Laundry detergent is pretty hard to find without plastic packaging, or so I once thought.
Watch our Low-Waste Laundry Tutorial:
In fact, there are a lot of plastic-free alternatives that are safe and effective at cleaning your clothes, without harming the environment.
One of the first things to note is that the simple act of washing our clothes can wash harmful plastic particles into the ocean.
How? Well, synthetic fibers like polyester break apart during the wash cycle, and tiny particles wash down the drain with the wastewater, which inevitably gets dumped back into the sea.
Polyester (plastic) threads being made into clothes
Photo courtesy of qz.com
So even though it is important to buy second hand, when the materials are synthetic, make sure you are washing your clothes in a microfilter washing bag, like the Guppy Friend. Otherwise, try to opt for natural fibers like cotton or hemp.
Many refill services are now supplying liquid and powdered laundry detergent, so check your local Whole Foods stores or Co-ops to see what they offer.
If you can’t find any, don’t worry, we found some pretty easy recipes so you can make your own with just a few ingredients that are easily found plastic-free.
Photo Credit: https://thesourcezero.com/
Previously we posted about soapberries and soapberry tea being a really versatile LIQUID laundry detergent, but understandably, soapberries are not always easy to find and they can sometimes only be found packaged in plastic bags. Also, many soapberries are not produced sustainably or #FairTrade, so be sure to check where they are grown.
For a POWDER laundry detergent recipe,
I was able to find the ingredients packaged in paper or cardboard:
Castile soap bar (wrapped in paper), borax (cardboard) and washing soda (cardboard)
3-Ingredient Laundry Detergent (Powder)
Optional: White Vinegar (pour 1/2 cup into liquid fabric softener compartment)
Mix ingredients together and store in a sealed container.
For large loads: use 2.5 tablespoons of the powder mixture per load.
For small loads: use 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of the powder mixture per load.
Vinegar has been used in laundry for centuries as both a liquid fabric softener, deodorizer and way to keep your colorful clothes bright.
Whenever possible, try to hang your clothes to dry naturally. This not only saves on energy, which reduces carbon emissions, you’ll also save money (about $100 a year!) and extend the life of your clothes!
That’s some serious zero wasting!
Fast fashion is suffocating our planet in so many ways, and even laundering synthetic clothes has proven to be an environmental hazard. This doesn’t mean we should throw out these clothes, there are already enough wasted clothes suffocating landfills and warehouses around the world, we just need to clean them responsibly!
Of course, if none of above is a plausible option for you, try to purchase brands that use 100% post consumer recycled plastic, like Seventh Generation and buy as large a bottle as you can afford.
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