Reused clothes — always conjured up images of hand me downs from my brother, illfitting clothes that were not always gender appropriate to me. Today, handing clothes from one sibling to another and then finally down to create waste cloth to wipe down homes is a practice many of us still follow. Although this can be considered reusing as the piece of clothing goes through various different roles before breaking it down threadbare. While we always knew that logically this was an eco-friendly thing to do, it could not be quantified as real savings by any measure.
The decision to reuse clothing can be understood as it had never been before today — thanks to a website app! Developed by aeress.org, this free online calculator helps one understand the value of reusing clothes. It is very simple, just key in the item you intend to re-use and it calculates the KG’s of CO2 that are saved by this decision. It also displays the CO2 savings in terms of number of trees that would have been required to absorb the amount of CO2 you have saved and the equivalent number of cars that have been removed from the road by this move.
Just making a decision to reuse one pair of cotton denim jeans avoids 5.41KG of CO2 = 275 trees absorbing CO2 in a day and removing one car from the road daily! Once the ‘value’ of these choices is understood it will help make the decision to keep an older pair of jeans for just that much longer. The quantifiable emissions that you can avoid by your decision help make these choices easier. The calculator also helps understand the impact of reusing shoes, bags and home linens such as curtains. The other categories on the calculator are furniture, home appliances and other miscellaneous items like toys, books, bicycles and cooking utensils.
Recently a bike rental company was closing up business and was giving away their used rental bikes for a fairly cheap price. We needed one bicycle in our home for errands and were interested in getting this bike — for me it was the right thing to do as it was giving these rental bikes a longer lifecycle and felt like the eco-friendly move. However, the person I had the hardest time convincing that this was the right move was the gardener in our home. He insisted that we can get a new bike for the same price and we wound up giving into his demands and purchasing the new bike instead of paying to extend the life of the rental bike.
The app could have perhaps convinced my gardener of our choice to reuse by bolstering the argument saying we are saving CO2 emissions of 846 trees and removing three cars from the road! With any eco-friendly habit or behavior, it is always best to reduce and recycle first before looking at sourcing sustainably. So, the next time you need that extra nudge towards bringing more people on board a reuse idea or just convincing yourself that it is the right thing to do look online towards simple calculators such as the one on aeress.org — it gives you more reason to continue the hand-me down clothing practice we have had in our families for generations.
The writer is an architect, urban designer,dancer and chief designer at Shilpa Architects