Today’s post is all about the laundry. I have deliberated about writing this up as it is something very ‘everyday’ and not perhaps most exciting of topics, although following on from my other popular posts on similar things like the Eco Unsponges and Toilet Paper I have come to realise that eco is sometimes just about being practical. Simple solutions to everyday things. Making little changes to our everyday can add up to protect our environment and means our children and future generations can also enjoy the wonders and resources of this precious planet.
In the UK, the average family puts though 5 loads of washing a week. In our family it goes on every evening and sometime more otherwise we soon have a washing mountain that seems beyond conquering. It is also one of the most expensive appliances to run too, using on average 1 unit of energy for an average 1 hour cycle and equivalent to running a fridge and freezer for the whole day at an average cost of 16p. They also use a huge about of water, as we have found out recently with getting a necklace chain stuck in the filter. Some machines use 20 gallons per wash which is the same as running a medium size bath tub each time. Machines do vary with some energy rated machines using a lot less, so it is worth look at this when buying a new machine.
There are some simple ways you can reduce the amount of energy and water used by things like, doing full loads rather than half loads or using the correct half load settings if your machine has this. Shorter cycles where possible will use less water, avoiding the extra rinse at the end which is theory isn’t needed if the correct detergent is used in the first place. In recent years, there has been a huge drive for the campaign of if it’s not dirty ‘wash at 30’ campaign and better energy rating machines. Washing at this lower temperature using 40 percent less electricity over the course of a year. While this is good practice it won’t kill germs on the clothes at this temperature, in fact towels are recommended to wash at 60 for this reason which is also important to at the moment with COVID virus particles around too at the moment.
Over the years, I have tried using different laundry products and ways of buying it. With sensitive skin, I have always had to be careful to avoid highly perfumed products and generally go for non- biological. The key difference is the use of enzymes in biological powders to break down the fatty particles on clothes. Non-biological powder can be used at lower temperatures and therefore used less energy in the washing process and is seen as kinder to the skin. Some research also suggests that the water waste that used biological powders takes longer for the chemical particles to degrade and end up on in rivers and oceans and therefore using plant based alternatives is much kinder to the planet. If the non- chemical approach does the job just as well then there is no question over a swap?
I have recently come across the EcoEgg that uses minerals only. I have to say I was skeptical at first with the promise of 70 washes without any harsh chemicals. The black and white pellets inside are agitated by the movement of the drum and they contain a small amount of surfactant that washes the clothes. It is also suitable for hand washing with a subtle fragrance. I do like that this product takes a completely different approach to the traditional powders and liquids and does save on all the packaging of buying products every time. It is also cost effective at around 14p per wash. However, my verdict that this is only good if the product actually works. In my view the Eco Egg is ‘ok’ but not good enough for me to make a swap. It cleaned cottons fine but the unavoidable synthetic fabrics like all the kids school PE kits, not so well, not quite getting out the grass stains and general odors still lingering. It also says that the egg has to dry out completely each time which in our house it doesn’t get a chance before it is needed again.
About a year ago we swapped our regular supermarket brand for Smol. I was on an a drive to reduce our supermarket spend and use alternatives like a local farm fresh produce box, a milk man and Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. I have been very pleased with Smol products, they have a similar mission statement to my blog to make a big difference with small changes and this resonated with me. Their laundry capsules have been scientifically developed to reduce environmental impact whist maintaining effectiveness at cleaning clothes. The cost is £4.50 for 24 capsules which works out at around 30p a wash based on using 2 capsules and full loads which is equivalent or even slightly less than other supermarket powders. Setting up a direct debit scheme with them is easy and means and I don’t have to remember to buy it each time when doing the weekly shop. The packaging is made from Forest Stewardship Council® approved, sustainable materials and is 100% recyclable too. Using Smol is an eco compromise for reducing plastic packaging, supporting a small business and reducing environmental impact. They also do other products too like dishwasher tablets that can be added to the online delivery scheme.
Sometimes we have to try things out to see if it will work for us. Each small change adds up and everyone together can strive to reduce our impact on the planet.