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The Scariest Moment is Always Just Before You Start

When I was young I would pore over National Geographic magazines and dream of adventures like this — train hopping through the Sahara Desert on one of the world’s longest trains.

I had dreamt of the oceans, of the sand, the loud clattering noises of the train, the cold, the wind, the scorching sun. The unknown smells and sounds of the desert, and all the discomfort that goes with it.

That visceral experience was exactly what we got as we slithered night and day through the vast uninhabited desert, sleeping on top of Mauritania’s infamous iron ore train. Our unconventional 700km journey took us right through the Sahara to reach the coast, where we were hoping to find a place of forgotten shipwrecks and unknown surf.

From Nouakchott we worked our way through the interior, on what can barely be described as roads. On one particular day the weather conditions take a turn for the worse and a desert sandstorm begins to form on the horizon. I had stopped to take some photographs and before we knew it, the wind picked up considerably and it started to rain.

Within minutes, the sky darkens and the winds increase to what we guess is around 150km/hr. The stinging and blowing of the sand act as sandpaper and is so intense that I feel like my exposed skin is starting to come off.

We quickly find ourselves pinned to the side of our truck, as we try to find some shelter and reprieve. When the wind dies down and we are finally able to climb back inside the truck there are pieces of shattered glass everywhere. Our back window has completely imploded and the interior is soaked. Our guide, who had been waiting for us in the back seat, has cuts all over his body from the glass. As the storm settles we resumed our journey north through the desert, anxious to find the next unexpected turn of events.

Adjusting to Your Home is no Different than a New Country

I’ve been home from China for nearly three weeks now. While it hasn’t hit me that I’m not going back to China any time soon yet, there’s one thing that both countries have in common. Adjusting to each place can be difficult.

First, there’s the jet lag

There’s a twelve-hour difference between Michigan and China. No matter which country I go to, I have at least two weeks to adjust to time zones.

For both countries, this means I’m in bed insanely early and waking up earlier. If I’m not careful, I look like a zombie for about a week while I adjust.

This means I’ve got to be careful about sitting down anywhere cause at any time, I could fall asleep. The only time I’m okay to be sitting down is when I’m eating. I’ve never been so tired that I’ve fallen asleep while eating. Not yet.

It makes me want to be lazy in my first week I’m in any country. It’s hard to want to do anything when you never know when you’re going to crash.

Then there’s the food

Two countries. Two appetites. Two food cultures. Everything from adjusting to table manners to different kinds of food, I have to re-adjust when I go to both countries.

In America, a lot of the food feels heavy after I eat it, I tend to have a lot of stomachaches after a meal. I’m not sure if it’s what’s being put in the food or the fact there’s way more dairy in the diet than what’s in China. I can taste the sugar with almost every piece of food or drink I consume.

The Next Big Thing in Fashion? Not Washing Your Clothes.

I have a confession to make: I’ve been wearing the same black T-shirt every single day for two weeks now and I haven’t washed it yet. Anybody who knows me will realize this is very out of character. I’m a laundry addict. I get inordinate pleasure out of transforming my toddler’s mud- and applesauce-covered clothes into freshly laundered, neatly folded piles.

And yet, I may hold off on washing this T-shirt for another few weeks. It miraculously looks (and smells!) like it was just cleaned. This $65 T-shirt is made by a startup called Unbound Merino, founded in 2016, that creates wool travel clothes that can go weeks without being washed.

While the brands I have featured in this story have made less frequent laundering a core part of their design and marketing , there’s a growing awareness among consumers over the last few years that we may be over-washing most of the clothes in our wardrobe. In 2017, the nonprofit Fashion Revolution, which promotes sustainability and social justice in the fashion industry, launched a major campaign called the Care Label Project to educate consumers about the environmental impact of over-washing their clothes. The organization partnered with the washing machine manufacture AEG to help 14 designers incorporate labels that said “Don’t Overwash” into 18,200 styles of clothes.

The point of the project was to make the case that the current system of care labels on clothes are antiquated. The symbols we find on our clothing tags were first invented half a century ago, and often they aren’t very carefully thought through. One designer who contributed to the project, Doriane van Overeem, believes that many fashion brands just don’t want to go through the hassle of educating the customer on the most eco-friendly way to clean garments themselves. This is why they ask the customer to dry clean them, a process that is not very sustainable but frees the brand of any responsibility should a garment get ruined.

This new generation of wash-less brands are contributing to the broader effort of helping consumers better understand the environmental impact of caring for their garments. In the end, as Bishop says, it takes time to change someone’s behavior and psychological outlook, especially after years of being told that they’re unclean if they aren’t wearing freshly laundered clothes. All three of these brands believe that the best way to get the message across is for the customer to have a good experience with their clothes. “Once the clothes are in customer’s hands, you’ve already won half the battle,” says Bishop. “They’ll suddenly realize they haven’t washed their clothes in a couple of weeks and it still feels fresh.”

I’m now on week three of wearing the black T-shirt. It’s so versatile, I’ve worn it with shorts, skirts, and jeans. It kept me cool through several sweltering days when I took my kid to a theme park. And as promised, it still looks crisp and smells fresh. (Believe me, I’ve sniffed it a lot.) It might just be enough to convert a laundry junkie like me to back off from my beloved washing machine.

 

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