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Doing the laundry is something, one way or another, we all have to do, and it also consumes a lot of energy and resources and, at the same time, uses harsh chemicals. But, there are several tricks to make the laundry a greener endeavor.
There are several things we need to be aware of when we do our laundry. For example, different washing machines use different amounts of water to get the job done. Washing in hot water demands far more energy than cold water because the washer has to heat the water. dryers require more energy than washing machines.
In other words, with a bit of knowledge and the will to make our laundry as environmentally friendly as possible, we can easily start to shrink our clothes-washing footprint.
Wear It Again
Source: Gittemary Johansen/Youtube
Because we’ve become so accustomed to the ease with which we can wash clothes, we have also become rather blasé about the frequency with which we wash them. But, every time we wash something we consume energy, decrease the lifespan of our clothing, and use gallons of fresh water. If something can inoffensively be worn again, then wear it again. We don’t have to wash every item of clothing every time we wear it.
Buy Natural Clothing
Source: Fairyland Cottage/Youtube
With every trip to the washing machine, our clothing releases tons of microfibers that travel through the pipes and into our waterways, ultimately polluting lakes and oceans. With natural clothing, these fibers—cotton, linen, hemp, etc.—decompose and cause no problem. Synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester remain in the water.
Wash Full Loads
Washing one full load as opposed to multiple small loads saves both energy—the machine has to power through cycles only once—and water. Most of us can get away with doing the laundry once a week, particularly if we start wearing clean clothes more than once. In terms of making a smaller footprint, the wait is worth it.
Use Cold Water
Source: Consumer Reports/Youtube
Heating up water is one of the largest draws of energy in a home. In homes with electric water heaters, those appliances consume over 10% of the house’s total energy. When we wash using hot water, we are creating the same situation. Hot water cycles are really only suitable for heavily soiled, light-colored clothing and linens. It is also useful in cleaning out stains caused by oils and fats.
Make Laundry Detergent
Source: Fairyland Cottage/Youtube
Eco, plant-based laundry detergents are now available at even run-of-the-mill supermarkets, and they are the better option when buying a detergent product. However, making an all-natural laundry detergent at home is totally doable, less expensive, and extremely versatile. There are easy recipes for homemade powder and liquid detergents, so this should be a fairly painless switch.
Hang It Out to Dry
Clothes dryers use more energy per load than washing machines do. Plus, they add heat to both the inside and outside temperature, which might mean working against the air conditioning unit. Hanging clothes up to dry is major energy saver, and many people rave over the smell of air-dried laundry. In fact, many chemically-enhanced dryer sheets claim to provide a natural aroma. Putting up a clothing line is an option in the suburbs or country, but clothes drying racks can work for smaller spaces.
Avoid Dry Cleaners
Not only does dry cleaning use a lot of energy and create a lot of heat, but also the chemicals—and there are a lot—typically used by dry cleaners are carcinogenic and/or toxic. Most of the time we don’t actually need to dry clean our clothing, so it’s best to be absolutely sure when we do use the dry cleaners. Then, we also need to look for companies doing it with greener methodologies, which do exist.
In short, we all now know different ways for going a little greener with our laundry, even before we spend lots of money on a new Energy Star washing machine. It’s just a matter of taking the task on and making what difference we can from home.
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