Tag Archives: sustainable fashion

eco friendly dry cleaning is possible

How green is your dry cleaner?

Last updated June 7, 2021

A couple of years ago, I made the switch to a “green” dry cleaners, but never questioned the name.  Yes, I was paying a premium, but for eco friendly dry cleaning it was worth it. As it turns out, some green dry cleaners aren’t all that green.

Dry cleaning, or some form of it, has been around for many centuries, beginning with the Romans who used ammonia distilled from urine to clean wool togas. The process of dry cleaning evolved through the centuries until the 1930s when a chlorinated solvent, perchloroethylene, became the leading method for cleaning fabrics without using water.

Today approximately 80% of dry cleaners still use the solvent perchloroethylene or “perc”. However, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers perc both a health and environmental hazard.

In the 1990s the United States Environmental Protection Agency began to regulate dry cleaning chemicals and encourage commercial cleaners to use safer, more eco friendly solvents. The use of these solvents became known as “Green Dry Cleaning”.

eco friendly dry cleaning is possible

What Is Green Dry Cleaning?

 

As with other industries, many dry cleaners are guilty of greenwashing.  In fact, “green dry cleaning” is used to describe any dry cleaning method that doesn’t involve using perc.

One of these alternative methods is wet cleaning, which is a gentler version of home laundering. Three other green cleaning methods utilize the traditional solvent model substituting carbon dioxide, hydrocarbon or silicon-based cleaners for perc.

However, of the four types of alternative cleaning offered in the United States, only two are considered truly safe for the environment and consumers. They are wet cleaning and liquid carbon dioxide cleaning. If you’re looking for the most environmentally sound type of cleaning, ask your dry cleaner which of the processes or solvents they utilize.

Methods of Green Dry Cleaning

 

Wet Cleaning

Wet cleaning uses water and specialized detergents that are milder than home laundry products to clean clothes. These cleaners have computerized washers and dryers and professional pressing, steaming, and finishing equipment to help your clothes look their best. The EPA considers it one of the safest professional cleaning methods because there is “no hazardous chemical use, no hazardous waste generation, no air pollution, and reduced potential for water and soil contamination”. Extra care is taken before and after cleaning to treat stains since no chemical solvent is used.

DF-2000 Hydrocarbon Solvent

Some cleaners consider themselves green because they use a solvent they claim is organic) called DF-2000. This solvent is a hydrocarbon made from petroleum. Production of these chemicals raises environmental concerns, in particular as it relates to greenhouse gases.

Silicon-Based Solvent

Some cleaners use the GreenEarth cleaning method to replace perc. GreenEarth is basically liquified sand (SiO2). It functions as a silicone-based solvent called siloxane or D-5. Siloxane is similar to some of the base ingredients used in shaving creams and conventional deodorant. When GreenEarth is discarded, it breaks down into sand, water, and carbon dioxide.

Another positive aspect of GreenEarth is that during this patented cleaning process no chemicals touch your clothes. However, the manufacturing of siloxane uses chlorine, which  releases dioxin, a known carcinogen, into the atmosphere.

Liquid Carbon Dioxide Cleaning

Carbon dioxide (CO2) cleaning uses liquid CO2 as the cleaning solvent along with detergent. You form CO2 by placing the non-flammable and nontoxic gas under high pressure. Liquid CO2 is non-toxic and used to provide carbonation to soft drinks.

Clothes are placed what looks like a traditional dry cleaning machine where the ambient air is sucked out. The cleaning drum is then injected with carbon dioxide in both gas and liquid form. After the clothes are cleaned, the liquid CO2 is pumped back into a holding tank for reuse.

This process is perhaps the most environmentally-friendly, because nearly 98% of the CO2 is captured. As less than three percent of the CO2 used from each load is lost into the air, impact on climate change is minimal. Additionally, because there is no solvent to heat, the process uses less energy than traditional dry cleaning.

While CO2 is naturally occurring and inexpensive, these dry cleaning machines cost approximately $40,000 each. For many small businesses, that is prohibitively expensive.

