Most individuals who practice sustainability recognize cloth-based alternatives as one of the most sustainable replacements to their single-use counterparts. Eco-bags in place for plastic bags, and cloth nappies for disposable diapers, are some of these alternatives that we have mentioned in previous blogs.
While sustainability enthusiasts love these cloth-based alternatives, there is an aspect to them commonly left unexamined—their washing process. This brings us to the ultimate question: are cloth-based substitutes really that sustainable? This especially focuses on the carbon footprint involved in washing these cloth substitutes.
This week’s blog looks into the environmental impact of doing the laundry. Truly, your washing of dirty clothes is a very small part of every day, but you may be surprised to know how it actually plays a big part in living a green lifestyle.
What Is the Most Environmentally Friendly Way to Wash Clothes?
There are many ways to greenify your method of doing laundry. Your options range from your choice of washing machine and detergent to your laundry schedule.
What we first thought of as an ordinary household chore actually holds so much sustainable potential. When in the topic of eco-friendly ways of washing your clothes and other cloth-based objects, the best answer would be to wash them traditionally, by hand. However, today’s pacing and lifestyle make it difficult to squeeze in such manual labor. The good news is, there are many more ways to transform your laundry duty into one green practice. To help you reduce the carbon footprint involved in doing your laundry, here are some tips:
- Use the right kind of washer.
What is the right kind of washer? High-efficiency washers are professionals’ best recommendation. Front-load washers, also known as horizontal axis machines, are the best examples of these “high efficiency” models. These washers use less water, about an average of 21.5 gallons per load, compared to their older model counterparts that use 40 gallons of water. Consequently, they use less electricity because of the decreased amount of water involved in its functioning.
Take your energy-saving efforts a step further, by skipping the dryer and choosing to hang the laundry under the sun instead.
- Choose a “green” detergent.
You should skip the conventional detergents and go straight to the eco-friendly selection. Eco-friendly detergents are produced following environmentally conscious standards. Their contents are free of toxins that do not only harm the environment but your family’s health in the long run. Experts point out that plant-based variants are also phosphate-free, biodegradable, and were not tested on animals. It’s a big plus if your detergents come in recyclable packages or if the supplier offers re-filling services.
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- Plan out your laundry schedule appropriately.
Do the laundry less. This follows the logic that the less time you spend using your washer, the less water and energy is consumed. Don’t get us wrong. This does not mean leaving a mountain of clothes unwashed for months. Instead, this encourages you to be more strategic in planning out how regularly you should do your laundry. Wash them in batches to maximize the maximum load capacity of your washer.
What Is the Best Eco-friendly Washing Up Liquid?
Experts consider plant-based washing up liquid to be the eco-friendliest choice.
A lot of households have discovered how washing up liquid is a very promising alternative to laundry detergents. Washing up liquid, also known as dishwashing soap, is a cheaper, and equally effective alternative to laundry detergents.
If your household is planning to make the switch from laundry detergent to washing up liquid, make sure to choose a plant-based formula, instead of the traditional petroleum-based ones. In making this green choice, you have not only contributed to saving the planet but have also saved yourself a few bucks on your grocery budget.
Is Washing Powder More Eco-friendly Than Liquid?
Both washing powder and liquid detergents have eco-friendly counterparts available in most grocery stores. The point where we measure eco-friendliness between these two lies in their packaging type.
In today’s time eco-friendly brands are packaging their laundry products in more sustainable containers. Green brands often offer re-fill programs for their liquid detergents while washing powders come in recyclable plastic containers.
To choose between these two options should be more about which green brand to choose rather than the traditional powder vs. liquid debate.
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Are Laundry Pods Eco-friendly?
Laundry pods top the list when it comes to the convenience factor alone. However, when it comes to the aspect of eco-friendliness, it has some pros and cons to consider.
Pods come in single-dose polyvinyl packages that dissolve in water. These water-dissolving packets greatly help in reducing landfill waste. However, they still come with outer packaging that is most of the time, not recyclable. Also, the amount of detergent within these single-dose packets cater to average loads only, limiting the opportunities to maximize the washer’s maximum load capacity.
In conclusion, pods secure the last position when comparing liquid, powder, and pod detergents in the factor of eco-friendliness.
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Why Is It Better Not to Use Homemade Detergent?
Experts caution against the use of homemade detergent because of some home hazards they present.
In the hopes to invent a zero-waste laundry detergent, homemade detergent recipes are all over the internet. Experts of the field clarify that despite the intention behind these recipes, most of them create soap, not detergent. As a result, the continuous use of these homemade recipes may damage your clothes and your washer. They further explain how these homemade substitutes may also be mistaken for some other similar looking substance because they are usually unlabeled and kept in a self-packaged container. This is an added hazard for households with young children or elderly family members. Professionals urge consumers to purchase detergents instead of attempting to recreate the formula.
Are Washing Machines Sustainable?
Nothing beats the sustainability of washing clothes with your hands. However, for convenience, using washing machines can still be an eco-friendly option when done the right way.
It all boils down to the type of washing machine that you use. The discussion on the first section of this blog emphasizes experts’ recommendation to use high-efficiency washers because of their water and energy-saving features.
This is a call to practice sustainable washing. Greenify today!
- Photo from Unsplash
- How Green Really are Eco-friendly Washing-up Liquids?
- 7 Ways to Make Your Laundry More Eco-Friendly
- Look into Energy Efficient Washers and Dryers
- 11 Ways to Green Your Laundry
- Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Use Homemade Detergent, According to Science