Oftentimes people will come into our shops and ask our advice on how to start living more sustainably. Our answer is always to start small and do what you can with the resources you have available to you. We know that advice is a little abstract, but what we really mean is to take one part of your daily routine and examine it to find small ways to reduce the waste you are producing. Laundry day is a great place to start.
We’re about to go full science on y’all so bear with us! According to a study by the Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences, the U.S. is the second leading emitter of carbon dioxide, responsible for 22 percent of global emissions. The U.S. residential sector (i.e. not factories or businesses) is responsible for about 21 percent of all U.S. carbon emissions, and laundry cycles accounted for 8.29 percent of all residential emissions. Whew! We know that’s a lot to take in.
Honestly, the most sustainable way to do laundry is to do it less often and to air dry clothes, but we know this isn’t feasible advice for everyone. So, try to wash your clothes in cold water and hang them to dry the old fashion way. Heating the water accounts for 90 percent of the energy used by a washing machine, so using cold water drastically reduces the impact per load. Also, cold water won’t break down your clothes as quickly, reducing the amount of microplastics your clothes shed into the water system. Skipping the dryer completely and you’ll use less electricity, which is also great on your wallet - that’s a win-win.
When doing laundry, pack your machine full. This is an easy one for us because we avoid doing laundry until we’ve run out of clean underwear, but nonetheless washing machines use the same amount of energy every load, so run full loads whenever possible.
Pay attention to the type of laundry detergents you’re using to wash your clothes and spring for the natural options. Many products contain sodium laurel sulphate and optical brighteners, both skin irritants, as well as artificial fragrances, usually derived from petrochemicals – all of which act as toxins once flushed into our waterways.
At Koko, we offer great low-waste, natural laundry detergents, soap, and stain sticks, both on our refillery and as hard goods. We especially love our laundry detergent sheets because you can skip the plastic jug that most conventional detergents are packaged in and that’s basically filled with 90% water anyway. Laundry detergent sheets are highly concentrated, therefore leaving a much smaller carbon footprint behind! Our 5-Ingredient Laundry Soap Bag by Humble Suds is another great option. It’s formulated for sensitive skin, made with safe, non-toxic, powerful earth-derived ingredients. The bag is also reusable or recyclable. For unexpected coffee spills, we spot treat with our Laundry Stain Remover Stick.
Finally, skip the single-use dryer sheets, and opt for dryer balls instead. They shorten drying time by 10-25% and eliminate static. Today, Wednesday, December 8, buy a set of dryer balls and get a bag of Illuminate Mineral + Oxygen Powder for FREE. We love Humble Suds NEW multipurpose powerful cleaning powder made from oxygen and minerals to brighten, whiten and deodorize with a multitude of uses. Read all about this amazing product’s uses here.