The Future of Eco-Friendly Dry Cleaning

The state of California is leading the way toward green dry cleaning by committing to phase out the use of perc by 2023. The state offers grant money to cleaners that switch from perc to CO2 or wet cleaning. Other states are considering similar legislation.

How to Get the Best Results From Green Dry Cleaning

 

While many dry cleaners now use “green” or “eco” in their name, few have transitioned to the most environmentally friendly methods.

The best thing for the earth is to swap out some of your more delicate clothing for pieces made from Tencel or hemp. They need washing less often, so you’ll make fewer trips to the dry cleaners.

Ask which method your dry cleaner uses and search for dry cleaners in your area that use the wet cleaning or carbon dioxide cleaning process. If you’re able to find one that employs these and other eco friendly business practices, dry cleaning your clothes may be more eco friendly than washing them at home!

eco friendly active wear Wolven clothes

The eco friendly active wear brand to know: Wolven

Last updated June 2, 2021

Many of us are taking advantage of the opportunity to wear lounge and active wear while working from home. As a result, sales of luxury stay at home workout gear has surged. While lounging around in our own leggings, we started wondering… how eco friendly is active wear?

Unfortunately, the evidence against our yoga pants is pretty damning. Leggings have been gaining in popularity for years, but the material that stretches (most commonly spandex) is not very sustainable. Spandex is made from petroleum and is energy intensive to make. Our spandex leggings may be on planet earth for the next 1000 years.

Is there an option for more eco friendly comfort? Yes, and it’s Wolven.

Wolven active wear

The new environmental standard for active wear

You’re likely familiar with successful leggings brands that are size exclusive with little or no commitment to sustainability.  Wolven’s founder Kiran Jade set out to create a label that is the antithesis of those brands. It empowers differences – shapes, sizes, cultures, and identities – all as sustainably as possible.

The company’s mission is reflected throughout its website, from the diversity of their models to their sustainability certifications and achievements – bright, comfortable, and very eco friendly. Here’s how they do it…

Wolven Turmeric Pyramid Top

Loungewear made from…recycled plastic?

When trying on your first pair of Wolven leggings, you may wonder, “What’s this phenomenal t-shirt material”?

It’s recycled plastic bottles! Each pair of leggings is made from 27 of them, combined with sustainably sourced wood pulp.

This resulting soft, flexible material is OKEO-TEX certified, ensuring that not only are the raw materials sustainable, but the process of refining and weaving these materials is, too.

Yoga pants for the planet

Somehow, while maintaining a price point similar to other luxury active wear products, Wolven accomplishes significant environmental goals that the other guys don’t.  While some details of Wolven’s climate commitments are not released, the label is certified carbon neutral! They’re also a member of 1% for the planet and have passed the workplace conditions assessment.

Wolven demonstrates that it’s possible to create gotta have ‘em designs while caring for the planet.

Wolven yoga pants and sports bra

Active wear beyond green

Within minutes of visiting the Wolven website we were totally hooked on the mission and designs. But could a legging made from plastic bottles actually feel good? Could they hold up?

We tried out a men’s set and a women’s set to answer our questions. Specifically, my boyfriend tried a pair of classic black joggers and a white t-shirt, and I tried a printed legging and a matching super cool convertible sports bra.

The verdict is that plastic bottles are more comfortable than spandex, and hold up better to wear. On a road trip, we wore them two out of three days… and it should have been three. The material is utterly soft, substantial rather than thin, and fairly wrinkle resistant. Compared to other yoga clothes I wear, I feel drier and more comfortable during and post-workout. My one asterisk is though they’re a body positive brand, you’ll be more comfortable going up a size in the sports bra.

Eco friendly Wolven Care

Once you own one or more pieces of Wolven’s eco friendly active wear, the company has identified additional ways to continue lightening your carbon footprint. All their fabrics are antimicrobial. They’re specifically made to be washed less. You save energy and keep your Wolven’s gear wearable for years longer than if you washed it after every use.

