strucket mini grey straining water

Simple tips for your eco friendly

Laundry

If you ask me, something that belongs up there in the top three of life’s certainties is that you will never, ever finish doing the laundry! It’s a mundane, repetitive task most often done on autopilot, and it’s likely many of us don’t know just how drastically our habits in the laundry impact the size of our environmental footprint.

In fact, throwing on a load of washing can be an entirely non-sustainable activity. The good news? There are many easy ways we can all make our washing routines significantly more eco friendly. Here’s our top five.

1. Use a microfibre filter

Every time we throw our (synthetic) clothes into the machine, they shed tiny fragments called microfibres that travel down our washing machine’s drainage hose and out into our waterways. The science tell us that these microscopic pieces of plastic yarn are one of the biggest sources of plastic pollution in our oceans.

Every single one of us can make an immediate difference by using a simple filter bag that can be thrown in with your laundry (check out Guppyfriend) to help reduce the amount of shedding and catch microplastic debris. Even better, install a reusable filter that easily attaches to your washing machine’s drainage hose (PlanetCare and Lint LUV-R are top performers).

b clean co soft eco detergent

2. Choose a natural laundry detergent 

Our eco-friendly-selves probably know this as a given. Since our choice of detergent has a huge impact on ocean health, marine life and our own toxic load, we think it’s worth a deeper look. ​

Phosphates found in conventional detergents are particularly problematic and often deadly to aquatic ecosystems. High phosphate detergents are known to create algal blooms which deplete oxygen levels in the water making it impossible for sea life to survive. ​

Toxic residues are also able to rub off onto your skin via the chemical compounds that linger on your clothing. Skin irritations such as eczema, dermatitis and itching; as well as headaches and dizziness are some of the much talked about side effects.

Look for natural laundry detergents that are readily biodegradable, phosphate-free, and made from plant-based ingredients (instead of petroleum). Eco-friendly packaging is another bonus. Although plastic bottles can be recyclable, many of them end up going to landfill where they sit for hundreds of years.

 

4. Wash full loads

This is a simple one. An enormous amount of water, energy and carbon dioxide emissions will be saved each year if every household only runs full loads of laundry. Full loads also create less friction resulting in decreased microfibre shedding.  Need we say more?

4. Line-dry as much as possible 

It won’t surprise you to hear that dryers are energy-suckers, emitting hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide worldwide every year. Every time you skip the dryer, you make a difference not only to the Earth’s atmosphere but also to the life of your clothes. They’ll last longer and shed fewer microfibres when dried on the good ol’ Hills Hoist!

If you do need to use a dryer some of the time, products like wool dryer balls and eco dryer eggs will shorten drying time as will regularly cleaning the lint filter and moisture sensor (if your dryer has one). Another simple hack is to avoid putting heavyweight and lightweight items in the same load.

5. Wash shorter, wash cooler where possible 

The longer and hotter you wash, the more fibres break down and the more energy and water that is used. Around 90 percent of the total energy used by a typical washing machine goes into heating the water, with only a small portion needed to run the motor.

Clothes with light soiling should clean perfectly well in cold water (30 degrees or less) without the need for a prewash cycle. Soaking very dirty items before you wash in something like the Strucket will save energy and water and do the same job as the longer, prewash setting. Sure, some items may need longer, hotter washes—modern cloth nappies and athletic wear for example— but it’s important to remember any change in temperature does make a difference to carbon emissions. Just lowering the temperature by 10 degrees and rinsing cold will reduce energy use by around 40 per cent.

A hot wash on towels may be worthwhile for an occasional deep clean, but do you need to wash them hot all the time? Could your bedding wash just as well at 40 degrees as it does at 60 degrees? It’s all about conscious thought rather than robotic repetition when it comes to lessening the environmental demands of putting on yet another load of laundry!

Written by Jemma Guthrie