Environmental consequences, risks, and issues of doing laundry.
Doing your laundry can have a negative impact on the planet, here are some of the things that can cause a problem.
You might think putting on a load of washing has little impact, but you would be wrong. The chances are that how you do things is contributing to a big problem globally. Let us explain the environmental impact of doing your laundry.
Commercial detergents are full of nasty chemicals and synthetic ingredients that are not great for the environment. These heavy metals, foaming agents, cleaners, and toxic chemicals end up going down the drain and subsequently entering the waterways. Most of these ingredients pose significant threats to wildlife, sealife, and flora, as well as us humans.
Some 60% of plastic particles found in waterways can be attributed to laundry. The particles of plastic that break off synthetic clothing when it is washed, then breaks down into even smaller pieces that flow in the water and can even waft in the air. These microplastics are bad for fish, wildlife, and humans and we need to do more to stop how much we are pumping into the environment. Using a laundry bag to put your synthetic items in while you wash them is one of the most effective steps you can take.
Doing laundry takes up a lot of energy- as much as 130,000 watts of energy each year for the average family of four. Not only does this cost a lot but if your energy isn’t coming from a renewable or clean source like solar or hydro, then this is having a negative impact on the planet. You can take steps such as wearing clothes more than once (it’s fine honestly), ensuring you do a full load, turning the temperature to below 40 degrees, and letting things air dry once you are done. Aso make sure you have an energy-efficient washing machine, and if you don’t, get one.
The average washing machine uses at least 51,000 litres of water every single year. To give that some context- that is as much water as you will drink in an entire lifetime. This water takes energy to clean, process, pump, and to be fed into your washing machine. It then takes more energy to be used, before it ends up going down the drain. Water costs money and providing and preparing it to be used costs money also, as well as taking a significant toll on the environment.
Many of the laundry soaps and conditioners we use come in plastic packets. Some even come in plastic sachets, within plastic packets which makes the situation even worse. Using products that are reusable, refillable, or come in recyclable and environmentally friendly packaging is a great solution to this problem.