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5 Simple Hacks to Make Clothes Last Longer

Find out how to extend the life of your clothes – and reduce your eco impact – with a few simple changes to your laundry routine

 

An easy way to make clothes more sustainable is to wear and keep them for longer. But how can you make sure they stay in tip top condition – and last? We scoured the internet and found some super-simple ways to prolong the life of your favourite clothes just by tweaking the way you wash, dry and store them. Here are a few of our favourites.

1. Before you wash, zip

Ever unloaded your wash only to find your delicates snagged, ripped or tangled? Zips, buttons and chunky embellishments could well be to blame. Before you load the machine take a few minutes to zip up zips, button up buttons, fasten any velcro and turn your clothes inside out. That way, any hard parts are less likely to catch on other pieces of clothing or the machine drum. For added protection, wash delicates in a laundry bag – or a good, old-fashioned pillow case!
 

2. Don’t tumble, air dry

Tumble drying is energy-intensive, expensive and can wear out your clothes over time. Air drying, meanwhile, uses zero energy, is completely free and can even help tackle stains. Yes, some people swear that hanging whites in direct sunshine can work wonders on biological stains – dirty nappies in particular.
 

3. Full load it

The more you wash clothes, the more you’ll wear them out, so try and wait until they really need it. Wait until you’ve got a full load too. Just make sure you don’t cram too much in, or you risk damaging your clothes and machine, plus the load may not wash or rinse properly. Unsure what a full load looks like? According to Bosch, we’re talking about roughly ¾ of the drum.
 

4. Banish light, damp… and moths

Extending the life of your clothes isn’t just about how you wash and dry them – it’s about savvy storage too. As well as keeping out any light, which can fade colours faster, ensure clothes are completely dry before putting them away. Clothes-eating moths are another issue. With some evidence that numbers are rising in Ireland, it’s worth doing some prevention work. Try adding a bit of lavender before you close the wardrobe door to put off the moths.
 

5. Know when to fold

Currently stick everything on a hanger? If you want your clothes to last, you may want to reorganise. Those in the know say that jumpers should always be folded to keep them in good nick. If you’re pushed for space, check out the KonMari folding method. And for clothes you do hang, invest in decent hangers to avoid them becoming misshapen or snagged.
 
Fancy a few more last-longer tips? Our friends at Love Your Clothes have lots more advice to help keep your clothes looking great! find out more here.

Say no to new clothes, with Oxfam’s Second Hand September

  • 63% of people in Ireland agree that charity shops play a key role in sustainable fashion.
  • Charity calls on sustainable shoppers to take the 30-day Second hand September pledge

More than six in 10 Irish people (63%) see their local charity shop as playing a key role in sustainable fashion, according to new research from Oxfam Ireland.

The survey also revealed that an overwhelming amount of people (76%) donate unwanted items to charity shops because it reduces the amount of clothes being thrown away, while 62% buy pre-loved clothes and accessories because it gives items a second chance to be worn and enjoyed.

The research comes as the charity rolls out Second Hand September – a new initiative offering a solution to throwaway fashion and the devastating impact it is having on people and the planet. Throughout the month of September, Oxfam is calling on people across the island of Ireland to pledge to say no to buying new clothes for 30 days and yes to shopping second-hand. People can sign up at oxfamireland.org/shs and start their 30-day challenge at any time.

Michael McIlwaine, Oxfam Ireland’s Head of Retail, said: “Cheap production and plummeting prices when it comes to clothes means the items we buy often have a shorter lifespan, with more and more ending up in landfill before they should. In Ireland, 225 tonnes of textile are dumped every year. In the UK, 11 million items of clothing are thrown away every week. Throwaway fashion is putting increasing pressure on our planet and its people – and it’s not sustainable.

“Our shops are part of the solution by offering people a way to reduce the amount of items they’re sending to landfill through donating as well as a way to reuse by shopping second-hand and giving clothes, accessories and more a new lease of life. By donating and shopping in-store, you’re also helping to raise vital funds for people living in poverty worldwide, including those affected by climate change.

