Per my promise, this week's post takes us into the laundry room, where we look for ways to save not only the planet and the water supply, but also some of that cold, hard cash that inevitably goes through the laundry and comes out shinier (coins) or crisper (dollar bills).
Step #1 was to get rid of chlorine bleach. Toxic stuff. The books I've been reading recommend 1/2-3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide in that
load of whites. Is it as effective as chlorine bleach? Probably not. But
my goal is to have whites that are clean-looking, not blinding.
Step #2: Do laundry in cold or warm, if possible. Using hot water increases energy needs by 90%, according to Green Cleaning for Dummies.
Step #3: Author Ellen Sandbeck of Organic Housekeeping recommends buying detergents without surfactants
like Alkyphenol ethoxylate, an endocrine disrupter that stays in our
water system and refuses to break down; phosphates; or Sodium
hypochlorite (good old chlorine bleach). But, Ellen, that leaves all those super expensive,
Whole-Foods-y type laundry detergents that are outrageously priced!
So, Step #3b: Make your own Whole-Foods-y type laundry detergent for less.
I found two "recipes" for homemade laundry detergent and went for the easiest first:
Powdered Laundry Detergent
2 cups soap flakes
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
It took mere seconds to measure the
ingredients out and mix them together in an empty laundry detergent box,
and the clothes came out clean and fresh-smelling! Very pleased. But the total cost wasn't much less than the Whole-Foods-y type detergent I wanted to replace, especially if one of those was on super-sale. When I've run through my 12 loads, I'll give the recipe for liquid
laundry detergent a go and let you know how it works. The liquid
detergent is more economical, since it promises 50 loads from a smaller
amount of the same ingredients. However it does require two gallon-size plastic
containers (I rinsed out milk ones) and more than ten seconds of work. Hence, I didn't want to try it first, being rather lazy.
As I sit and type this, I'm down in the Bay Area visiting my mom, and now I do see why Zero-Waste Lifestyle
devoted a separate chapter to vacations. Our family has probably
generated as much trash in a few days' travel as we do in a couple weeks
at home. Yikes. Take-out food, hotel shampoos and soaps, snacks and
treats. At least I get plenty of time to read, and I leave you with this tidbit from Superfreakonomics,
a quick library ebook that covered a range of topics from fixes to
global warming (!) to the economic whys and wherefores of prostitution:
Have a great week, Marketgoers, and here's wishing you cheap, clean laundry.