Keep it bright, just not white!

Crisp white uniforms in school assemblies make a pretty picture. It’s a pain, keeping white dress white. But is the effort that mothers put in to keep it white worth it?

I don’t know what school authorities have in mind before they decide the colour of school uniforms. But making the lives of moms simple is not one of them.

Which shade of white? Pic: Meera K.

Many schools have white uniforms to be worn daily, or on the days they have the sports period. You send the child out in a crisp white shirt and shorts in the morning, by the end of the day you encounter him in a garb quite unlike the morning version. Large patches of reddish-orange on the back are remnants of playtime in school. A big blue spot on the shirt where the ink pen leaked and brown stains down the front, indicating the rajma she had for lunch.

What can you do:
Try to influence schools to switch to dull or darker colours,
Use soapnut or reeta for regular clothes.
Use less harmful substances like sodium bicarbonate and vinegar.

My son’s uniform is a T-shirt with the house colour (blue) and a loose comfortable trackpant. Thank heavens. But his cricket uniform is white. And he does a dive a lot for catches. It is a huge task to bring the uniform back to its former glory.

A Toxic link report on India Together says: ‘Synthetic detergent powders consist of surface-active agents, builders and fillers. In addition they have additives like anti re-deposition agents, optical fibre brighteners (whitening agents), bluing agents, bleaching agents, foam regulators, organic sequestering agents, enzymes, perfumers, and substances that regulate the density and assure crispness of the material they are used on.’

You (or your domestic help) spend an hour of backbreaking labour, scrubbing and machine washing it back to spick and span with cuff and collar cleaner, bleach and heavy duty detergents.

Imagine the impact on the environment with all the chemicals, just to have clean uniforms. Phosphates in detergents affect plants as well as aquatic life when they percolate into soil and water. They leave residues in the clothes and irritate our skin.

With more and more women working, spending time in such unproductive work is not worth it. Let’s face it, keeping uniforms clean is always, always a mother’s job! Would we not like to spend that time with the child instead?

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