“We are asking people to join us on a journey to a more sustainable lifesyle, starting with the clothes we wear. Throughout September, we’re calling on people to pledge to say no to buying news clothes for 30 days. They can sign-up and start at any time through oxfamireland.org/shs and we’ll be with them every step of the way, sending top tips, inspiration and more to make the pledge a breeze.“

To take the pledge, visit: www.oxfamireland.org/shs

ENDS

For interviews, images or more information, please get in touch:

ROI:     Alice Dawson-Lyons on 00 353 (0) 83 198 1869 / alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org

NI:        Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  • The survey was commissioned by Oxfam and conducted by Empathy Research in 2019. The full methodology and research data is available on request.
  • Oxfam works across many areas of fashion: collaborating with big brands to recycle and reuse stock; joining forces with fashion houses to improve conditions in their supply chains; fighting to improve garment workers’ rights; and campaigning on climate change.
  • Across its programmes, Oxfam is tackling the impact of the climate crisis. They work with communities to prepare for unpredictable weather and disasters as a result of climate change and are there to help when the worst does happen, from drought to floods and earthquakes.
  • Oxfam has 47 shops across the island of Ireland, selling high-quality pre-loved clothes, accessories, handbags, shoes and more. To find the nearest Oxfam shop, visit www.oxfamireland.org/shops
  • Irish people dump 225,000 tonnes of clothing every year. Source: http://re-dress.ie/when-fashion-is-finished-garment-end-of-life-solutions/

 

Five Reasons to Rethink Where You Shop

1 - Water Beats Poverty

From growing the cotton to the dyeing process, it can take a whopping estimated 10,000 litres of water to make just one pair of jeans and one t-shirt. To put this into context, it would take more than 13 years to drink that much water. Millions of pairs of jeans are sold in Ireland every year. But with so many people around the world living without safe, clean water – and global demand for water continuing to rise – you’ve got to wonder if such a thirst for fashion can go on. 
 
When you shop for secondhand jeans at Oxfam, you’ll be helping to make sure that families around the world get the water they need. That’s because the money raised goes into our work to help communities worldwide beat poverty for good. This includes providing clean, safe water – something we all need to live a healthy, dignified life. In fact, in the words of Takudzwa, an Oxfam water engineer in Zimbabwe, water IS life.

Meet Taku, one of our amazing water engineers | Oxfam Ireland

2 - Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

If you’re trying to live a little greener, you’ve probably thought about the way you travel, maybe even what you eat.  But many of us haven’t even considered the contents of our wardrobes. The carbon footprint of one new shirt is bigger than driving a car for 55km while the textile industry accounts for more of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions than international aviation and shipping combined.
 

3 - 'True Cost' of Fashion

Many garment industry workers in countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia don’t receive a living wage despite working in dangerous conditions. This pay injustice keeps families trapped in a cycle of poverty. In some cases, workers are expected to meet tight deadlines, while discrimination and harassment from management continues to be a major concern. This hidden reality of fast fashion has many unseen victims. 
 

4 - Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle

Every year in Ireland, 225,000 tonnes of clothing end up in landfill. Thankfully, there’s a really easy way we can all have an instant impact – by wearing and caring for clothes for longer. And by recycling or donating the things we don’t want. Millions of items could be saved from landfill every week. Donate your clothes to Oxfam and you’ll be helping to tackle landfill waste – even if your clothes don’t sell in our shops. Because any items that don’t find a new home are sent to Wastesaver, Oxfam’s huge sorting and recycling centre, which saves around 12,000 tonnes of clothing from landfill every year.

5 - Affordable Style

Imagine it’s the end of the month and you can just about see that long-awaited payslip around the corner. On payday, do you hit the high street and drop a hefty portion of that new payslip on some trousers? Or do you pop into your local Oxfam shop to explore its selection of stylish, affordable trousers? Shop with us and you’ll be helping us to fight poverty today – and beat it for good. 

Sign the pledge to say no to new clothes for 30 days. Instead, pop into your local Oxfam shop today to find your next favourite outfit.

The Rohingya crisis: a matter of life and death

On 25 August 2017, the Myanmar military began a brutal crackdown on Rohingya communities causing more than 700,000 people to flee to Bangladesh. Since then, refugees having been living in camps and Bangladesh communities with little hope for the future. Refugee and Bangladeshi communities are intertwined, and harmony between them is essential for the security and peace of mind. Elizabeth Hallinan, Oxfam’s Advocacy Manager in the Rohingya crisis explains why we must move beyond the emergency response in Bangladesh and give people better infrastructure and the chance to earn and learn.

For over a year, I have been working in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar where I have seen the refugee and host communities settle into a life together. One member of the Bangladeshi host community with a keen sense of history is Abu Jahed from the Teknaf area. His life story demonstrates the intertwined histories of Rakhine and Cox’s Bazar. 

