Matt has a good post over at Going Backward, Moving Forward, about a book I may have to read, called Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things. The book documents the origins of everyday objects that we take for granted, or more specifically, what they are made of and what was used and wasted getting them made and into your hands and maintained. Matt used clothes as an example in his post, and even knowing much of what he covered, I found the information shocking.
Matt suggests nudism as a means to reduce our dependence on clothes. As much as the idea amuses me, from a utilitarian perspective I can't get on board with going entirely without. Partially, this is because I get cold easily, and I sunburn easily. There is only a narrow window of conditions in which I personally would be physically comfortable going naked.
Having a toddler, I find that going shirtless is dangerous, because the curious little monkey likes to grab things - such as my nipples. Ow. I don't know how I would be able to wean him without shirt, either.
Speaking of nipples, I am not large-breasted, but even still, I need support. Bouncing flesh hurts.
But my main objection is sanitation. We females have moist nether regions. Sitting naked on a chair that has been sat on by another naked woman is like wearing another woman's underwear. Eww eww eww eww eww. Not hygienic!
I propose, instead, going with minimal clothes in the closet, minimal clothes on the body, minimal washing, and maximum clothes use. Most of my son's clothes, for example, come from yard sales. My own pants are worn between washings until they are stained or smelly, and they aren't retired until the knees tear open. And I rarely dress up, so my hoard of clothes is small.
As far as possible I stick with cotton or wool clothes. We also have a high-efficiency washer and dryer.
So far I haven't re-used worn-out clothes as rags as often as I would like, but this weekend I did clean the bathroom mirrors with an old pair of pajama pants.