The clothing industry, with its fast fashion trends and side effects, has long been standing in the spotlight in the discourse on environmental impact of textiles. And now, with giant companies like H&M and Zara introducing market strategies on recycling and reuse of clothes, the clothing industry inevitably becomes even more top of mind.
One textile, however, tends to go unnoticed in this context.
Bed textiles, or bedding, are underestimated for their environmental impact, says Shreeya Mali. From manufacturing of fabric to consumer usage they contribute to large amount of CO2 emissions and other environmental issues. In Sweden, the consumption rate of bed clothing has in addition only been increasing over the past 10 years. Due to fast fashion trends, consumers’ expectations of cheap textiles have led to a decrease in the lifetime and use of the textiles while increasing the production and use of resources.
Thus, we at Wellbe asked ourselves – how sustainable is in fact our sleep? And what can you do about it? Could our sleep become more sustainable when we stay at a hotel which reuses bed linen and use professional, hence more efficient, laundry services? Or would the more frequent changing of bed linen at a hotel outweigh the advantages?
To try to find an answer to these questions we decided to carry out a life cycle analysis for laundry at home vs. using professional laundry services. And the findings are surprising.
After careful analysis we found that just by washing one average set of bedding at home the average Swede will contribute to approximately twice the amount of CO2 emissions and water compared to using a ”hotel like” service at home. And this is just when taking one household into account. Most Swedes wash their bed linens at home. Imagine if we calculate similarly for the entire Swedish population! It will indeed be huge number.
”By using professional laundry facilities, Wellbe enables households to decrease their climate footprint significantly. In this study I looked specifically at CO2 and water use in the laundry process of the two use cases respectively. I also took transportation emissions caused by for example home delivery into account. In my next study I will look closer into textile production aspects to understand the environmental impact of storing extra ”unused” bed sets in the linen closet. In the home of the average Swede you will find at least two pairs of extra bedding sets in the linen closet.”, says Shreeya Mali, researcher at Wellbe.
Today it is still too difficult and cumbersome for households to make a leap to a true sustainable way of living. At Wellbe we design services based on circular business models with the aim to tackle the problems households face. The inefficient laundry at home is one of those. Every time that you let Wellbe take care of the laundry of your bedlinen you can save 50% of carbon emissions and 50% of the water use.
So stay tuned to find out more on the results of the life cycle analysis, now that our researcher Shreeya will dig deeper into the production side.