Green Book Fairies #5: Let’s Talk About Laundry!

We are loving these Green Book Fairies posts and this one is about reducing your negative impact on the environment when doing laundry!

From @shopwithgoodintent!

Let’s Talk About…. Laundry!

Welcome to day five of #GreenBookFairies! Inspired by #PlasticFreeJuly we are sharing ways to reduce our impact on the environment. We hope you can find some ideas!

The problem:

Conventional detergents can contain ingredients that aren’t good for you, your clothes, or aquatic ecosystems where the dirty water we wash down the drain can end up. Phosphates in conventional laundry soaps can cause algal blooms that negatively effect ecosystems and marine life.

According to the health and wellness website Sixwise.com, some of the most harmful ingredients in dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener alike include benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer), benzyl alcohol (an upper respiratory tract irritant), ethanol (linked to central nervous system disorders), limonene (a known carcinogen) and chloroform (a neurotoxin and carcinogen), among others. Washing and drying a 5 kg load of laundry every two days creates nearly 440 kg of carbon dioxide emissions in a year – with most of that energy used up in the dryer cycle.

The solution:

  • Look at the products you use for laundry, how they are packaged, and also – how many warnings of toxic ingredients are on the containers!
  • Switch from detergents to natural alternatives. This will not only cut out the plastic, but is kinder to your clothes and skin. One option is using soap nuts, another is to (easily) make detergent from solid soap, or look for detergents that are biodegradable and phosphate-free. Avoid those little pouches!
  • Only use the dryer when absolutely necessary – instead dry your clothes outside (or hang inside if well ventilated). It will make your clothes smell fresher and last longer, save money AND energy
  • Reduce the amount of laundry you do – wear things more than once! There are many items you can wear a few times before washing. Oh and use wooden or metal pegs!

For those who don’t want to give up the benefits of fabric softeners but are afraid to risk exposure to potentially toxic chemicals, National Geographic’s Green Guide recommends adding either a quarter cup of baking soda or a quarter cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle. Some fairies use natural salt mixed with essential oils, which leave a lovely scent.

Soap nuts are also known as “soap berries,” and come from the Sapindus mukorossi (Soap Berry) tree in the Himalayas. The reason why they’re able to act like a natural fabric softener and laundry detergent is because of the cleaning agent ‘Saponin’ that’s found in the berries!

Make your own detergent from a solid block:

Savon Olive De Marseilles is a high quality solid soap from France, and has had the same ingredients for decades. It’s a magic potion, really! You can use it for washing dishes (just rub your wet brush or scrubber on it to get a foam) and you can also grate it and mix with water to make detergent – up to you how strong!

Useful links:

Looking at the harmful substances in regular softeners: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/greener-laundry/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20health%20and,system%20disorders)%2C%20limonene%20(a

Have a look at this article on the environmental impact of your laundry: https://cleanhomeguide.co.uk/environmental-impact-of-laundry/#:~:text=The%20manufacturing%2C%20cleaning%2C%20and%20disposal,or%20three%20times%20a%20week.

Fairy verdict:

Many of the book fairies have switched to soap nuts since they were featured in the #BookFairyBox, and a few of us also use our washing up solid soap to create detergent!

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