Although Earth Month is behind us, there’s no better time to celebrate the planet than the present. We can keep the Earth Month momentum going by adopting green habits into our everyday routines. Looking for a place to start? With your laundry!
In fact, the mundane task of doing laundry is filled with opportunities to live more sustainably all year long. By greening up your laundry habits, you can save water, energy and resources. You can even save money and reduce waste.
Have you ever read the instructions label on your laundry detergent? It turns out, many detergents require only a couple tablespoons to get the job done – not a capful. Cutting back your detergent use to only what is needed is an easy way to save resources and money.
You’ve made the switch to a reusable water bottle to avoid plastic bottles, yet have you considered how many single-use laundry detergent jugs a household goes through each year? Although plastic jugs are recyclable, reducing waste in the first place is even better for the environment. Do away with wasteful jugs altogether by opting for detergent strips. These products come in minimal packaging to reduce waste in your home.
Opt for natural clothing materials like cotton, rather than synthetic. Synthetic fibers like polyester can shed tiny plastic fibers when washed, contributing to the issue of microplastics in the ocean. For synthetic clothing you already own, do laundry less often whenever possible. Before throwing that jacket into the washing machine because of a small spot, consider spot cleaning.
Purchasing an energy-efficient washing machine saves electricity, if you’re needing a new appliance. Yet much of the energy used by washing machines goes towards simply heating the water. For an easy way to save energy without replacing your washing machine, just switch to cold water. This is a simple, high-impact way to save energy. Using cold water can even extend the life of your clothes.
Do away with single-use drying sheets and fabric softener by opting for reusable dryer balls. These help to keep clothes soft and reduce drying time.
If you’ve always had one, dryers may seem like a necessity. Did you know only about 3% of homes have dryers in Italy? Give hang drying a try to save electricity. The planet and your wallet will thank you!
If hang drying isn’t the right fit, save energy by running your dryer more efficiently. Use the moisture-sensing feature to reduce unnecessary drying time. Run a separate load of laundry for towels, as these can take longer to dry than clothes. You can even put a dry towel in with wet laundry to reduce drying time; just be sure to pull it out after about 15 minutes.
Finally, skip the bleach and chemicals designed to remove stains! Using natural alternatives like lemon juice is better for the environment – and you can avoid bringing home hazardous products that require special disposal.
Who would have thought the simple act of doing laundry could be so loaded with ways to go green! As you’re folding those freshly laundered towels, take a look around your home with an eye for sustainability. Chances are, there are many other opportunities waiting to be discovered right around the corner in your home, sustainable home.
Karissa Jones is WM’s recycling education and outreach manager. For more tips on sustainable living visit wmnorthwest.com.