Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One Green Thing: Laundry

I'm going to try something a little different today (which I may adopt for future posts as it gives me a good framework for drafting the posts). Below are the Top 10 Green Laundry Tips (check out full article for details on each item) from Planet Green's article,  How to Go Green: Laundry. I'll write how my own habits stack up to these tips, and where I can still improve.

1. Wear it more than once
Most of the clothes that I wear to work -- specially pants -- barely get dirty, so I try to hang them up when I get home and wear them again later in the week. We usually only do laundry on the weekends, so we'll hand wash our workout clothes while we shower and hang them to dry, then wash those that need it on the weekends. Of course, if something gets a stain or really dirty we'll toss it in the hamper immediately. Another reason for at least rinsing our workout clothes and hang drying them, is that tossing damp sweaty clothes in the hamper will just contaminate the rest of the laundry and may harvest bacteria.

2. Use green laundry detergent
Here is where I need the most work. I still buy Publix generic detergent, but I plan to look into greener alternatives. However, I do use white vinegar instead of fabric softener, and make sure to only use as much detergent as I need and not fill the cup all the way. The package instructions usually encourage you to use more than needed so you run out sooner and spend more on their product.

3. Choose concentrated detergent
The Publix generic detergent I buy is at least concentrated, which is another reason I do not need to use as much of it.

4. Make your own laundry detergent
I've been meaning to do this, but have yet to give a try. If you are interested in trying it, check out this great detailed visual guide at The Simple Dollar or check out the video.

5. Maximize your washer for energy efficiency
I always wash clothes in cold water, and wait until I have a full load to run the wash -- especially since I live in an apartment and have to pay per load.

6. Hang it out to dry
When we lived in the house, we put up a clothes line and I loved using it. Now that we live in an apartment, we do not have as much room to hang clothes, but we still do what we can. We have a clothes rack from Ikea, and I usually hang dry at least all my workout clothes (those tech fabrics are expensive, so I want to make them last as long as possible). We also hang dry workout clothes in the shower when we hang wash them after workouts between laundry days.

7. Maximize your dryer
I ditched dryer sheets long ago in favor of dryer balls. The vinegar in the wash ensure they are soft and clean-smelling, and the dryer balls seem to help with drying. Because sometimes I wash workout clothes with other clothes, the dryer is not always full but it doesn't tend to dry as well when it is too full anyway. Since I wash clothes in cold water anyway, I'm going to try to do an entire load of just workout clothes that I can hang dry to save myself one drying cycle.

8. Don't iron if you don't have to
No protests here! I hate ironing and rarely do it. In fact, I do not even know where our iron is (we do own one, but do not know why). We try to hang our clothes as soon as they come out of the dryer and rarely need to worry about ironing them.

9. Head to the laundromat
Technically, we have a laundromat at our apartment, but it is only 1 washer and dryer that services 4 apartments. It would probably be quicker to take all my clothes to the laundromat and wash/dry them at once, but I like multitasking while doing laundry and then I would not be able to hang dry some of the clothes.

10. Don't bother with dry cleaning
I don't really own many clothes that need dry cleaning, so I either use the washing machine or hand wash everything. The one thing I occasionally dry clean is my winter coat.

So, how do your own habits stack up? Is there anything new you plan to implement?



S0uthernGirl said...

Great suggestions! I already do items 3-8 and #10. I should look for a green detergent too.

Kitzzy said...

What recipe do you use to make your laundry detergent?

The Green Girl said...

This is definitely my weakest area. I'm obsessed with doing laundry and I refuse to wear something twice. It's hard to find a happy balance between my germaphobia and my desire to be a truly Green Girl.

Lauren said...

lol I just shower in my running clothes and line dry them :) They still get stinky after a few weeks but it really cuts out some washer usage!

And about your comment on my blog, I haven't decided whether I'm going to train with the Galloway program at Track Shack starting early June or the Marathonfest group starting early June. I think I'm leaning toward Marathonfest but that one's a bit tougher so I need to make sure I'm ready for it!

Chelsi said...

A green laundry detergent I LOVE and have been using for years is Charlie's Soap. They are a family run company and their product is plant-derived, biodegradable and environmentally friendly. It works so great and you use so much less of it than a lot of other powders.

Lauren said...

Hey there! Yes marathonfest has a few groups that are run/walk I'm not sure the interval but I'm pretty sure there is a 5:1 group (the one I'm aiming for) and a 10:1 group. Not as low as Galloway though...

Kitzzy said...

Thanks for the recommendation Chelsi. I'll check that out.

Mary Q Contrarie said...

My family stopped using our dryer about two years ago when it broke. We simply replaced it with a couple clothes drying racks. We have found it to be very simple to air dry all our laundry and the surprise benefit is how long our clothes our now lasting. Everything that stretches seems to be lasting so much longer. I haven't replaced socks once this year. So not only am I saving on utilities and helping the environment that way I do not have to replace clothes as ofter which saves more money and resources. Great pay offs!

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