Laundry & Uniforms
The textile industry’s impacts start with large amount of resources, including water, land, oil, and pesticides, which go into producing the raw materials for the clothing we wear. Certain fabrics, such as organic cotton, bamboo, or hemp, require less resource inputs and can reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. The dyes that color our clothes can contain harmful chemicals that damage our water sources and are often made from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource. Most clothing travels across the globe to its destination, resulting in a large carbon footprint for each garment, and the removed nature of this supply chain also enables the existence of sweatshops with unsafe and unethical working environments. Furthermore, a very high percent of discarded clothing ends up in landfills, which have become overwhelmed with non-biodegradable synthetic textiles.
Washing uniforms creates another burden on the environment through the use of water and potentially toxic chemicals in laundry detergents and dry cleaning solvents.
- recycled content
- sweatshop-free clothing: vendors who pay a living wage, comply with general labor standards, and maintain a transparent supply chain
- organic fabrics
- hemp or bamboo fabric
- machine washable
- dry cleaners using wet cleaning and CO2 cleaningmachine washable
- plant-based dyes
- made in the U.S.
- gentle cleaners
- synthetic fabric where possible
- nondurable clothing
- surplus buying
End of Life
- dry cleaners using wet cleaning and CO2 cleaning
- concentrated and biodegradable laundry soap
- wash in cold water
- washing items less often
- vendors which: use energy- and water-efficient washing machines and dryers
- dry cleaners using perchloroethylenes (PERC)
- washing in hot water
An EPA checkmark indicates a certification or standard is recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium: A membership organization for public entities that seek to purchase apparel and related products made in decent working conditions
The City of Madison's Uniform Management Program Cooperative Contract
City of Portland: Sweatshop-Free Procurement Policy
GoodWeave: Works to end child labor
Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment: Criteria for the sustainable procurement of Workwear
EU’s Green Public Procurement: Sustainable Uniforms for the French Navy (p. 17–18)