Depending on how you do your laundry, a single load can result in anywhere from .6 to 3.3 kg of carbon. If you take into consideration that the average American family does about 300 loads of laundry per year, that’s anywhere from 180 to 990 kg of CO2 emissions per family per year – just for laundry! And that isn’t even the full scope of how laundry impacts the environment.
According to the U.S. EPA, 41 gallons of water are used per load of laundry, and nearly one billion plastic bottles of detergent, stain remover, and fabric softener end up in landfills every year. Not to mention, most conventional laundry products are chocked full of toxic chemicals.
If you’re trying to shrink your ecological footprint, consider some of these simple ways to minimize the impact of your laundry.
- Use an energy efficient washing machine – A high efficiency washer may use less than half the amount of water of a conventional top loader. While a top loader can use as much as 54 gallons of water, the most efficient machines use only seven. Multiply that savings by the hundreds of loads you do each year, and you’re saving thousands of gallons of water.
- Wash less often – Run only full loads and save still more energy and water. The larger capacity of high efficiency washers also lets you wash fewer loads overall.
- Use cold water – Cut the energy used to clean your clothes by choosing cold water settings as often as possible. Up to 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes goes to heating water! If every load laundered in the US used cold water instead of hot, the country would slash millions of tons of carbon emissions each year.
- Air-Dry Your Clothes – Hot summer days are the perfect time to air-dry clothes and linens instead of running your dryer. Retractable clothes lines are surprisingly budget-friendly, and you can set them up between trees, on your deck, or even on a small balcony. This method is much more sustainable, and also leaves your clothes smelling incredibly fresh. Plus, the sun can help bleach out stubborn stains. Not enough outdoor space? A drying rack can be used to dry clothing indoors—and it’s a must-have for delicate garments.
- … Or Invest In Dryer Balls – When you do need to use your dryer, you can cut down its runtime with the help of reusable dryer balls. These unassuming little wool balls help to absorb moisture from your clothes, which means you can put the dryer on a lower heat setting, and they can significantly cut down on overall drying time—not too shabby, right? As an added bonus, they also help soften clothes and reduce wrinkles. Win-win.
These ideas don’t take much extra time or effort, but they can help you create an eco-friendly laundry routine that works for you. The next time laundry day rolls around, try one (or two!) of these tips. You can climb every (laundry) mountain and take care of the planet too.