This challenge has resulted from a huge nerdy science crush on Rachel McQueen, an Assistant Professor of Textiles Science at the University of Alberta. McQueens work on ‘Odour Retention’ in fabrics has lead to a variety of amusing headlines, and inspired one of her students to wear his jeans for 15 months straight. When swabs were done to compare the jeans worn for 15 months, with those worn for 15 days, there was little difference in the bacteria present.

McQueens list of publications reads like a textiles nerds dream. She has even completed studies into what I perceive as the most dubious fabric to wear, Polyester, and found that it does indeed hold the pong  much more than natural fibres like wool or cotton (lets not even get into the sweat factor of synthetics).

So in honour of McQueens studies I plan to wear my black skinny jeans for a week straight to test out the stink factor. Why would I do this you ask (that was you right and not the voices in my head)? Its all in the name of sustainability. There are loads of figures out there on the internet that show that the largest environmental footprint of your garments lifecycle, isn’t in the manufacturing phase, it is in fact all in how (and how often) you launder it (check out the list of reads below for some great facts and stats).

We all know that clothes dryers and hot water wash cycles are more demanding on energy and that a cold water wash with environmentally friendly detergent is the way to go. But by simply cutting back on the frequency of wash cycles you can save water, energy and get a longer life span from your garments (washing, especially tumble drying is an easy way to kill clothes fast). I personally don’t wash clothes every wear, aside from those that I have worn to the gym of for field or nursery work, but have never knowingly challenged myself to wear the same jeans for a week straight.

I will let you know by day seven as to how bad the stink factor is.

Wish me luck and feel free to share your jeans washing experiences below!

Links to Some Laundry Related Facts and Figures:

Why washing less is more sustainable

What’s the carbon footprint of a load of laundry 

Are your Blue Jeans green enough 

Sustainability, System Innovation, and the Laundry 

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