Following on from my last post I thought it would interesting to look at our laundry and how washing and drying our clothes impacts on the environment. Ok, so in a garment's lifecycle 75-80% of its environmental impact comes after its bought from washing and drying. That is massive in comparison to the energy it takes to manufacture the garments themselves. That's why it's so important that we all learn to be greener with our laundry. Not only will we help to save energy but also our own time and money too!
Reports by Proctor and M&S show that 90% of the energy used comes from heating the water alone. 13,500 gallons of water are consumed by the average household for about 400 loads of laundry. That's sounds staggering but to put it into some sort of visual perspective imagine it like this; a washing machine lasts about 11 years and the water used in that time would provide drinking water for 6 people for a lifetime or fill 3 swimming pools!
Here are some helpful tips:
1) Using a washing machine with a high energy rating means it will be more efficient.
2) We all know that running a tumble dryer is expensive and energy munching but did you know that a if you use a dryer 200 times a year you will use half a tonne of CO2? Hanging them out to dry will mean the clothes last longer as there is less wear and tear and you get the exercise too!
3) This is a no brainer, but wear your clothes more than once! Garments such as jeans and knitwear will benefit from being washed far less as they fade and bobble with over washing. You consume up to five times less energy by wearing your jeans at least three times. And, of course, always run a full load to maximise the energy usage.
4) Use ecologically sound detergents. Not only are there hidden nasties in our clothes from manufacture but then we put more on them when we wash them. These chemicals can easily effect young skins and then go into the water systems damaging wildlife. Bio-degradable products that are phosphate free are the way to go. Concentrated detergents have a much smaller carbon footprint too due to less packaging & shipping. You could even replace your fabric softener with a cup of white vinegar to save money and the planet. Our grandparents used many non-toxic stain removing and bleaching tricks with common kitchen cupboard items and to great effect. These can be easily found on the net if you are interested.
5) We are all being told to wash at a lower temperature these days and it really does make a big difference. Washing at 30 degrees uses 40% less electricity. It will reduce colour loss and fabric damage too. However I must add that towels, bedding and underwear should be washed at a higher temperature to remove bacteria.
While I am a big advocate of washing less already even I will adopt more of these tips. I hope they can help you too :-)
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