It might seem trivial or even mundane but your laundry has a bigger impact on the environment than you think. We continue with our ongoing series on GREEN LIVING TIPS for urban life with easy pointers on how to make your laundry more eco-friendly.
We’re on a mission to convert you time crunched, multi tasking urbans running away from leading eco-friendly lifestyles into green living addicts. To help you take easy steps towards living sustainably our founder and editor-in-chief Mirela Orlovic has compiled a comprehensive and holistic green living guide that encompasses all aspects of urban life like food, fitness, fashion, plastic reduction, zero waste, urban commuting, office and travel. The high point is that these are a set of easy to follow tips in everyday life that will drastically cut your carbon footprint because unless you cut your contribution to pollution, you have no ground to complain about it. We believe that #GreeningIsWinning because it not only makes your impact on the planet positive, it also helps you live a more quality and healthier life. Over to Mirela.
GREEN LIVING LAUNDRY TIP: Make your clothes clean & green
To launder or not to launder- that’s a bigger existential crisis than Hamlet’s in modern times. We’re all serial procrastinators when it comes to doing laundry. And it’s not just you, laundry is burdensome even for the environment! Here’s the carbon footprint of your laundry:
- Extremely water and energy intensive.
- Detergents often excessively used end up in polluting our water systems. Adding to that most washing products come in plastic containers.
- Greenpeace has shown that residues of the hazardous chemicals that are used during the fashion production stage remain in many clothing items. And when we wash the clothes these chemicals are discharged into our water system and turn into even more toxic and hormone disrupting chemical nonylphenol (NPs).
- Finally with every laundry we decrease the lifespan of our clothes thus making us buy new and more, perpetuating the viscous cycle of fast fashion.
These may seem like a laundry list of reasons to not to your laundry but I’m actually here to make this task a lesser burden for one party involved at least- the environment. Greening you laundry has multiple benefits: cost saving, energy saving, clothes saving thus saving your planet over all! So here how you can make your laundry more eco-friendly with 6 easy to do tips.
›› Wash less. Wear more.
This is a tip you will like: don’t be in a hurry to wash after every wear. Now of course small items like inner wear, socks etc are exempt from this rule for purely hygiene purposes because I for one don’t like to be stink fest! But just dumping your clothes into the laundry basket after every wear is avoidable. It not only increases your energy and water consumption but also damages your clothes. Jeans especially can be worn multiple times before washing. Even Levi’s agrees to wash less!
›› Hand wash for best results
Not just your delicates but try washing all clothes by hand even though it may take you longer. I for one find it very therapeutic to wash clothes over the week end as a means to vent after a hectic week. Cooking relaxes but washing takes the steam off. And I don’t mean to beat the clothes clean but a gentle rub certainly works its magic. Wash your clothes in cold water unless you’re trying to get rid of some stubborn stain like grease, oil etc. Rinsing of clothes should always be in cold water.
›› Green you laundry detergent
We subject our clothes to a range of chemicals like washing powder, fabric softener, bleach and what not! These clean but also harm our clothes. Moreover most conventional cleaning products are unhealthy containing toxic and carcinogenic ingredients apart from coming in wasteful plastic containers. The ingredients have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption apart from causing allergies and respiratory irritation. So it’s best to green your laundry detergent and in fact I recommend making your own using common ingredients that can be easily found at home or at the nearest grocery store. There are plenty of DIY recipes for home made detergents. If you still want to buy then go for an eco-friendly brand- plenty of them in the market and local players too. These are gentle to your laundry and the environment.
›› Don’t let the micro-fibres escape with Guppy Friend washing bag
You think only plastic waste litters our water bodies? Micro fibres from fabrics especially synthetic materials are a more alarming issue. And these micro fibres get into our water systems due to laundry making their way from our washing machines into rivers and oceans. According to a research team from the University of California at Santa Barbara a city of 100,000 inhabitants releases a wash-related volume of microfibers equivalent to 15,000 plastic bags. So a city the size of Berlin may be responsible for generating microfibres equivalent to 540,000 plastic bags – every single day! UrbanMeisters’ green product hunt discovered Guppy Friend– an amazing washing aid that filters out the tiniest microfibers that are released from textiles during washing. We’re proud to be the first ones to bring the product to you- even before their high profile discovery by The Guardian and endorsement by leading ethical wear label Patagonia.
›› Reduce use of dryer & iron
Another handy tip is to avoid using a dryer unless it’s an emergency. Use a clothesline or stand to facilitate natural drying. Excessive heat from dyers is harmful for clothes. Big energy saver move too. I will take out another boring chore from the laundry list for you- ironing. Iron your clothes strictly when needed and certain items like denims don’t need it at all. I use a simple trick to get rid of creases and wrinkles- immediately hang my clothes on a hanger while they are still wet. It works well for most fabrics.
›› Say NO to dry cleaning
Don’t fall for the DRY CLEAN ONLY clothes tag. It’s neither healthy nor green- it uses harmful petroleum based chemical commonly called PERC to clean clothes which has adverse effects on our health and pollutes the air too. Dry cleaning establishments are also energy guzzlers. So go easy on this modern day convenience. Even expensive and delicate materials like cashmere and silk can be safely washed by hand. And if you absolutely need to dry-clean then opt for eco-friendly dry-cleaners. Many such green establishments are opening up in cities like Blanc in London which we featured in our London vs Paris sustainable start-ups face-off. Blanc uses only non-toxic, biodegradable natural detergents and pure water in low energy machines, they’re paper and plastic free, conducting all administrative work online and using only biodegradable packaging, and they’re super tight on quality control too. For an in-depth look at how dry-cleaning and substances used in the process impact health and environment check out my fellow ethical blogger The Peahen’s comprehensive guide on dry-cleaning here.
These 5 tips may not help in making laundry a fun task but these will certainly reduce the impact it has on the environment and make your more energy efficient. Do send us your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or post your tip on social media with #GreeningIsWinning & tag @urbanmeisters (on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter). Let’s share our green living hacks.