not, you better get used to it, because I don’t think it is going to get better any time soon. If you want regularity, you always have my Friday Linkfest feature at Celsias (and even that has been taken on by another writer the last 2 weeks because I was on holiday). But we’re open now!

The month of September is being quite an eventful one, so I’ll just give you a quick update on what’s been going on and what you can expect from The Closet, followed by an account of my time in Portugal, in which I rant about the Environment there and you get extremely jealous of me because Portugal is so much awesome and everything the Spanish, French and Italians can do, we can do, better.

So anyway, my boyfriend is graduating tomorrow, which, unfortunately for me, means he is going back to the US a week from now. Which unfortunately for me, also means that I’m going to be left alone in this @#$@#@$%# country until I finish my !@!#@$%^&* thesis and can get the f#c% outta here. (Fortunately for you, this probably means my posting will become more regular just because I’ll be bored out of my mind). This also means that I can no longer stay in my apartment both for financial and mental sanity reasons. Hence, this week will be quite hectic as we have to move all our stuff to my new room, and BF gets ready to leave the country. I found a room in a hippie-minded student community and will write more about it in due time.

In the meantime, I don’t know if I have mentioned this, but our beloved ClosetCat was only borrowed, as we were taking care of him while his owner was away. So shortly before we went to Portugal, ClosetCat’s true owner returned from exile and we had no choice but to hand over our sweet little kitten to his owner. We miss him already. *sigh*

In other news, I am making contacts with a local environmental activism group, and if all goes well, will work with them on a project for my internship. You will also hear more about this as things develop. Tomorrow, I am taking a break from packing and cleaning to go to a screening of the documentary “Waste=Food” they are organizing.

So I know you must be hanging on the edges of your seats waiting for the follow-up post to my last post, but I’m afraid you will have to hang in there a little longer. Things are going to be a little crazy here for a while, but I will get on it as soon as I can. In the meantime, feel free to browse the archives, or subscribe to the Closet Environmentalist (which you can even get by email now).

But look, I’ve already extended myself more than I intended to, and I didn’t even get to the juicy part of my story: Portugal. So I’ll tell you what. I’m gonna get on writing it today and you can count on it first thing tomorrow. Gotta stretch this out, you know, Kill Bill style 😉

Photo by Leo Reynolds.

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September 25, 2007 at 10:11 pm 5 comments

Green Clothes Part I – a long lasting wardrobe

 

Photo: Nicky’s Eye View

No matter how many discussions we have about the benefits of buying green vs buying nothing, there is one thing that widely agreed on: the greenest garments are the ones you already have [TH]. The less stuff you buy, the better for the environment. (Yeah, that’s right, screw the economy, I am NOT here to serve you, so no, I DO NOT have the obligation of spending my money to make you sure you capitalists get fat off the backs of the poor.)

Therefore, I am going to start my Green Clothes series with how we can extract the most life of the stuff that is already in our closet. This means making it last as long as possible, and delay the dreaded moment when your favorite shirt makes you look like a scrub. Personally speaking, I am a very fussy shopper, so I need to absolutely love anything I buy, as well as be convinced that the piece in question makes me look good and passes my quality inspection (part II). So you can be sure that the moment I realize that I can’t wear my favorite sweater anymore because it looks like I stole it from a homeless person is a heartbreaking one. (And my hope is that I realize it before anyone else does, but who knows).

The first thing you must know is that your clothes’ #1 enemy is you wearing them. They get worn, deformed, stretched, pilled, dirty, stained and just plain old. But I have a solution for you. Ready? Take your clothes off! No, really! Take off your clothes as soon as you get home. Slip into something more comfortable *wink wink*. Relax. For example, you can promote some of the stuff you can no longer wear in public to ‘house clothes’.

Consider the benefits:

  • No grease stains (and smells) on your work outfit
  • No tomato sauce on your white shirt
  • Less dirty clothes means you need to wash less
  • No trying to get your pet’s angora off your pants
  • No pulled threads/ruined pantyhose from kitty claws

And here are some other gentle wearing tips:

  • Don’t put stuff in your pockets, namely, cellphones, wallets and hands. Deformed pockets are one of the first things that makes coats unwearable.
  • If you wear a purse or bag of sorts, don’t wear the strap across your body. You’ll notice that the friction leaves pilling and chafing marks on your shirts/sweaters. Those marks get ugly really fast.
  • Also avoid labels from your top layers chafing against your inner layers. (Personally, I cut the labels off, but keep them for the care instructions).
  • In the colder weather you may also want to wear an undershirt or t-shirt under a shirt or a sweater, it’s warmer and means you don’t need to wash shirts/sweaters as often.

