Preparing for Winter: Go Green

October 15, 2009

Can I give you a little advice about greenifying, keeping heating costs low, staying warm and being fashionable this winter?   Put on a sweater. 

The government has been advising us for more than 20 years to put our thermostats at 68 degrees daytime (and another 10 degrees cooler at night) in the winter to try to conserve energy while staving off winter chills.  If you can do that, you’ll realize a savings of as much as 10% annually on your electricity bills.

Sweaters can be an answer.  Along with socks, an occasional thermal shirt, pajamas and maybe even a bath robe.  Put some rugs on that tiled bathroom floor.  The tiles will benefit, too.

Sweaters are going to big fashion news this fall.  They are in all the best stores and available in all kinds of price ranges.  This isn’t our normal stuff here at Green Business Alliance, but in the interest of helping you greenify, let’s discuss sweater materials.

Cotton: the fabric of our lives.  It’s comfortable, soft, and so very washable.  Not the best choice for harsh winters, but definitely what you’d choose next to your skin.

Linen: prized for its lightness and beauty, but not for warmth.  Linen is favored in the summer.

Wool: the crimped hair of domesticated sheep.  Because of the crimp, wool fabrics have a greater bulk than other textiles, and retain air, which causes the product to retain heat. Wool makes some people itch, yet makes others comfortable because of its elastic and water absorbent properties. Because some wool must be dry cleaned, it can be less environmentally friendly.   But carefully maintained, it wears for years.  And many wool sweaters don’t require dry cleaning, if you check the label.  Wool, like all animal hairs, is naturally flame-retardant.

Mohair: fabric made from the hairs of angora goats.  The younger the goat, the softer and finer the hair, which means that clothing is usually made from the younger goats’ coats.  Mohair is warm and has great insulating properties. It is durable, moisture-wicking, stretch and flame resistant, and crease resistant.  It doesn’t “itch” as much as regular wool because the scales on the hairs are not fully developed.  Also needs dry cleaning.
Cashmere: considered the King of Natural Fibers, it is a fiber obtained from the cashmere goat.  Cashmere wool is fine in texture, and it is also strong, light, and soft; when it is made into garments, they are extremely warm to wear.  Also needs dry cleaning.

Other choices for sweater materials including polyester, spandex, viscose and nylon are man-made materials.  While a little nylon may give your sweater some durability, and some spandex improves the fit and styling, adding man-made fibers can make a sweater less breathable and therefore less comfortable. Also, a polyester sweater will “pill” underneath your arms faster than Mom saying “school’s closed for a snow day” makes a sick kid feel better.

So do yourself a favor and pick up a few sweaters. Better yet: GET OUT YOUR OLD ONES.   Your wardrobe will thank you and so will your electric company.   Green is definitely the style for this season!


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