Green Tip: Do Less Laundry with the Greenthreads System

One easy way to go green by conserving water and electricity (not to mention money) is to do less laundry.

Wearing something one time and then tossing it into the washer is so 1990’s, but when wearing clothes multiple times, how do you keep track of what’s really ready for the wash, and what clothes can be worn again?

Doing less laundry might just be a matter of having the right system. Like Greenthreads.

“Greenthreads is a counting system that keeps track of how many times you wear something so you can decide when it’s time to toss it into the dirty clothes bin. Without the Greenthreads counting system it’s impossible to remember something like that for an entire wardrobe. It’s easier to visibly see when your white clothes get dirty and need to be washed but it’s hard to see that same dirt on colored clothes, you know they eventually get dirty, you want clean clothes but realize it’s wasteful to wear something only once or twice, especially when we spend most of our time in climate controlled environments.

Everyone I know wears their clothes multiple times because it makes good sense. I think it makes even more sense to keep tabs on how many times you’ve worn something so you don’t have to waste time playing the guessing game of ‘how many times have I worn this’ or worse relying on the dreaded smell test. There’s a better way. I like to wear my clothes about 4-5 times each, but you can decide what number work best for you.

To get started all you need are some rubber bands, bobby pins, and a few lids off some aerosol cans.”

Renee Hollonbeck sent me her video describing the Greenthreads system:

I wear my clothes multiple times, depending on what it is, but I don’t use a system to keep track of which ones need washing – I tend to look at them for dirt, then give them the smell test. I don’t know if I would be diligent enough with this for it to make a difference in my laundry, but then again, I’m not really a fashionable guy. Maybe it would work for me if I had more clothes…

What do you think? Is this easy enough for people to adopt?

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

2 thoughts on “Green Tip: Do Less Laundry with the Greenthreads System

  • Seems like a decent system. I use the tried and true sniff test. the ultimate test is asking my wife, “Does this smell?” Usually it doesn’t come to that b/c I can tell when something needs washing.

    Another good tip for reducing laundry (water and electricity): Buy enough socks and underwear to last 3 weeks to a month. Socks and underwear are going to fall into the ‘need washing’ category sooner than, say, a pair of jeans. The initial investment up front will be paid back in fewer laundry loads.

    This, of course, worked well prior to having a baby, which seems to require laundry every 2-3 days, mostly due to cloth diapering. But EC is helping to reduce those loads…

  • Danielle

    My husband wears his clothes a number of times before putting them in the hamper but I find that my clothes get mucked up by the baby or leaky boobs or get a little stinky in the armpits if I wear them more than once or twice. Also, whenever I ride public transportation, I can’t wait to get whatever clothes touched the seat into the hamper.

    I do wear my jeans a few times before washing but I don’t like how soft and loose they get. I like a nice crisp pair of jeans. I find it interesting that the denim industry says you should only wash your jeans every month or so (maybe it’s longer). I find they get way too stinky by then.

    I might rewear some clothes multiple times if I had a place to hang them up to air out. My husband’s method of throwing them on the floor or dresser as temporary storage don’t work for me and I don’t think I’d want to hang them back up in the closet.


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