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Clean & Green Your Laundry

We've all got to wash our clothes but there are simple ways to help the environment while you do it and still end up smelling good. Most of us don't think about the energy, chemicals, and other pollutants that are associated with what we wear. A Time Magazine article stated that one t-shirt can contribute 9 pounds of carbon dioxide to the air over its lifetime. You can cut back on those emissions simply by using a clothes line.

Another big impact you can make through your laundry is by only running full loads of laundry and by washing in cold water. According to Treehugger 90% of the energy used in washing your clothes is just in heating the water. They used this comparison: "Washing every load on the hot/warm cycle (in a top loading machine and an electric water heater) for a year is equivalent to burning about 182 gallons of gasoline in a car; in an average (19.8 miles per gallon) car, that'll get you around 3595 miles. So, wash in hot/warm, or drive almost 3600 miles -- same difference."

What about the soap you use? You can cut back on the dangerous phosphates that your household is contributing to the ecosystem but using environmentally-friendly, phosphate-free detergents. They really do work as well as other brands but they don't pollute the environment. Costco has a good deal on a phosphate-free liquid detergent in bulk. Or, you can make your own detergent which is easy, green and inexpensive:

Powdered Detergent

  • 2 cups finely grated soap (Fels Naptha is good for this-- I get it from Tamura's Market)
  • 1 cup washing soda (Arm & Hammer brand; can be found at the Kaneohe Longs, near the Windward Mall)
  • 1 cup borax (most stores that carry detergent have this)

Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container. Use 2 tablespoons per full load.

Another tip--don't wash it if you don't really need to. You can cut back on your money, energy use, and your time by wearing what you can more than once. Happy washing!