Cleaning can be wasteful: No matter how earth-friendly your cleaning products are, waste is generated every time you use them. Even when you do your best, you could still end up flushing microplastics away. Laundry contributes to household waste from detergents to water.
Read on to find out how to turn your laundry into a green, minimal waste experience that is safe for you, your family and the environment.
Washing by hand
This is probably not a very popular or often practical way to wash clothes. However even if you only did it occasionally you would be saving a huge amount of water and electricity. It doesn’t take as long as you might imagine and if it is a nice sunny day then you can do it in the garden and enjoy the outside at the same time. If you don’t fancy that then take some clothes into the shower with you and wash them the same time you wash yourself. Just be sure to use soap that doesn’t contain chemicals that can harm your skin.
Wearing clothes longer
No, you don’t need to start walking around like an unwashed backpacker and reliving your late teenage years in India or Thailand. But, not throwing clothes automatically into the wash basket will reduce your load. Is there any reason why the jeans you wore yesterday can’t be worn again before washing? Jeans manufacturers actually advocate leaving jeans for up to 2 weeks between washes. Levi recommends not washing jeans in a machine at all.
Make your own cleaning products
You may not have considered this to be possible but making your own clothes washing soap is possibly the best way to become environmentally friendly when doing laundry. You only need to get hold of readily available ingredients from your local supermarket and you can start. You can make your own ‘detergent’ with bars of soap grated and mixed with washing soda, essential oils and one or two other ingredients. Laura from Puratium has a recipe for zero waste detergent that can get you started.
Use green products
Normal detergents contain chemicals and other ingredients that harm humans and the environment. Nevertheless people continue to use these detergents and then flush them down the drains. If you really can’t make your own detergent then use green, environmentally friendly products that you can.
Look for readily biodegradable, phosphate-free soaps. Ideally look for plant based ingredients instead of petroleum based. Instead of fabric softeners use natural alternatives like white vinegar which will leave your garments free from chemicals feeling soft.
Forget your dryer
Although there are times of the year and also urgent times when you need to use your clothes dryer, try to minimise how often you use it. If it is a sunny day or warm weather then hang the clothes outside to dry instead. If you have drying racks and it is winter then hang clothing on these and on radiators. You already have the heating on so make use of it. Dryers use a lot of electricity, so letting clothes dry naturally saves the environment and also saves you money. Not only that, your clothes may well last longer without the extra wear that dryers put on them.
Avoid buying dry cleaning only products
Read labels when buying new clothes so you can avoid buying anything that needs dry cleaning. This type of cleaning uses very harmful chemicals and prevention by avoiding garments needing this process will help to reduce waste produced from chemicals.
Use cold water
When a washing machine operates it uses a varying amount of electricity depending on the length of the wash and the temperature. One way to cut your energy consumption is to do a cold wash. 90% of electricity used on any wash is from heating the water. The motor only takes 10% so by washing with cold water where possible you will reduce your energy expenses by up to 90%!
Maximising usage of your washing machine
If you still require a washing machine, then make sure it is full. Try to hold off your wash until you can run the machine at full capacity so to minimise water, detergent and electrical waste.
Although not everyone can go completely zero waste there are lots of ways anyone can help to improve the environment and their own health by avoiding chemicals and waste. Avoiding microplastics, petroleum products and chlorine bleach can all help provide a more environmentally healthier lifestyle. These plastics and chemicals leach into the soil and pollute the oceans but they also affect your health too so by adopting some of these ways you will help yourself and those around you.