It's Sunday afternoon and you're dreading that mountain of laundry sitting in your closet. You're missing the days when mom would take care of it all. You’re just trying to get it done as soon as possible… whites, sheets, towels, darks. You sigh as you brainstorm how to be more efficient throughout the week so every Sunday isn’t consumed by laundry.
Maybe you’ll start throwing in one small load each day to lessen the tedious laundry day.
You’re generally a sustainably-minded person. Yet it doesn’t cross your mind how wasteful your laundry practices might be. To you, it’s just another chore on your list you’re trying to make less painfully annoying – and who can blame you?
But it doesn’t mean these habits don’t deserve your attention.
Laundry Waste is a Bigger Problem Than You Think
You might be surprised to learn:
- The average household washes and dries about 300 loads of laundry per year.
- Most washers use about 41 gallons of water for ONE load of laundry.
- A study focusing on the release of chemicals from laundry vents in residential homes found 25 volatile compounds were present. All stemming from scented laundry products.
- Microfibers (small fibers released from clothing during the wash cycle) are the largest known source of marine microplastic pollution.
These numbers are just a few of the daunting statistics in the laundry industry. And we’ve got a big problem on our hands if we continue down this path.
So what’s the good news?
There are many ways you can care for and protect the environment with eco-conscious laundry habits. Many eco-friendly laundry practices are easy to adopt and make a significant environmental impact over time.
Thankfully, many households and companies are starting to pay attention to this environmental threat.
They’re beginning to incorporate mindful choices like:
- Eco-friendly laundry detergents and sustainable packaging
- Energy-efficient washing machines that use less energy and less water
- Swapping for non-toxic alternatives (gentler on the planet and our bodies!)
But you don’t have to give it all up to make an impact – sustainable laundry care IS possible!
Convenience vs. Environment - How to Find a Balance
Washers and dryers are a staple of convenience in modern households. But they contribute to costly environmental impacts if you’re unaware of how standard laundry routines and products negatively impact the environment.
Sure, eco-friendly laundry detergents and zero waste laundry detergents are a great start. Still, they won’t solve this crisis for our planet. If you’re not ready to give up your washer and dryer, that’s okay.
There’s still plenty of ways to do laundry using environmentally friendly methods – without sacrificing convenience.
As Technology Gets Smarter, Being Eco-friendly Gets Easier.
With the age of modern convenience also comes efficiency. Even better, efficiency often translates to producing less waste and using less energy.
Bingo! Earth-friendly choices at your fingertips.
Why not take advantage of technological advancements by choosing energy-efficient machines? For example:
- Energy Star certified washers use 25% less energy and 33% less water than regular washers.
- Energy Star dryers use 20% less energy than conventional models.
Here’s some food for thought: “If all clothes dryers sold in the U.S. were ENERGY STAR certified, Americans could save more than $1.5 billion each year in utility costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from more than 2 million vehicles.”
If that doesn’t make you want to switch to energy-efficient washers and dryers, I don’t know what will.
How to Be an Advocate for Eco-Friendly Laundry
To show you just how easy it is, we’re going to cover some of our simplest sustainable laundry tips for using your washing machine and dryer in an eco-friendly manner. Just like many luxuries in life, too much of a good thing makes it… well...not a good thing.
Moderation and mindful habits are your best friend when it comes to environmentally-friendly laundry practices.
Wash with cold water whenever possible. Almost all of the energy used by washing machines is in heating the water. Cold water uses far less energy and saves money. Not to mention, your clothes have a much longer lifespan without exposure to extreme heat.
You’ll find colors, texture, and softness outlast similar items washed in hot water. And you can say goodbye to shrinking and bleeding colors. Hallelujah!
Only run full loads of laundry. Most washing machines use the same amount of water, regardless of the load size. So filling up your machine to the brim maximizes your use and consumption of water. Plus, fewer laundry loads to run!
Clean the dryer air filter after each cycle. The dryer filter is often overlooked in the laundry room. The dangers of a fire hazard alone should be enough motivation to clean that pesky lint tray. But, cleaning after each load also increases the performance and energy efficiency of your dryer. Saving you time and, you guessed it – money.
Dry like-items together. When you dry similar weight textiles together, it puts less stress on the machine and allows the spin function to work properly. That means it’s energy-efficient, and clothes dry evenly and quickly.
Use the cool-down spin cycle on your dryer. If your dryer has this setting (many do!), this is an easy way to preserve and reuse heat. This setting uses remaining heat to dry clothes for part of the cycle.
Green Laundry Room Habits That Are Easy to Adopt
Incorporating more eco-friendly habits in your laundry routine can significantly impact the carbon footprint, energy, and water consumption of your household. Even adopting one or two new practices for the sake of the environment is important and powerful work.
Here are a few tangible ways to start, even if you don’t have an energy-efficient machine.
- Avoid traditional dry cleaners. Most use abrasive chemical cleaning agents. Many of their standard processes contribute to hazardous waste exposure and toxic leaks that are detrimental to the environment.
- Support ethical and sustainable brands. We’re talking about post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR), sustainable packaging, or zero-waste packaging. At the very least, buy in bulk to lessen your plastic waste. This simple commitment on your part can eliminate a mountain of waste from your household over a lifetime.
- Use a microfiber filter with every wash. Eco-friendly microfiber filters are widely available for eliminating laundry plastic waste. Many are easy to install or compact and ready to throw in with your load. Keeping plastic waste out of our water is crucial for Earth’s longevity.
- Hand-wash items when possible. While this isn’t always the most convenient option, it’s an easy way to use less water and create less waste. Plus, delicate items should really be hand-washed anyways!
- Use your dryer sparingly. Dryers use a lot of energy, which contributes to the overall carbon footprint of your house. Try only using your dryer for partial drying, fluffing, or smoothing...or as a last resort when you’re pinched for time. Plus – no accidental shrinking or burns from the metal snaps on your pants (we’ve all been there).
- Wash your clothes less often. Our germaphobic society wants you to believe that textiles need to be washed constantly. This is a lie – in reality, wash cycles are actually kind of harsh on clothes. Wear items a few more times and save money, time and lessen your environmental footprint!
- Wash loads closer together. Why? Doing this preserves the heat inside your machine, using less energy for the next load. Whether it’s your washer or dryer, this is an effortless habit to practice earth-friendly laundry habits.
Small Eco-friendly habits in the Laundry Room make a big difference
Hopefully, you’ve learned a few things and picked up a few new tricks to create an earth-loving, sustainable laundry routine as your new normal. Incorporating eco-friendly laundry habits takes some effort, but we’re convinced once you create new routines, you’ll forget the old ways.
Let’s take care of our planet together, it doesn’t have to be hard!