Let’s move on to clothes’ enemy #2! As you may guess, enemy #2 is washing. Washing is BAD, using energy, water and detergent, as well as wearing out your much loved stuff, so you should do it as little as possible. By the way, did you know that most of the environmental impact of clothing comes from washing and drying? Of course I am not suggesting that everyone start walking around in dirty clothes. I am just saying you should keep the washing down to when its really necessary.

Personally, I identify laundry by smell (unless I made a mess out of myself with tomato sauce or something, which sometimes happens too). I normally don’t sweat very much, so I wear skin-contact tops and shirts and such for about 4-5 times, pants a little more, about 5-7 times. If you always wear sweaters and knits over something else, you probably don’t need to wash them at all, if you are lucky enough to avoid stain incidents and don’t cook dinner in your favorite cardigan. The same goes for skirts. I hardly wash my skirts, maybe few times a year. I do have to wash my sweaters a little more often than I would like.

Now before you dismiss me as a ‘European’ or someone who clearly never went to a smoky bar and came out smelling like cigarette butts, here is what you should know: the trick is hanging your smoky or stuffy clothes on a hanger out on the balcony, in the wind and sun. Leave them during the day, and they will smell as fresh as when you last washed them (Do I sound like a Febreeze commercial? Sorry…) No, really. You just have to try it, it really works.

So trust me on this, let your nose tell you if you can wear that again, and hang it outside if you want to freshen it up. Don’t forget, if you wear your ‘house clothes’ at home, you can wear your office clothes a few more times before you need to wash them. And be sure you always hang up or fold away the ‘re-wear’ stuff. If you pile everything on a chair, the psychological effect will be that the pile is dirty, even if its not.

Washing Photo: stevec77

More washing tips:

  • Wash garments inside out
  • Use wash bags to protect undies and other delicate items
  • If you get a stain, rinse it and give it a little hand wash if necessary. Machine washing does nothing to dry stains
  • Don’t use softener. Besides being nasty by itself, softener coats the fibers and decreases their longevity. Many people recommend a spoon of vinegar in the rinse cycle, but I never tried it. I just don’t use anything. (a little more on this later)
  • Separate darks from lights, to avoid the classic pink shirt.
  • Don’t use bleach. Some fabrics can’t be bleached even with non-chlorine bleach.
  • Use an appropriate temperature to what you are washing and to how dirty it is. I know cold-washing is the green thing to do, but there is nothing green in a cold-wash followed by another cold or even warm wash because you realized that everything is still dirty
  • And finally, this one is a little blasphemous so use at own risk: some dry-clean only items can be hand-washed very carefully. Basically just wiggle it a little (very little) in cold water with some delicate detergent like Ecover and rinse by wiggling a little more in clean water (change 1-2 times). Don’t wring or twist, just lightly squeeze the water out from the flat fabric. Dry flat.

So now we move on to enemy #3: Drying. Now drying is as evil as it gets for your clothes, as well as for CO2. If you notice, most clothes, and ALL delicate ones, will have a “do not tumble dry” sign on the label. The heat is very damaging to everything, but cotton normally handles it a little better. But it still lasts less, as opposed to shrinking on the spot like wool. Air dry. Use a clothes line, drying rack or even shower curtain rod, whatever strikes your fancy.

Partial Rainbow Photo: tillwe

Useful tips (from someone who never used a drier, EVER)

  • Drying in the sun is great and all, but if you do, dry inside out. The sun discolors fabrics.
  • Listen carefully, because here is the secret of soft clothes without drier or softener: do not overdry. Big mistake. That is the very cause of cardboard stiff jeans off the line. I can’t really describe it better than this: clothes should not feel wet, but should feel cold to the touch. A little moisture should still be left but not too much.
  • If you are going to iron them, then they should be a little more on the moist side. It’s easier to iron and you can use a lower temperature and no steam.
  • Be careful with delicates. Wool and easily deformable fabrics need to dry flat, in which case you should lay it on a towel somewhere. Other things do just as well on a hanger, if not better. Sometimes lengthwise stretching actually works to your advantage, to counter a little shrinking. Drying on a hanger also prevents the line mark and sometimes, even the need to iron.
  • By the way, if you are new to air drying, you may be faced with the situation where you just did a load of laundry, but realized that you don’t have the time or disposition to hang it up. Don’t leave the laundry in the washing machine for more than 12 hours. It gets all musty and stinky and you’ll have to wash it again. Try to time your laundry so that you can hang it right away.