Abu Jahed at his home in the Teknaf area. Photo credit: Mutasim Billah/Oxfam

Situated between the Bay of Bengal to the west and the Naf River to the east, Teknaf is a peninusula with paddy fields and river embankments from where you can see beyond to the high green hills of Myanmar. Two years ago, Bangladeshi villagers watched smoke rising from these hills and prepared themselves for the new arrivals. 

Safety in Bangladesh

Abu Jahed remembers those early days: “We could see the smoke of their burning houses from here.  They came, crossing the river – can you see how big that river is to cross? Many of them died doing so. Those that made it here had nothing – no food, no water, and barely dressed. I went to the main road to invite them to my house.”

This was not the first time refugees from Myanmar braved the Naf River to arrive here. The Government of Bangladesh currently hosts more than 912,000 refugees (https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/70585): about 710,000 of whom came in 2017, but about 200,000 have been here longer, since conflict in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Refugees have come to Bangladesh, searching for safety, about a dozen times since Myanmar became a country in 1948.

The fight over natural resources

Like many places in Teknaf, refugees landing in Abu Jahed’s village, arrived quite literally in the host community’s backyards. They put up shelters in paddy fields, chopped down precious jungle forest, crowded the water pumps.

“We, the local people, are dependent on three things – the forest, the land and the river.  These people have chopped down our forest, they have taken our land, and now even the army does not let us cross the river for fishing and trade. You can see why people say that the Rohingya took everything from us. In no time at all, we were quarrelling.”

Poverty and limited social services

Cox’s Bazar is the second poorest district in Bangladesh; the host community was struggling even before the latest arrivals.  There are about 335,000 Bangladeshis, and nearly three times that many refugees. The strain is undeniable. 

I asked Abu Jahed why he decided to take people in?

“Let me tell you something about me,” he says.  “In 1971, during the Bangladesh Liberation War, I myself was a refugee in Myanmar. I was 10 years old when we woke in the night to find our houses burning, and we made the awful journey to Myanmar to save our lives. People there took us in. We had nothing, but we were safe there.

“To this day, we are very thankful to them and now feel a responsibility to pay them back for this kindness.”

Repaying the kindness

Many host community members have expressed this kind of sentiment to me.  Some were themselves displaced in the 1970s, others felt a bond with fellow Muslims or said that helping the refugees just seemed like the right thing to do. While many local community members expressed empathy for the refugees, they also see that the sheer scale of the new population is a larger issue.

Abu Jahed put it like this: “Let me tell you a story… Some boys were playing by a river where some frogs were floating. The boys started throwing stones at the frogs, when a passing village elder asked the boys what they were doing. ‘We are playing,’ they answered. Listening to the boys’ reply, the frogs called out, ‘Throwing stones at us might be a game for you, but our lives are at risk.’ The Rohingya people and the people of Cox’s Bazar are like the frogs of the story. The world is playing with us. This situation is a game for them, but for the hosts and the refugees living in these conditions it is a matter of life and death.”

Refugees need legal status

Refugees in Bangladesh do not have legal status, so they cannot work, move freely around the country or access a formal education.

This presents a huge problem, explained Abu Jahed: “It is undeniable that education is a must for everyone. If the government can find a way to support their education without causing more problems for us, everyone could support that. Otherwise, what can we expect of the next generation growing up in conditions where their rights are violated, and they have no proper education? We can’t expect anything good.”

International support is urgent

The Government of Bangladesh is under a huge amount of pressure to provide for the refugee population, while also managing the legitimate frustrations of the local communities hosting them.

It is a delicate line to walk, and Bangladesh needs support from countries around the world to continue to develop Cox’s Bazar.  For 2019, the response has only 36% of the funding it needs to help these communities [https://fts.unocha.org/appeals/719/summary].

Myanmar also needs to take steps to address the root causes of the conflict. It must implement the Rakhine Advisory Commission Recommendations, including equal access to  to citizenship for Rohingya while putting an end to movement restrictions and other discriminatory policies [http://www.rakhinecommission.org/the-final-report/].

Listen to the people

Abu Jahed told me, “I would urge our government and other countries to put pressure on Myanmar, so that they stop this and listen to what Rohingya people want to say. They are asking for their citizenship, nothing else. If Myanmar does not listen then the world should come forward to help Bangladesh.

“Remember the story I shared? It might be a game for them, but we are risking our lives.”

Oxfam has been working with Rohingya refugees since the beginning of the crisis. We have supported more than 266,000 people, providing them with clean drinking water, latrines, sanitation and hygiene, fresh food vouchers, lighting, and protection programs. Oxfam also works with host communities providing protection and livelihood opportunities. We advocate at the highest levels for the rights of refugees in Bangladesh and communities impacted by conflict in Myanmar. Oxfam will continue to support refugees, working with national and international partners, to ensure that everyone’s rights are respected and that they have access to basic services while working towards durable solutions to this crisis.  

