Zero waste living really inspires me. I wish I could get to a place in life where I make my own detergent from scratch and store it in a mason jar. Then I’d air dry all my clothes instead of using a dryer. Unfortunately, I’m not quite there yet!
As this is my greener project and not quite a zero waste project, I am starting with small, manageable steps. To make my laundry process a little greener, I switched traded Tide Pods for a greener detergent and ditched dryer sheets in favor of wool balls. I also air-dry whenever possible. (Though it can be difficult with just one drying rack in a small apartment!)
Good Bye, Tide Pods
When I first got to college, I swore by Tide Pods. They were inexpensive and so convenient to use. Unfortunately, they don’t actually do a great job cleaning your clothes – you can’t control how much detergent you use and sometimes the pod doesn’t dissolve correctly, leaving behind a sticky mess.
Beyond that, Tide Pods received an F from the Environmental Working Group! They are known to contain several ingredients which lead to chronic aquatic toxicity. In addition, they contain several non-specified ingredients, so we can’t even quantify their full impact.
Also, Tide Pods contain a much higher concentration of detergent than the detergent that comes in a bottle. All of these small elements add up to danger for marine ecosystems.
Trying Tide PurClean
Step 1 in doing greener laundry? Using up the last of the Tide Pods so I could try out a greener detergent. My roommate picked up Tide PurClean because it was the most eco-friendly detergent Target offered.
As it turns out, I’m quite impressed by how sustainable it is! Here are my main takeaways:
- All components of Tide PurClean are derived from plants.
- The production of this detergent is entirely powered by renewable energy (wind power)
- The factory which produces Tide PurClean produces zero waste which travels to landfills (This is so impressive… I have to do more research on this!)
- The detergent contains no dyes, chlorine, phosphates or brighteners
In short, as far as detergent goes, I doubt I can do much better from a local shop! My main question: why doesn’t Tide produce all of its detergents in this way? Hopefully one day they will.
As a side note, I’ve also enjoyed the switch to liquid detergent because I can control how much I detergent I actually add to my laundry. This bottle has lasted such a long time – I’m not longer constantly buying detergent like I was when I used Tide Pods.
Ditching Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets always seemed harmless to me. I thought they consisted of a natural fiber with some sort of added fragrance. As it turns out, dryer sheets usually consist of a polyester base covered in fabric softener chemicals and fragrance chemicals.
My main problem with dryer sheets? You can only use them one or two times! Vast numbers of them end up in the trash. Consequently, all those chemicals used to coat them end up in landfills and the environment.
Also, some sources claim that the way dryer sheets break down actually damages your dryer. It’s possible that your dryer becomes less efficient when you use them which actually requires more energy.
Sigh. Sometimes it feels like I have to reevaluate every single household item I use.
The Magic of Wool Balls
Fortunately, a great alternative to dryer sheets exists at a low price: wool balls. They consist of natural wool fibers, contain no chemicals, and last for thousands of loads. They get rid of static cling and work just as effectively as dryer sheets, I’ve found.
I purchased Wool Dryer Balls from Amazon. I couldn’t recommend them more highly! They’ve also ended up saving me money because I haven’t had to buy dryer sheets in months. The pack I got only cost $8, and I’ll get thousands of uses out of them.
We also don’t need specific products to make our laundry practices greener. By air drying clothes instead of throwing them in the dryer, you save lots of energy.
Also, I think most of us tend to over-wash our clothes. Realistically, if you weren’t rolling around in the mud or performing laborious tasks, you can probably wear your clothes a few times between washes! Even when you do wash them, you probably don’t need as much detergent as you might think.
We all do so many loads of laundry in our lifetime that every greener choice makes a difference.