9 ways to reduce the impact of laundry on the climate & plastic crises

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To reduce the impact of laundry on our planet we joined forces with LessPlastic & Gallifrey Foundation. Join us and support spreading awareness by to sharing this page in your networks.

What can you do ?

1. Wash less and less often

2. Where possible sponge clean or air your clothes instead of washing

3. Wash at 30 C 86 F

4. Max 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent (avoid powdered detergent)

5. Prefer front load machine over top load washing machine

6. Avoid PVA pods

7. Use a filter or a Guppyfriend bag in your washing machine

8. Avoid using your laundry dryer, air dry wash

9. For sports wear (polyesters) hand soak with as little agitation as possible – air dry

Poster coming soon

Laundry costs water and electricity: on average 5 percent of the total electricity used by a household. The major share of the electricity consumption by washing machines is required for heating water from tap temperature up to 30, 40, 60 or even 90°C. For a typical 40°C wash nearly 75% of the carbon footprint is due to drying. The more heat used, the more energy needed, and dryers use electricity to generate this heat. Microplastic fibers are released from synthetic clothing during manufacturing, wearing, washing and drying. Clothes always wear out a little during washing. The fibers that come off are washed away with the washing water. This is not a problem with natural materials such as wool and cotton, but synthetic fibers such as polyester, acrylic and especially fleece contribute to plastic pollution. A washing machine uses about 60 liters of water per wash.

More tips

Are you going to buy a washing machine? 1. Buy one which has a build-in microfiber filter 2. Pay attention to the energy label and the power consumption;

Are you using a machine without microfiber filter: buy an external microfiber filter – see PlanetCare and Gulp

Use the machine economically: spin the laundry with a full drum and use the eco program. This allows you to save a lot of energy: good for your wallet and the environment;

Best hang your laundry to dry;

Avoid ironing whenever you can.

People who live in areas with highly mineralised water can prolong the lifetime of their washing machine by adding baking soda to the detergent;

Less washing is best. Do not wash clothes more often than necessary. If you wash clothes less often, they also wear out less quickly;

Do not flush the fluff from the dryer down the toilet, but throw it in the waste bin.

Review your dry-cleaning company and check out this IN THE BAG guide by Beyond Plastics

One of the best alternatives to commercial laundry detergents is probably in your pantry right now: vinegar.

Natural detergent using soap nuts the fruits of a small tree called Sapindus Mukorossi tree, native of the Himalayas and the mountainous region between India and Nepal, available online

Publications

Great campaigning by Hang Dry for Climate Change

Guppyfriend bags: According to independent tests done by the German Textile Research Centre North-West, Fraunhofer Institute, and University of California at Santa Barbara, the Guppyfriend bag retains 90% of microfibers that break off in the wash. It actually even reduces the amount of fiber breakage by 79-86% in the first place. A review

Investigating Options for Reducing Releases in the Aquatic Environment of Microplastics Emitted by Products by EUNOMIA – The results of this study also show large differences between the use of liquid and powder detergent

Microfiber release from clothes after washing: Hard facts, figures and promising solutions

PVA is a synthetic plastic polymer found wrapping many of our everyday products. PVA is often found in household items like dishwasher and laundry pacs as a thin single-use plastic wrapping. Publication: What Is PVA And What Is Its Impact On The Environment?

Study The impact of fabric conditioning products and lint filter pore size on airborne microfiber pollution arising from tumble drying.

Microfibers shedding from laundry explained by the Story of Stuff

USA – mind you, in some communities, homeowner associations prohibit hanging one’s laundry to dry for aesthetic reasons.

The states with the most clothesline bans include: 

  • Hawaii 
  • Nevada 
  • Arizona 
  • Florida

Altogether, about 20 states have some restrictions on clotheslines. But the states mentioned above have some of the most bans for multiple reasons. 

This means anywhere, even in the backyard. Many of these articles point out that there are actually state-level laws that prohibit these homeowner associations from making such rules, but the laws are so obscure that people don’t realize it. Recommended read: Are Clotheslines Illegal? Some older publications related to this issue (status might have changed) : CLOTHESLINE BANS VOID IN 19 STATES – Surprise! For millions, state laws hang community rules out to dry. and 19 ‘right to dry’ states outlaw clothesline bans; is yours among them?