Recently I’ve seen a lot of posts about the Icebreaker #teesforgood challenge. The challenge is to wear the same shirt for 7 days without washing it. Since most of my shirts usually start to smell after just one day I decided to give this ‘7 Days, 1 Tee, 0 Washes’ challenge a go!
– Icebreaker Spector SS Crewe Summit
– 90% merino wool and 10% nylon
(It’s the natural antibacterial properties of wool which keeps the shirt fresher for longer)
– Retail price is 75 euro
(Yes, this is way more expensive than your regular t-shirt, but bear with me until the end!)
Going into this challenge I was very sceptical. I assumed that most of the people who did this challenge probably didn’t do much with their shirts. So, instead I decided to test it in a week I knew I would be more active than usual: during my recent hike on the GR5.
It was a week-long trip including 6 hiking days. We carried backpacks and slept in tents. During the day I wore the Icebreaker shirt and at night I didn’t really have the opportunity to air it out, so I just threw it in the corner of my tent.
At the end of this period I had a panel, consisting of a very sceptical girlfriend and sister, perform a sniff-test to verify the results. To everyone’s surprise the shirt passed with flying colours! After 7 days of hiking and sweating the shirt did not smell!
Keep in mind, I am not paid to promote this. I am genuinely surprised about its performance.
Sustainability of Icebreaker
Icebreaker recently published an extremely elaborate (106 pages!) Transparency Report. However, Rank a Brand is not impressed. The 106 pages leave a lot of questions unanswered which results in a relatively low D-score for Icebreaker.
Environmental impact of wool
So, what about wool? Since it’s a natural material it sure has to be sustainable right? Well, it’s interesting to note that Rank a Brand does not classify wool as a ‘preferred material’. As a matter of fact, wool actually has a significantly higher climate and environmental impact compared to other fabrics.
Wool also has some advantages which are not taken into account in most rankings. For instance you don’t have to wash it as often as any other shirt (reducing energy and water usage). Also, the shirt is mainly made of natural biodegradable fibres as opposed to synthetic fibres which pose a significant threat to humans and the environment.
The shirt exceeded my expectations in the Icebreaker #teesforgood challenge. It does come in at a higher price point, but at the same time the wearing period (7 days) equals several regular shirts. Unfortunately, Icebreaker only has a D-label and the environmental pros and cons of wool can be debated.
So what do we make from all this? Reduction of consumption is still the best way to reduce environmental impact. So make sure to only buy gear if you need it and use it as long as possible.