Whether you take a look at the carbon footprint of laundry machines and dryers or the detergent effect, laundry has a bad impact on our environment. The average American family, according to Procter & Gamble Co., does roughly 300 loads of laundry per year making the per-family carbon footprint from doing laundry of about 480 pounds per year. And that estimate is just for the washing – it doesn’t include running the dryer. Consider the follow statistics shared by The Guardian regarding the carbon footprint of a load of laundry:
- 0.6 kg CO2e washed at 30°C, dried on the line
- 0.7 kg CO2e washed at 40°C, dried on the line
- 2.4 kg CO2e washed at 40°C, tumble-dried in a vented dryer
- 3.3 kg CO2e washed at 60°C, dried in a combined washer-dryer
In addition to the carbon footprint of the actual machines, laundry detergent has a footprint of its own. According to Tesco, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, solid detergent capsules have the highest carbon footprint, followed by powder. Liquid detergent has a significantly lower carbon footprint but the lowest footprint comes from concentrated liquid. What’s the reason behind the footprint discrepancy? Making solid detergent requires more energy to make than making liquid detergent.
The dangers of detergent don’t end there. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are concerns with the chemical ingredients used in laundry detergents, including: toxicity to aquatic organisms and algae, persistence in the environment, Eutrophication of fresh water and lastly, health problems in people (such as cancer).
Despite all the environmental and health impacts, we cannot just stop doing laundry. But we can take steps and measures to make the process of doing our laundry more eco-friendly. Here are 6 tips you can implement in your daily life to make your laundry greener:
1. Efficient Laundry Frequency
Make each load of laundry efficient by only running your washer when you have a full load so that you’re not washing small loads of laundry frequently. If you do have to wash a small load, then alter the water setting to make sure you’re not wasting too much water.
2. Concentrated Liquid Detergent
Opt for a concentrated liquid detergent which requires less soap per load and has a lower carbon footprint than solid detergent.
3. Cooler Temperature
Washing your clothes in cooler water requires less energy. A simple measure of washing your clothes in 86 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 104 degrees would reduce the carbon footprint of each load by 0.3 pounds. This measure will also save you money since up to 90 percent of the cost of a load of laundry is spent on heating water.
4. Air Dry
According to Tesco, drying your laundry outside will cut the carbon footprint of each load by 4.4 pounds. An added benefit is that you would elongate the lifespan of your clothing since high-temperature dryers shrink clothes and deteriorate the fibers of your clothing. But before you create your own makeshift clothesline, make sure you’re allowed to have one.
5. Efficient Drying
If you do have to use a dryer, then remember to clean the lint filter between loads to maximize efficiency and air circulation. If you have several batches of laundry to do, then doing them all at once can increase dryer efficiency: By doing back-to-back batches of washing and drying, your drying doesn’t have to cool and heat up from scratch between each use.
6. Upgrade Your Electronics
If you have the funds and means, then look for a new ENERGY STAR qualified model of a washer and dryer.