Laundry. It can be time-consuming, quite boring, and it somehow never ends. Unfortunately, we all have to do it. As a result, it must not be forgotten in our efforts to be more sustainable.
Detergents available in shops have lovely smells and packaging, but they can have a negative impact on the water supply. They are full of perfume, colourants and other potentially harmful chemicals. The water contaminated by these chemicals ends up in natural bodies of water and can have a dramatic impact on wildlife and water quality. But that is not all! The packaging in which the detergent comes in also has a huge impact. Indeed, about 7.7 million plastic bottles are thrown away just in the UK every year and about 55% of all plastic waste produced in the UK ends up in landfills. That means that a laundry liquid bottle you have bought is sitting somewhere in a landfill or floating somewhere at sea! But do not worry, there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives available on the market.
First, you could simply substitute laundry liquid with washing powder. It is a really easy switch and is a wildly available alternative. It is used by many, is usually packaged in paper or cardboard, and it is quite easy to find. If you are interested, check out BioD’s non-bio washing powder. It comes in plastic free packaging and the formula is vegan, cruelty-free, certified allergy friendly and suitable for septic tanks. You can find it at https://biod.co.uk/shop/laundry/bio-d-concentrated-washing-powder-2kg/.
If you are not so keen on washing powder, you could opt for laundry pods. You might picture big expensive plastic boxes only carrying a few doses when thinking about laundry pods, but there are better options out there ! Let us introduce you to Smol! Smol is a company that offers bio and non-bio laundry capsule via mail. Their service is very simple, you tell them how many washes you do per week, and they will send you the right amount of pods via mail every month. Their service is subscription based, so you do not have to worry about it every month. But the best thing about this service is that the capsules are cruelty-free, vegan and come in plastic free packaging. If you are interested, you can find Smol at: https://smolproducts.com/pages/laundry. They carry other products such as dishwasher tablets and surface spray tablets, so do not hesitate to check them out.
Alternatively, you could switch to laundry strips. They are incredibly straight forward; 1 strip = 1 wash. All the goodness of a laundry detergent without all the unnecessary water and bottles.
If you are interested, check out TruEarth’s eco-strips. Their strips are ultra-concentrated, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly, vegan, paraben-free, 1,4-dioxane free, phosphate-free, biodegradable, they come in compostable packaging and are suitable for all washing machines. If you are interested, you can find TruEarth’s eco-strips here.
If none of the above interests you, let me introduce you to one last alternative. Soap nuts. You must be thinking, “Nuts with soap ? What?!”. It does sound strange but do not rule them out just yet. Soap nuts have been used for thousands of years as a natural laundry detergent by people native to both Asia and the Americas. Also known as Soap Berries, soap nuts grow on trees of the sapindus genus and are a source of Saponin, a natural surfactant which cleans and freshens your clothes. Soap nuts are gentle on your clothes and help colours stay brighter for longer while effectively removing dirt. Sounds good, doesn’t it ? They are also really easy to use. You simply need to:
1. Put the required amount of soap nuts into the small bag (usually provided with nuts) and tie tightly. 2. Place laundry in the machine with the soap nuts on top and run your normal program
3. At the end of the wash, remove the bag of soap nuts and allow to dry. These can be re-used.
You usually need about 3 to 5 nuts for lightly soiled clothes, and 4 to 6 nuts for heavily soiled. They are vegan, cruelty-free, allergy friendly, suitable for septic tanks. Simple, natural and easy ! If you are interested, you can find soap nuts at here.
Hopefully, one of these alternatives will have persuaded you to switch.
Warning: It is not recommended to use DIY detergents as they can ruin your washing machine and contaminate the water supply (if the recipe contains essential oils). You might save a few pennies in the short term, but DIY laundry detergents will build up both in your clothes and machine and will ruin them at a much faster rate.
Washing your clothes with cold water is one of the easiest ways to reduce the impact of your laundry on the planet. It is estimated that 75 to 90% of the energy used by a washing machine is to warm up the water. But using cold water also protects your clothes by reducing the risk of wrinkles, shrinking and fading. As a result of this, you also need to use less time to iron your clothes, which means saving even more energy!
It might sound obvious but wash your clothes when they are actually dirty. It is better for the environment and for your clothes to be washed after 2 to 3 wears rather than after just one use (this excludes underwear and socks of course). Bedsheets should be washed at least once a week, bath towels also need to be washed once a week, hand towels should be changed every 2 to 3 days and tea towels/face towel should be changed every day.
When it comes to drying, the most eco-friendly option, drying on a drying line or drying rack. If you do not have one, it is really easy to find some second hand. Letting your clothes dry naturally could save you a lot on your electricity bill and prolong the life of your clothes, as dryers are really energy intensive. This does not mean that should never use your dryer again but try to use it only when most needed. Hang your clothes to dry as often as you can, and do not forget to empty your lint filter to keep your dryer in good shape for as long as possible.
With all these tips, you will hopefully have a good idea of how you can make your laundry a bit more eco-friendly!