Friday, January 18, 2008

The Button-Down Shirt

I’m a big fan of button down shirts – I wear them to work pretty much every day. So does my hubby. What does this add up to? TONS of ironing. I’m not a huge fan of ironing, although it does give me a good opportunity to catch up on trashy TV (thank you MTV, VH1 and E!).
Recently I’ve been thinking about the carbon footprint of the button down shirt. I personally prefer 100% cotton shirts…which must be washed, dried, and ironed. They require serious hard-core ironing if they are air-dried rather than taken immediately out of the dryer.

What are the other options?

I could take them to the dry cleaner, which would seriously reduce time spent…but that doesn’t seem like a good idea for many reasons: chemicals involved in the process; the exhaust from my car while driving there (no dry cleaners within walking distance of home – there is a grocery store, though); the cost of each shirt (up to $4 for a women’s shirt!), to name a few.
I could buy no-iron shirts. Shirts made from cotton-polyester blends typically require little or no ironing..but, polyester is made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the same material used to make plastic drink bottles. That’s a little scary…but also very cool in that my old Coke bottle could potentially be remade into a shirt. There are definitely environmental impacts in the recycling process and in the manufacturing process. Plus polyester doesn’t quite feel the same as cotton and is pretty flammable!

What about no-iron cotton? Well, many of these fabrics are treated with formaldehyde – YUCK!

I’m not quite sure where I what direction I will take…perhaps the answer is phasing button down shirts out and moving to a more sweater oriented wardrobe – these typically need to be cleaned far less often and also rarely need to be ironed. Or, maybe I’ll just be a little rumpled? Or only wash my shirts when they REALLY need it?
What about your button-downs?

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