Wolven also offers a microfiber laundry bag. Microfibers are tiny toxic bits of plastic that make their way from the washing machine to rivers and oceans. These microfibers damage ecosystems, working their way up the food chain to fish, larger animals, and even humans. If you think your natural fiber clothes dodge this bullet, think again – the dyes and finishes used on natural fibers can leave behind toxic residue.

Wolven wash bags are designed to catch any microfibers that come off your clothing during the wash cycle. You can then dispose of the fibers in your trash, keeping them out of our water system. Wolven also recommends using liquid detergent to reduce friction in the wash, a point we hadn’t previously considered!

Wolven’s tagline promotes their mission to “make sustainability sexy”. They have truly achieved this with their lighthearted peekaboo prints, fresh colors, and eco friendly mindset.

While it’s always most sustainable to keep wearing the clothes you own, your favorite exercise and active wear will at some point need a refresh. When that happens, Wolven’s got you covered with some great looking, great feeling options.

If ToDey every fashion label committed to sustainability like Wolven has, we’d be on a much cleaner planet.  Maybe tomorrow, we will.

tencel fabric Emily Phillips Nashville

Tencel, Hemp, and Linen: Emily Phillips Fashion

Last updated June 2, 2021

Organic cotton has been increasing in popularity, and hemp is starting to make fashion industry waves as well, but have you heard of Tencel fabric? Neither had we, until we reconnected with Emily Phillips.

Though Phillips began her fashion industry career at Seventeen Magazine, family life brought her to Nashville. Shortly after she began working for a custom men’s shirt manufacturer, she decided to make the giant leap to designing her own clothing line. Today, that clothing line consists of easy, work-to-drinks dresses and women’s shirts made from smart, sustainable fabrics.

What transitioned us from Emily Phillips wearers to Emily Phillips enthusiasts was the realization that many of her button down shirts and girlfriend dresses are made from hemp, linen, and a fabric we hadn’t yet heard of called “Tencel”. Perhaps you’re also wondering, “just what is Tencel fabric?”

What is Tencel fabric?

Though the true name of this fabric is lyocell, most people refer to it by the brand name “Tencel”, like how Kleenex has overtaken the name facial tissue. Tencel was invented in 1972. Like rayon, it’s made from wood pulp. But unlike rayon, it utilizes recycled, nontoxic chemicals to turn that wood pulp into fabric.

It’s most frequently made with eucalyptus, but sometimes made of wood from other trees. To make Tencel, wood pulp is spun and then pushed through small holes to make thread, which is then turned into fabric.

 

tencel fabric Emily Phillips Nashville

The sustainability of Tencel

Tencel is undeniably one of the most sustainable fabrics. Here’s why:

  • Eucalyptus trees don’t require rich soil or pesticides. The ingredient is also quick and easy to grow.
  • Because it’s made from natural fibers, Tencel fabric is biodegradable.
  • Though fabric dye isn’t great for the environment, Tencel requires less dye than its most commonly used counterpart – cotton.
  • The chemicals used in Tencel production are easily recycled, minimizing waste.

Why buy Tencel? Five more reasons

Though we may have sold you on Tencel’s environmental benefits, what about actually wearing it?

  • Tencel is soft… like cotton’s silky cousin.
  • Though soft, it’s also MUCH more durable than cotton.
  • It’s wrinkle-resistant.
  • Tencel’s durability is complemented by its resistance to shrinking and fading (note: air-drying is suggested).
  • It’s perfect for activewear – breathable, lightweight, and absorbent.

tencel fabric Emily Phillips sustainability

Emily Phillips goes beyond Tencel fabric

Because of the care Phillips takes in sourcing Tencel fabric, as well as the hemp, organic cotton, and all other fabrics Emily Phillips uses are OKEO-TEX certified, biodegradable and compostable. Though I don’t anticipate us or you adding Emily Phillips garments to the compost pile any time soon!

We originally fell for Emily Phillips because she was a local designer. But Emily keeps us coming back for her savvy innovations, upgrading our closets in ways we’d never imagined. Whether a linen beach dress or Tencel button down shirt, Emily creates sustainable fashion that’s many steps ahead, yet timeless enough to last years.