Weekly Challenge

Week 9: Get a Load of This

This week, we are continuing to shine the spotlight on a few household swaps that lower our eco-footprint in a big way. We’re taking a closer look at a common chore that the planet likely dreads as much as we do… laundry.

We’re in Hot Water

Procter & Gamble estimates that 1100 loads of laundry are started per second, and that each person in the United States generates a quarter ton of dirty laundry per year. Annually, that equates to 35 billion loads of laundry in North America alone.

gallons of water

The average household uses over 13,000 gallons of water a year doing laundry. The average top load washer uses 30-35 gallons of water per load. Front-load washers can reduce that number by 33%.
Energy Star

of annual energy

Washing machines and tumble drying account for nearly 10% of the average household’s total energy usage.
Consumer Reports

1 billion
laundry jugs

1 billion plastic laundry jugs are discarded in the US annually. Only about 30% of these single-use plastic jugs are recycled. The remaining 700 million end up in our landfills, or even worse, float in our oceans and waterways.
Environmental Protection Agency

You probably already thought about the plastic jug problem mentioned above that is a byproduct of conventional liquid laundry detergent, but did you know that conventional laundry powder packaging comes with its own problems. Many are packaged in boxes lined with plastic, accompanied by a plastic handle, a plastic strip embedded in the cardboard to facilitate opening, and a plastic scoop. As a result, these mixed-material boxes are nearly impossible to responsibly recycle.

While the packaging of laundry detergent creates a landfill burden, the actual ingredients of the detergent create their own environmental issues. Textiles made from synthetic fibers and chemical dyes shed micropollutants during each wash and dry cycle that make their way into the environment. In addition, conventional scented laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and stain removers contain hazardous chemicals and release volatile organic compounds classified as carcinogens by the EPA. It doesn’t seem like conventional laundry detergent is actually “cleaning” much, does it?

Laundry detergents and laundry stain removers frequently contain alkylphenol ethoxylates, or APEs, which are common surfactants. APEs can damage the immune system, and they’re suspected hormone disruptors, which means they can mimic hormones in the body that regulate reproduction and development. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also warned that ethoxylated alcohol surfactants, such as APEs, may be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane, which penetrates skin.


A Laundry List of Solutions

We have some great news! There are number a of simple shifts that you can implement into a green routine that keeps your clothes clean:

How will you choose to start shifting to a more sustainable laundry routine? As always, we invite you to #shareyourshift with neighbors and friends to keep the wave of low-impact living rolling forward. And don’t forget… Every. Shift. Counts.