 

For Françoise | World Humanitarian Day 2019

 
“I’m proud of the work that I do. Because when I help the population it helps me as well. We’re all the same. We have all experienced the same difficulties. So when you are able to help people you have to help them the same way you were helped. That’s it!”
 
Françoise Kalunda (1985 – 2019)
 
By Eleanor Farmer, Creative Producer, Oxfam GB
 
I met Françoise Kalunda in August 2018, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where she had been working for five years with Oxfam as a Public Health Promoter. 56,000 people had recently fled their homes because of a violent conflict and were now living in temporary camps. Françoise was working with a small team, ensuring people had clean water, toilets and good hygiene practices to prevent disease outbreaks. I was there to meet people who had been affected by the conflict, but also to highlight the efforts of local staff – especially women like Françoise: hidden figures, doing incredible work.
 
Françoise agreed for us to spend the day documenting her work. It began with ‘rush hour’ at the Oxfam water point. She joined a crowd of women and children who were jostling to fill water containers from the taps.
 
“Jambo Mama!” they called as she made her way through the crowd.
She was friendly and relaxed, but focused on her work. “Please close your bucket with a lid, okay? You have to close your containers after drawing water,” she called. “Whose container is that? Wash the containers away from the water point please. Excuse me everyone, please wash your containers first, and make sure they are spotlessly clean, okay? You will all have a chance to draw water. Just leave your buckets in the queue. Let us have an organised queue please! There’s plenty of water.
 
 
The group paid attention. They all knew Françoise. Her work as a Public Health Promoter also involved going from household to household, speaking to people about hygiene in the home. She told us that when Oxfam arrived, people were going to the toilet in the river and at the same time collecting water to drink. Unsurprisingly, there was a big cholera outbreak. We met Valerie*, a cholera survivor, who told us about the lack of hygiene awareness and the impact of Françoise’s work. “The people from our village didn’t think it was wrong to drink water from the river, amid the danger. The water was the colour of my jacket [brown].”
 
“If I take you to the graveyard, you will be shocked. We used to bury up to five people a week.”
Françoise took us through the preventative measures against cholera, and emphasised the need to drink clean, treated water. She also taught us about hygiene. I used this knowledge to train my family. She really helped my family and me – she gave me health ‘riches,’” Valerie said.
 
Back at the water point, we filmed Françoise walking towards the crowd as she described how she did her job. She graciously repeated the same action several times, so we could capture the right shot. Between takes,
 
Françoise didn’t hesitate to help out when she saw someone struggling.
“Oh, I can tell that container is heavy… who will carry this for you?” she said. “Remember if you do not clean your containers the water purifier will not be effective as germs will still be present. You know that, right? Okay. Let me help you.”
 
Before working for Oxfam, Françoise had worked on a counselling and therapy programme for conflict survivors. The Oxfam job appealed to her, because she would also be working with people,
 
“Talking and teaching – it’s my field.” she told us.
Later that day, we watched the community assemble in a small hut to listen to Françoise. She engaged the crowd with drawings and songs, employing different techniques to encourage people to learn how to prevent the spread of disease. During an interview we filmed with Françoise, she revealed how her own experiences motivated her work. “I am passionate because I have been a victim myself. I was in a refugee camp and I saw a lot of people dying of disease. Humanitarian workers came to carry out awareness-raising which improved the situation – that’s why I got interested in this job.”
 
Françoise was not an astronaut, looking at the earth from space; she was not a scientist, looking at matter under a microscope; but she applied the same pioneering perspective to the community she belonged to; carefully observing what really makes a difference, quietly improving and saving lives. “We’re all the same and we have all experienced the same difficulties.” she said, “So, when you find yourself in a situation where you are able to help yourself and others, you have to help them in the same way. I’m very proud of the work that I do. I am proud because helping the population helps me too. I gain the knowledge and it broadens my expertise. It feels like being part of a family.”
 
I recently received the news that Françoise passed away a few months ago. On this World Humanitarian Day, I want people to know about the incredible work she did.
 
Françoise was a real humanitarian. She was courageous and compassionate.
 
She had the trust of the communities she worked with. And knew what mattered most.
 
Françoise let us record her life for a day and we made this film. Please watch and share.

Meet Françoise (1985- 2019), the incredible aid worker | Oxfam GB

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