30-Day Eco-Living Challenge: Day 5-6

closeup of sudsy clothes in washing machine

Welcome to the 30-day Eco-Living Challenge! We’ve been doing an eco-activity every day for thirty days, and sharing the results on social media.

It’s not too late to join in – and there’s a prize at the end of the 30 days to the best Eco-warrior! Just tag us in your pics of small wins and share what you’re doing – we’d love to see it and it might be helpful to others too.

Here’s a recap of the last few days!

Day Five

Fast Fashion

To produce a high yield of cotton to keep up with demand, the farmers have to use pesticides, which can cost 60% of the farmers budget and means many turn to loans for the funds. Unable to repay the funds, in Punjab alone between 1990-2007, 40,000 farmers committed suicide.

Many garment factories in the UK have closed and moved production to countries not bound by employment laws regarding minimum wage and hours of work. It is reported that sweat shops used by Topshop paid their workers only 44p per hour.

It is also reported that 251 H&M workers in India and Cambodia were sacked due to being pregnant.

Millions of people, most of them girls and women, are exposed every day to an unsafe work environment with a high incidence of work-related accidents and deaths, as well as occupational diseases. Most of the factories do not meet standards required by building and construction legislation.

Fast Fashion’s negative impact includes the use of cheap, toxic textile dyes – with the fashion industry being the second largest polluter of clean water globally after agriculture. It takes 2720 litres of water to make one t-shirt – the equivalent of 3 years worth of drinking water.

Fashion is the second most-polluting industry on Earth, right behind fossil fuels. The pressure to reduce costs and speed up production time means that environmental corners are cut in the name of profit.

See the source image

The speed at which garments are produced means that more and more clothes are disposed of by consumers, creating a huge amount of textile waste.

We can choose to avoid fast fashion by choosing sustainable brands, or buying secondhand. I’ve downloaded the Vinted app to look for a new dress for an event I have soon, rather than browsing ASOS. We also need to consume less – ask yourself whether you really need a new pair of shoes.

Day Six

Plastic-Free Laundry

An average UK washing load – 6kg of fabric – can release:

  • 140,000 fibres from polyester-cotton blend
  • nearly half a million fibres from polyester
  • more than 700,000 fibres from acrylic

Professor Richard Thompson of Plymouth University studied marine microplastics and discovered:

“When we sample, we find plastic fibres less than the width of a human hair – in fish, in deep sea sediments, as well as at the surface.”

How can we reduce our microplastics in our laundry?

Well, buying quality fabrics without plastic fibres is a good start. Our laundry routine also needs to change – we need to stop using detergents with harsh chemicals and plastic bottles or plastic tabs, and start using eco-friendly alternatives. For example, laundry sheets, woollen dryer balls and homemade fabric softener. I make my own with essential oil!

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