Moving to ethical clothing | How long can I wear this top?

Moving to ethical clothing | How long can I wear this top?

When I started doing my plastic free lifestyle challenge 18 months ago I didn’t quite realise the rabbit hole I was about to go down.

Context

Just so you guys can get a little bit of back story to where I’m coming from with deciding to change things up…

Back at the start of the year I decided to try out a no spend challenge. This wasn’t actually anything to do with the environment at the start but to help me save some money. Yet my big challenge was clothes. I would let myself buy clothes second hand. Second hand was okay because they’d already been made and bought and worn – no more damage was being done by using them but the problem was that I never actually made it to charity shops to try and find ‘new’ clothing. Then I learnt about micro-plastics. Micro-plastics are one of the biggest plastic polluters in our rivers and seas. Mind blown. So, needless to say that my no spend challenge didn’t work out too well as my wardrobe (already pretty old) started literally falling to bits and I had to make a choice over what to buy to replace them.

For a start I chose Levi jeans, which have a good reputation for lasting well, plus the ones I bought were marketed as using less water (water usage is another – and very important – run of that rabbit hole I just mentioned). Great, so with care these jeans should last me a long time. Did you know that Levi himself says that you shouldn’t wash your jeans. That’s how they last. In fact, he’s far from the only person saying the washing is hugely damaging to clothes.  This, along with the mirco-plastic revelation had my mind whirling about what on earth to do. 

Making better choices

Then I came across an Instagram post. Icebreaker at the moment have a campaign called #teesforgood – search it on their website where they give information about the impact your clothes have on the environment. There’s a tab on their site called ‘7 days, 1 t-shirt, 0 washes’ and this struck a chord. I thought that this was definitely something that I could get on board with (not least because I hate laundry) and I did actually need a couple of plain tees – something my wardrobe has been lacking for a really long time. 

Well, I say that. I have 1x plain black tee from years ago, bought in Primark, and to my disgust I can only wear it once before it smells – and that’s not even on a hot day. Therefore, rebellious thoughts, such as what the hell crept in and I spent some of my hard saved cash on a few t-shirts. These I anticipate will last me years. I’m praying they do anyway as, for me, they were an investment – even though I bought a couple on sale. If it works and they do last, they don’t need as much washing etc then it will be worth it.

Then with almost perfect timing …

BAM got in touch to see whether I would be interested in reviewing one of their base layers. After some thought about whether the brand was fitting for what I wanted to promote, I decided that one of their tees would make a good comparison top for when I wrote up my 7 days, 1 tee, 0 washes challenge on an Icebreaker top. Their clothes are (as you might have guessed) made from bamboo – one of the fastest growing and most sustainable plants on the planet. 

I chose the Sunbeam tee. It arrived on Monday 22 July, which I think has been one of the hottest weeks this year if not on record for the UK (#climateemergency). Throughout that week I wore it every single day – to work as well as walking the dog etc. Gross as it is, I cannot actually describe the volume of sweat that has come off me this week. It’s been hot – that sticky kind of hot that is so close and claustrophobic so it was a true test of this tee. Here’s a break down of my week…

Day One

Top arrived while I was in work but I put it on for a hot walk from Aysgarth Falls to Redmire where I had a dip in the river before walking back.

Day Two

I wore it to work with jeans then out walking with doggo.

Day Three

I wore it to work tucked into a long skirt and then out walking with the dog, cleaning the house, cooking (in this heat) and on the allotment (if you haven’t gardened before my god it’s a workout!)

Day Four

I wore this to work – again – (paired with my People Tree cotton trousers) and had to check with my colleagues that I didn’t smell. They said I didn’t. I had to rush around in the 30 degree heat, much to my distress, and by the end of that it clung to me as sweat. I did change out of it in the evening as it was Tom’s birthday and I wanted to put a dress on for the occasion. 

Day Five

I paired this with another skirt for the day at work before changing into leggings for traveling – we were off on holiday! I wore this leggings and top combo down the pub before we set out for the airport in the early hours of …

Day Six

We arrived at Valencia in Spain into 36 degree heat. We had a while to wait in the heat for the bus and then for the slowest hire car company in the world to sort our car out. Then we had a toasty 90 minute car ride to where we were staying. By this point the underarms were starting to smell just a touch – nothing badly but I could tell it wasn’t fresh anymore. The underarms also started to feel slightly stiffer than the rest of the t-shirt. 

Day Seven

I’m on the Costa de Sol and quite honestly, by this point, I kind of want to change my top. Not because it’s that gross yet (you might disagree after reading the above) but just because I want a change of look but I am determined that I’ll finish all 7 days. In the heat, the lose fit and bright colour works in my favour anyway and the top is really super soft. 

BAM Sunbeam top

To conclude in simple terms I am smitten with this top. This top is an everyday champion – one I can wear to work and also out being active. I think it’s attractive and versatile and I’ve made it through one of the hottest weeks of the year wearing it with barely a whiff. If anything the slight stiffness under the arms by day six was what started to bother me more than any slight smell. 

When I think back to the fact that I have tops I can’t even wear for half a day with no to minimal sweating then I am utterly blown away by how long this top has lasted. I think it really proves that we wash our clothes too much – I’m not sure whether that’s a societal thing because if you don’t wash it after one wear you’re considered unclean…? I’m not sure but I do know that we need to cut back on the amount of washing we do to combat micro-plastics flooding into our water ways – I’m pretty sure that there’s evidence that micro plastics are already in our water and food chains. How grim is that! 

By choosing clothing that has natural fibres then you’re already one step ahead anyway and, expensive as it can be, save up and make your clothes last. Having said that BAM have a sale on as I write this and this top is on for a teensy £10 and I will be ordering another one in a different colour to add to wardrobe as I move to making it to be long lasting and sustainable.  This said, I do want it in white and I don’t know how the colour would last with the amount of sweating going on… We’ll see.

Anyway, I’ve gone on too long here already and so I shall upload the two top reviews separately. For more pics head to my Instagram story highlights!

End note – the rabbit hole

Like I mentioned earlier in this blog looking into all the ways to save the world can be unending and clothing is a great example of this because on some level you just cannot win. For example, reading a little bit more into how bamboo is made into textile I’ve discovered that chemicals are used for the process, which isn’t ideal and not what I wanted to discover after loving testing this top out. Additionally the top is mixed with organic cotton (also an intensive crop to produce). However, on the other hand I can’t help but feel it’s still one of the better options, with bamboo being one of the most sustainable plants in the world, rather than a completely synthetic product that can only be worn once then releases many micro plastics into the world when washed. If this top lasts a long time to reduce its carbon footprint and also reduces an element of plastic pollution then that’s a huge positive.

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