Laundry routine and resource consumption in Australia

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Inconspicuous consumption, the habitual use of resources in daily routines, poses a challenge to sustainable consumption. For example, laundry is often the most environmentally demanding stage of clothing’s life cycle, consuming significant quantities of water, energy and chemicals. Laundry thus provides a prime example of inconspicuous consumption, from which to consider sustainability transitions. However, because of the mundane nature of washing clothes, it is sometimes over looked in sustainable fashion literature.
This paper presents the results of surveying 263 Australians about their jeans, laundry
habits and resource consumption, to build a picture of the expectations and actions surrounding the performance of cleanliness in everyday life. These surveys are triangulated against in-depth interviews with people who had not washed their jeans for three months revealing qualitative insights into influences of laundry practice. This paper documents how and why people perform laundry. An interesting finding is that people can not wash and still be socially acceptable, suggesting that cleanliness is a cultural construct, the pursuit of which increases the use of water, energy and chemicals, in conflict with sustainable consumption goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-674
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

Free keywords

  • Australia
  • cleanliness
  • consumption
  • dirt
  • everyday
  • inconspicuous consumption
  • laundry
  • practices
  • routine
  • sustainability.


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