Sustainable clothing design: use matters

Kirsi Laitala and Casper Boks

Abstract

Many life cycle assessment studies document that the use period is the most resource-demanding phase during the clothing life cycle. In this paper, we discuss how design can help to reduce the environmental impacts of clothing. Motives behind clothing disposal, acquisition practices and maintenance habits are analysed based on two surveys, qualitative interviews of households, and examination of disposed clothing. The main reasons for clothing disposal were changes in garments, followed by size and fit issues, taste-related unsuitability, situational reasons, functional shortcomings and fashion or style changes. Several design solutions can enable the users to keep and use the clothes longer, and reduce the need for laundering, thus potentially decreasing the total environmental effects of clothing consumption.

Click here to read the full article (inderscienceonline.com).

Leisure and sustainable development in Norway: part of the solution and the problem

Carlo Aall, Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Agnes Brudvik Engeset, Silje Elisabeth Skuland and Eli Støa

Abstract

The article presents the results of two succeeding Norwegian studies on the environmental impacts of leisure consumption. The first study presents data on the total consumption of leisure products and services by Norwegians, showing that leisure consumption increases more than everyday consumption, the most energy-intensive leisure activities increase the most, leisure activities have become more dependent on transportation and that leisure activities are to an increasing extent based on more material consumption. The second study consists of case studies from four leisure activities in Norway that have experienced the greatest increases in consumption over the last two decades: outdoor recreation clothing, cabins, leisure boating and leisure transportation.

The case studies show that the problems connected with reducing the environmental impacts of leisure consumption are numerous and complex, and cannot be solved alone by technological improvements in leisure products and services. We conclude that new policies have to be developed which can on a short-term basis promote changes of leisure consumer habits in a more environmentally friendly direction, and on a long-term basis alter the existing strong links between economic growth and leisure consumption.

Click here to read the full article (tandfonline.com).

Potential of Woolen Materials in Health Care

Kirsi Laitala, Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Marit Kjeldsberg & Kjersti Eilertsen

Paper

Abstract

Woolen textiles may have more potential use areas within the health care than what they are used for today. They have many benefits such as being self-extinguishing, flexible, and having high isolation as well as moisture absorption properties. While absorbing moisture it releases heat, and as the evaporation rate is slow, woolen materials do not give a rapid chill that some other faster drying materials have. Therefore wool can hold lot of moisture before feeling wet. Due to wool’s potential to shrink in wash, the challenge has been how to wash wool to get it clean enough for health care use. Laboratory experiments were designed in order to see woolens’ tolerance to different washing treatments, as well as their properties related to soil repellence and stain removal.

The results showed that wool tolerates to be cooked without causing additional felting shrinkage, as well as spin dried at high velocity (at least 1400 rpm), as long as there is no mechanical action that could cause the fibers to get entangled. Therefore, the acceleration and slowing-down phases of spin-drying program have to be rapid, so that the centrifugal forces will keep the garments trapped in place against the walls of the drum. Especially untreated woolen fabrics showed good soil repellence against water based soils, as the outer layer of woolen materials is hydrophobic. However, if the staining occurred it was more difficult to get wool clean than synthetic fabrics. Cotton got even more soiling, but it tolerates more efficient washing and detergents than wool does. Wool has potential to replace some of the materials that are more commonly used in health care today, such as cotton, polyester and polyamide, and improve the use properties without compromising the hygiene. The frequent washing of textiles cause wear and tear, creates extra work as well as environmental consequences. Woolen products are washed less frequently than products mare of other fibers. Therefore, an increase in the use of wool can be a way to reduce washing frequency.

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Materialised Ideals: Sizes and Beauty

Kirsi Laitala, Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Benedicte Hauge

Abstract

Today’s clothing industry is based on a system where clothes are made in ready-to-wear sizes and meant to fit most people. Studies have pointed out that consumers are discontent with the use of these systems: size designations are not accurate enough to find clothing that fits, and different sizes are poorly available. This article discusses in depth who these consumers are, and which consumer groups are the most dissatisfied with today’s sizing systems. Results are based on a web survey where 2834 Nordic consumers responded, complemented with eight in-depth interviews, market analysis on clothing sizes and in-store trouser size measurements.

Results indicate that higher shares of the consumers who have a body out of touch with the existing beauty ideals express discontentment with the sizing systems and the poor selection available. In particular, large women, very large men, and thin, short men are those who experience less priority in clothing stores and have more difficulties in finding clothes that fit. Consumers tend to blame themselves when the clothes do not fit their bodies, while our study points out that the industry is to blame as they do not produce clothing for all customers.

Click here to read the full article (cultureunbound.ep.liu.se).

Potential for environmental improvements in laundering

Kirsi Laitala, Casper Boks & Ingun Grimstad Klepp

Sammendrag

Life cycle assessment studies on clothes, detergents and washing machines show that the use period is usually the most energy-demanding period during these products’ life cycle, even higher than production or transportation phases. Laundering practices are constantly changing and influenced by social, cultural and moral norms. Even though the technologies in clothes cleaning have improved greatly, the length of time that consumers use for washing clothes has not been reduced. We own more clothing and wash it more frequently. This increased amount of washing counteracts the technological improvements in laundry.

This paper discussed the options of changing consumer habits in clothing maintenance to a more environmentally friendly direction and attempts to evaluate which changes would be the most feasible and efficient. Laboratory trial results on washing were compared with earlier research on consumers’ washing habits. Laboratory-based tests measuring cleaning effect, energy and water consumption were performed in order to evaluate the consequences of changing the washing temperature, filling grade, detergent dosage or drying method. The cleaning effect tests showed that today’s detergents are suitable for low temperature washing, and by selecting an efficient detergent, the cleaning result can be better at 30°C than with a less efficient detergent at 40°C. When washing only slightly soiled textiles or small loads of laundry, the detergent amount can be reduced. Many textiles changed more in colour or strength if they were washed at higher temperature(60°C) than at lower temperature (40°C or below). Tumble-dried textiles shrank more than line dried. These facts can be used to motivate consumers to change behaviour in order to reduce the environmental impacts of textile maintenance.

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Reading Fashion as Age: Teenage Girls’ and Grown Women’s Accounts of Clothing as Body and Social Status

Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Ardis Storm-Mathisen

Abstract

If you don’t follow fashion, you wear, like, sorta childish clothes

(girl, aged thirteen)

I think about my age before wearing something that seems rather daring

(woman, aged forty-one)

This article discusses the similarities and differences in how women in two different stages of life describe the relationship between fashion and age. The analytical approach is basically discursive, based on Norwegian teenage girls’ and adult women’s verbal accounts of clothing and clothing practices in conversational interviews undertaken in the late 1990s.

Prevailing discourses as to what represents a breach of clothing conventions are to be found in the ways young girls and grown women talk about clothes. When clothes are used in accordance with conventions and norms, they are not noticed much. However, when clothes are used in a way that differs from the norm, this can attract attention and provoke reactions. By comparing narratives of clothing provided by respondents of the same sex and approximately the same class background but of different ages, we gain access to material that is particularly well suited to illustrate the significance of age in conventions governing clothing and fashion.

Click here to read the full article (tandfonline.com).