Laundry is one of the most annoying and time-consuming chores, especially for a college student. As a college student I know how hard it can be to make time to do laundry. It is a never-ending battle that is very expensive, time-consuming and not environmentally friendly. Luckily, there are some great easy changes that you can make to save money, time, and the environment!
Laundry detergent is probably the most important component of laundry day. However, it costs about $10 a carton and contains harmful chemicals that contaminate water supplies and are toxic to aquatic life and human skin. Most detergents damage the mucus layer on fish that protects them from parasites. Toxins in detergents are also known for causing skin and throat irritation, but in more extreme cases they have also been linked to cancer.
In addition to harmful toxins in detergents, they also often come in a plastic container. When you finish that harmful detergent the container goes to the landfill and takes hundreds of years to break down. But don’t worry! There are many alternatives to the toxic detergents found in grocery stores. Here are some solutions:
dropps: A company that makes all-natural, plant-based detergent pods free of toxins, dyes, and fragrances. These pods come in compostable packaging which replaces plastic waste. You can even buy these online and sign up for a monthly subscription that will ship them straight to your home!
DIY Detergent: Another alternative is to make your own laundry detergent. Making your own is cheap, easy, and environmentally friendly. Homemade detergents use simple ingredients that limit the use of toxins and plastics.
Links to the dropps website and a homemade detergent recipe are listed below:
Many people also use dryer sheets as a laundry day staple. These sheets are single use products that are usually made from a polyester fabric that is drenched in fragrance and fabric softening chemicals. These include chemicals that are harmful to humans and wildlife. Dryer sheets are also single use products that end up in landfills. You also may notice the fabric softening residue that is left on your clothes after washing them. This residue reduces the productivity of your dryer, causing your clothes’ drying time and your utility bill to increase. Dryer sheets put harmful chemicals in the air, contribute to landfills, and increase your utility bill. If that isn’t bad enough, dryer sheets are also expensive and have to be bought every couple of months.
There are many alternatives to dryer sheets that are natural and reusable, and actually limit dry time. Here are a couple ideas:
Wool Dryer Balls: I have used this alternative. These dryer balls are reusable and inexpensive. They also limit dry time, reduce wrinkles, and are eco-friendly.
DIY Reusable Dryer Sheets: You can simply dampen a cloth in apple cider vinegar and throw it in with your clothes. The vinegar is inexpensive and prevents static.
These alternatives are great for limiting waste and saving money. Here is the link for the wool dryer balls I used:
The other harmful component of laundry is water waste. Most washers use anything between 15-45 gallons of water for each wash. This really adds up over time, especially for areas with limited water availability.
In the Palouse, both Pullman and Moscow use water from the Grande Ronde aquifer. This aquifer is running out of water because there is no way for this groundwater supply to recharge. Considering these cities are big college towns, that means there are a lot of residents in a small area and there is a lot of laundry to do.
It is important to consider how often you wash your clothes and what kind of washer you use. Limiting yourself to washing your clothes once a week or once every two weeks can make a huge difference. If you have access to multiple kinds of washers, it is also important to consider which one you use. The most efficient washers can use as little as 5 gallons of water per wash. If you have different washer options, using the more efficient one can save your surrounding environment and your water bill.
Using alternative laundry products and being cautious of how often you wash your clothes are important in making laundry day more sustainable. These easy switches will have a huge impact on the environment and your wallet.
Making these changes may seem like a lot. However, it will have a greater impact on the environment and your financial future if you are willing to change now!
Any and all brands and specific products named in the above article are discussed purely for environmentally friendly product ideas. They do not reflect opinions, preferences, or endorsements of WSU’s Environmental Science Club and do not have any affiliation with WSU’s Environmental Science Club, or any entity related to Washington State University.
~Written by Emily Hogan~