Green Clothes Photo: Ninette Luz

Speaking of ironing, as you must have seen this coming, ironing is, of course, enemy #4. Basically, if you must iron, do it on the lowest temperature that gets the job done, even if you need to use a little more muscle power. Another trick I like is the hanger in the shower, works well for shirts, skirts and tops, etc. The steam gets rid of most of the wrinkles for you. Folding tightly also works on cotton T’s for example, among other things. Also, if you are ironing something for the 1st time, especially with synthetic fibers, do a little test on an inside seam. Just to make sure you don’t end up with a big hole on something brand new. If doubt persists, iron through a sheet or something of the sort.

So there. That’s about all you need to know about making your wardrobe last. You can probably tell that I learned most of this stuff the hard way. But now you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did. Do you have any more tips? Feel free to leave them in the comments!

Further Reading:

How to Green Your Wardrobe

Eco-Tip: Choosing Green Clothing

Ten Ways to Ensure Long Life for your Clothing

Coming up: Part II – Green Shopping for Quality

 

September 6, 2007 at 1:22 pm 47 comments

Shameless plug

Just to let you know that the recycling guide  I wrote back in May got reposted on Celsias today. There are a few improvements and adaptations, including a new title. Stop by if you feel like revisiting it. If you liked this article and/or you are in a giving mood, give it a little boost on digg, reddit and stumble upon.

September 3, 2007 at 5:16 pm 2 comments

A case of the humans

This on is a little old so you might have seen it before. I just found it and I thought it was hilarious. But then again, I am quite partial to gore-y, distasteful humor. Enjoy!

I try to be an optimist with this whole ‘saving the planet’ thing, but sometimes I think that Agent Smith was right all along.

September 1, 2007 at 12:38 pm 3 comments

Eco-friendly is…

..not being a dumbass. Once you decide to care for the environment, being a dumbass is probably the biggest obstacle in your way. Oh how I envy organized people who’s head is firmly set on their shoulders.

Example: Since I started this blog, I have been very careful to turn everything off from the plug, the phone chargers,  laptop adapters and even the modem/router. I turned the water heater temperature down and have been zealously turning the lights off. And puff. One dumbass moment and its all gone (cough left cough iron cough on cough).

I can’t even begin to count how many umbrellas, sunglasses, pens, books and even various types of clothes, scarves, gloves belts and hats. I have lost during my short life. They could probably fill a whole lost and found room with all the stuff I’ve lost.

Being a dumbass is bad for the environment. My advice to you: don’t be like me.

*I continue to promise*

August 29, 2007 at 6:37 pm 5 comments

Tuesday Ten: 10 things I could be doing right now…

… if my @#$%^&*@#$$%%&^* thesis wasn’t consuming my life. What’s that you say? No more thesis whining? Well, sorry guys. How did that song go? Something about a party and crying ‘if I want to’?

  1. Visiting my family in Russia
  2. Visiting my family  and friends  in Portugal.
  3. Going to the beach every day.
  4. Writing posts.
  5. Reading books.
  6. Learning to knit.
  7. Launching a super-awesome jewelry business on Etsy (yes, I make jewelry, or used to, back when I had a life)
  8. Learning some web design.
  9. Making my blog super-awesome and maybe going self-hosted.
  10. Having a life.

Ps: to the unfortunate soul who landed on this blog wanting to know if s/he could “still wear pleated khaki shorts” the answer is no, you most certainly cannot still wear pleated khaki shorts. But I wouldn’t take my word for it. According to BF, “pleated” doesn’t mean what I think it means. Oh well.

Thanks for sticking around guys. The wardrobe series is still in the works. As my mom likes to say, I “continue to promise”.

August 28, 2007 at 10:43 pm 5 comments

Bad blogger, BAD!

Is there anybody out there? I am fearing everyone has given up on me by now.

Sorry guys… I was going through one of those ‘phases’ again. My thesis seems to be consuming all of my energy and inspiration. How time flies… Seems like it was only yesterday that I wrote that links post… Anyway, I am going to restrain from whining and move on to the public service announcement.

Public Service Announcement:

I am now working on something, so get ready for some serious awesomeness coming soon, possibly in the same category of awesomeness as my recycling post (well, I’ll let you be the judge of that). Stay tuned for a how-to series, this time wardrobe related.

August 26, 2007 at 5:49 pm 10 comments

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