Laundry may seem like a basic chore, but doing the laundry has a bigger impact on the planet than many students realize. Between 75-80% of our clothing's lifecycle impact comes from washing and drying because it takes so much energy to heat the wash water and run the dry cycle. So there is huge potential to reduce your personal energy and water use, and therefore your environmental footprint, by simply greening your laundry habits. Making your laundry more eco-friendly has multiple benefits: It is better for your wallet, your wardrobe, and your planet. Everyone wins when you green your laundry, so read on for our top green laundry tips.
1. It doesn't go for everything, but the simplest way to cut back on your laundry's impact is to just do less of it. Simply wearing clothes more than once before tossing them in the dirty pile is the first step in greening your laundry habits.
2. Conventional detergents can contain ingredients that aren't good for you, your clothes, or aquatic ecosystems (where the dirty water we wash down the drain potentially ends up). To shop for more eco-friendly detergents, look for labels that indicate that a product is readily biodegradable and phosphate-free, and made from plant- and vegetable-based ingredients, which means that they are healthier for the planet, from production to rinse cycle.
3. Concentrated laundry detergents have less packaging which means a smaller carbon footprint because more useful product can be shipped using less space and fuel.
4. Do-it-yourself laundry soap is perhaps the greenest way to go. You'll need just a handful of ingredients that you can find at most grocery stores and the patience to put them together. It is simple, and best of all you will know exactly what is going in and what you are keeping out of your formula. Ready to give this one a shot? Check out some recipes for liquid and powder detergents by clicking here.
5. Wash your clothing in cold water. 90% of energy used for washing clothes goes towards heating the water. With more detergents specialized for cold-water washing, your whites will still get white without the hot or warm water. Next, be sure to wash only full loads of laundry. How much laundry is there in a full load? Click here for the answer.
6. There are upward of 88 million dryers in the U.S., each emitting more than a ton of carbon dioxide per year. Because dryers use so much energy, skipping it altogether can make a real difference. Added bonus? Clothes last longer when you air dry because there is less wear and tear than when you use the dryer.
7. If you are sticking with the dryer for part or all of the time, cleaning the lint filter frequently will increase efficiency and shorten drying time.
8. Not only is ironing a tedious chore, it also consumes energy and can deteriorate fabric. To avoid wrinkles, simply hang clothes up immediately after the wash cycle is complete. The water still in them will work with gravity to pull most of the wrinkles out.
9. Although it is tempting to take your laundry home on the weekend in hopes of avoiding the campus laundry room, don't. Commercial, high-efficiency washers and dryers, that you will find in the campus laundry rooms, tend to be more efficient than domestic versions.
10. Conventional dry cleaning is a decidedly un-green process. Luckily, there are alternatives. For starters, if you want to eliminate dry cleaning from your life, start by buying clothes that don't require it, it is wise to read care labels before making purchases. Reducing your exposure to dry cleaning, not eliminating it, is a fine goal.