Green washing, not greenwashing
Top 7 eco-friendly laundry tips
Words— Mylène Genty
Anyone serious about their clothing should know by now that caring is one of the most important aspects of the lifecycle of a garment. While the laundry aspect is crucial on the individual level, it also plays a key part in our ecological footprint. Some of us know that fashion is the second most polluting industry, but what it implies is that damages aren’t exclusive to the production and distribution stages. Pollution and waste also happen throughout the lifecycle of a garment.
For example, the simple action of washing your clothes is fundamentally harmful to the ecosystem. First, there’s a high energy request for washing and drying machines. Then there's the detergent issue, which doesn’t completely degrade and contaminate our water supplies with chemicals. Synthetic fibres, when washed, also release microplastic. The list goes on—and while that’s damning, there are a few relatively simple steps one can take to reduce its ecological impact.
Reduce the number of loads
Water waste is critical. Studies show that old washers will use approximately 40 to 45 gallons of water, whereas new, high-efficiency washers use about 14 to 25 gallons per load. These are significant amounts of water, which can have its impact reduced when reducing the number of loads on a weekly basis.
Use cold water
According to the EPA, hot water heating accounts for ‘’about 90 percent of the energy our machine uses to wash clothes — only 10 percent goes to electricity used by the washer motor.’’ Cold-water washing also means that your clothes are less likely to shrink or fade. If you need more convincing, then simply know that switching to cold water will inevitably make you save a few bucks on your electricity bill.
Get yourself an energy-efficient washing machine
Don’t take this as permission to replace a current machine that’s running just fine! If you’re in the market for a new washer or dryer though, consider buying an energy-efficient model: it’ll save both water and energy while lowering your electricity bills.
Hang clothes to dry
While time effective, clothes dryers can cause wear and strain on your garments when it’s tossed and tumbled in high heat over time. Keeping your clothes out the dryer extends their life, reduces energy use, and cuts costs. Bonus: Indoor rack drying during winter doubles as a humidifier!
Make your own detergent
Another option that’s great for your wallet. Home-made formulas are trustworthy: the recipes have often been the same for generations, and for a reason. To make your own detergent, simply use safe-for-the-environment ingredients that are already in your pantry like natural soap bar, sodium bicarbonate, soda ash, water and essential oils.
Change your detergent
If DIY is not for you, choosing natural products sure helps. Natural products to be free of chlorine bleach, synthetic fragrance, dyes, and optical brighteners. Be sure to read the fine print when shopping: they’re usually plant-based (not petroleum), contain biodegradable surfactants, and are often specifically formulated to perform well in cold water.
Forget dryer sheets
Arguably a useless product, dryer sheets are a product of the past and should remain there. It presumably doesn’t soften anything. Instead, it ‘’lubricates the fabric with a slimy coating that prevents static and creates the sensation of softness.’’ Plus, that layer is made up of a chemical called quaternary ammonium compounds (QACS), which studies has shown to be harmful to health.
With these eco-friendly laundry tips in hand, your clothes will come out looking just as nice — but the process will be gentler on both your clothes, your electricity bill and the environment.