How often do you need to wash clothes in the tropics? And why should you care about wearing your clothes for longer?
Can I dare to wear clothes for longer without washing?
I rose up to the challenge with the UK-based BAM Bamboo Clothing in no less than their Yoga gear – the lovely transform bamboo yoga top and stance bamboo yoga pants , both made from a lightweight bamboo jersey (a mix of bamboo viscose, organic cotton and elastane). BAM was founded by David Gordon, an award-winning pole vaulter, who has set his sights in establishing the climate positive company as impact positive by 2030.
While I’m not a big fan of the no-showering movement in the tropical heat, during Delhi winters, several days would happily pass before I snuck my toe in the water. (I was a kid, so it’s completely acceptable!) But when it comes to clothes, wearing them longer before washing was a given. Jeans and trousers were worn a couple of times before washing, saris were spot cleaned and gently hand-washed or dry cleaned only when absolutely necessary, while nightwear would be swapped out every alternate day.
How would a not-too-sweaty yoga session hold up for bamboo clothing?
Why Bamboo clothing?
My yoga set (along with a heavy weight stretch twill bamboo jacket) arrived smoothly within 10 days, packed in industrial compostable bags, in a kraft box. Unpacked, I was ready to go.
BAM computed that 26% of their clothing’s carbon emissions during their lifecycle was due to washing clothes in the washing machine. So, the #DareToWearLonger challenge looks at wearing clothes at least twice or longer before plopping them in the washing machine.
But clothes get pongy, when air mingles with perspiration, thanks to the oodles of bacteria floating around. Just think about how icky it gets when you wear synthetic workout clothing.
So how does bamboo fabric work? They say that the fibre is structured to absorb moisture. (They say it’s a whopping 300% more absorbent than organic cotton!) So, expect to stay fresher for longer.
My yoga routine is gentle, to support my lower back and give my body a good stretch. It begins with meditation and ends with gentle pranayama. The silky soft yoga gear (fitting just right – not too tight nor too lose) helped me limber into the tough ones and slide easily into sequences. It was a breeze. I could wear the top for 2 days and the pants for 3 without breaking into a sweat. With peak humidity as the monsoons recede, and under a fan, I did pretty good.
Breaking down washing
Today, we don’t think twice before heaving clothes into the laundry. After all, it’s so easy. Washing fussy, diaphanous, and delicate clothing is so simple. You don’t blink twice before tossing delicate lingerie or kora cotton tops in the washing machine?
But before you plug it in, consider this. According to this piece in The Sunday Times, washing clothes comprises 15% of water consumed in a home, and even reducing one wash a week can save a staggering 2,600 litres a year. In India, it’s especially important, considering that nearly half our population, or 600 million people, or nearly are facing water distress. It’s hot and water shortages are a reality, thus by conserving this precious resource will add more than a drop. By wearing out clothes longer (A detailed blog post is coming up soon), we can conserve this precious resource. Easy tips? By good hygiene practices (read our piece on natural deodorants) spot cleaning and handwashing, switching to green detergents and wearing comfortable fabrics such as organic cotton and bamboo, which suit our climate.
The future of bamboo clothing
BAM’s workout clothes were softly contoured and nicely stretchy while the jacket was a warm weather breaker. While I haven’t seen many local brands create bamboo clothing, the fabric is something that works well in this weather. With global shipping so convenient, it’s a great addition to your closet.
What I really appreciate is BAMs commitment to the planet, people and Pandas. BAM brings out a detailed impact report. In 2020, they developed recycled clothing, planted 8,100 mangroves and became climate positive. (Means they offset 100% emissions related to the business as well as 50 washes per item of clothing sold.) Plus, the Pandas have enough bamboo to chomp on. (The bamboo comes from separate plantations).
So, would you #DareToWearForLonger?