Q4 Theme: Small Steps, Big Impact
October: Green Up Laundry Day
November: Get Political
December: Sustainable Wrapping
Hot drinks, cool nights, cozy layers, golden vistas – it’s hard to beat Autumn’s natural vibes. Yet with school, work, and holidays, it’s also the busiest time of year. So let’s keep it simple this season and try eco-challenges that will be quick but meaningful. Whether it’s easy adjustments to regular chores or taking a few moments to spur real change, everyone can make a big impact this fall.
For October, let’s tackle laundry day sustainably.
Laundry day: it’s not just a dreaded chore for you, it can be a real blow to the planet. The average American does 300 loads of laundry per year. Heating water and using dryers use tremendous energy (CO2 emissions from doing laundry are estimated at 179 million metric tons per year!). Detergents and dryer sheets can release harmful chemicals into waters and communities. Clothes themselves can release thousands of microplastics that are accumulating across the globe at alarming rates.
The good news: There are many ways to do laundry in a more environmentally-friendly way, and some simple changes can make a big impact.
Green-up your laundry day! We’ve got a list of five things you can try, and some require almost no effort at all. See how many changes you can implement this month!
1) Do less laundry.It’s almost silly to say, but the simplest green solution is to reduce your laundering frequency overall. That means wear clothes longer and wait to do laundry until you have a full load.
2) Wash in 'tap cold' water.An estimated 90% of the energy it takes to operate a washing machine comes from HEATING the water! Not only better for the environment, washing in cold water is generally better for your clothes. Colors fade slower, fabrics shrink less, and materials don’t breakdown as often (fewer microplastics!).
3) Choose shorter cycles.Your clothes (usually) aren’t as dirty as you think. Those long cycles are not only less energy and water efficient, they also are major contributors to clothing “wear and tear”. Extending the life of your wardrobe is a tremendous bonus, both for you and the planet.
4) Air dry clothes.Much of the world already opts for the air-dry, but many American households use dryers every time they do a load of laundry. Using a dryer requires anywhere from 5-10 times more energy than a washer. Let air and sun do the work, and try hang drying your clothes. (We know it’s harder if you live in an apartment, but there are options! There are compactable drying racks and retractable laundry lines (we’ve installed one in our bedroom; it’s out of the way and we have the fresh scent of clean laundry at bedtime!) When you do use a dryer, go for a dryer ball instead of the typical single-use dryer sheet.
5) Switch to laundry sheets.Every year in North America, about 900 million plastic detergent bottles end up in landfills – millions find their way into our oceans. There’s dozens of plastic-free, zero-waste options to choose from. It’s not only the thoughtful packaging we’re a fan of, it’s also the nontoxic chemicals that set many above the standard detergent options. Here’s a rundown of some top options.
At the end of the month, fill out this worksheet and we'll add 20 Impact Points for each eco-laundry tip you tried.
Don't forget: You can always earn more points by picking up trash!
We award 40 points per pound of trash cleaned up (with photo evidence) - so get out there, clean up the planet, and earn some free Happy Earth merchandise!