Eco Go Go

Laundry List of Emissions

April 14, 2021 Elyse Kardos Season 2 Episode 1
Eco Go Go
Laundry List of Emissions
Eco Go Go
Laundry List of Emissions
Apr 14, 2021 Season 2 Episode 1
Elyse Kardos

Looking to cut down on personal laundry emissions? Tune in to the season 2 premier to find out more!

Follow Eco Go Go on social media

Rate and review Eco Go Go at
Check our website at

Music by Richie Colosimo - @parmageddon_
Artwork by Bronson Lockwood - @bronson.lockwood

Show Notes Transcript

Looking to cut down on personal laundry emissions? Tune in to the season 2 premier to find out more!

Follow Eco Go Go on social media

Rate and review Eco Go Go at
Check our website at

Music by Richie Colosimo - @parmageddon_
Artwork by Bronson Lockwood - @bronson.lockwood

Elyse - 00:00:32:12 - 00:01:16:19
Hello, everyone, and welcome to Eco Go Go, the show where we make sustainability easy. I'm your host, Elyse Kardos. Welcome back to season two, everyone. Thank you so much for your patience and suggestions in this time off. I'm so excited to share everything I have been researching and preparing for you all this season. I hope you're looking forward to a lot more exciting and interesting topics coming up, some awesome guest co-hosts who will be joining me throughout the season and so many small and large ways you can make greener choices in your daily life.

00:01:17:12 - 00:01:49:02
I'm so excited to talk sustainability, so I'm just going to jump right in. Laundry is something most of us do absent mindedly. When we see that our laundry's full or maybe even overflowing, we lug it to wherever the machines are and try to get it over with as quickly as possible. At least this is how I do my laundry. So I kind of wanted to know how we can make better choices as consumers with laundry to wash.

00:01:50:12 - 00:02:30:06
We have three terms this week. The first one is point source pollution. This is specific, clearly identifiable polluting facilities with regards to water pollution. The second term is nonpoint source pollution. So of course, this is the opposite of going to source pollution. This is unclear Polluting facilities. Often occurs as a result of runoff and the pollutants can come from many sources all the way from farmland, manure, to oil from your car.

00:02:30:27 - 00:02:51:16
The third term and final term this week is volatile Organic compounds or VOCs, are emitted as gases from many solids and liquids. They contain many chemicals which are not good for health and are classified as carcinogens by the EPA.

00:02:54:05 - 00:03:34:06
So before we jump into the process, a couple of facts this week. In 2016, laundry accounted for nearly 12 percent of total household electricity consumption and 13 percent of domestic water consumption in the U.K.. In the US, hotels and other lodgings account for 15 percent of the total water used by all commercial and institutional facilities. The average US family, according to Energy Star, washes three hundred loads of laundry per year.

00:03:35:02 - 00:04:16:04
That's a lot, you know, that amounts to doing laundry for roughly 82 percent of the year. So, you know, imagine if you had a load of laundry most days out of the year. That's pretty crazy. So let's dive a little bit into the process of sustainability. What does laundry look like for the environment? Where do the emissions come from? Exactly. We're looking at waste from the production and disposal of the machines themselves, fabric detergent and other products such as dryer sheets and scent inserts.

00:04:17:03 - 00:04:47:08
Looking at waste from water use and waste water coming from the machines. Distribution and discharge issues with water and the environment, domestic energy use, typically the use phase, which is the portion that we are as consumers using the machines, is the most wasteful portion of the laundry lifecycle. Well, laundry machines have become much more energy efficient over the past few decades.

00:04:47:25 - 00:05:17:12
Energy use associated with laundry machines in many households and in UK households, especially in studies that I was reading, continues to rise. So what is the cause of this rise in energy use when we have much more energy efficient laundry machines? There is an increase in the number of households, so that means we have more people needing to do laundry.

00:05:19:08 - 00:05:53:21
You have a decrease in the overall size of households, so that means that there are, of course, less people living together and more people living on their own or in separate quarters. So that means more laundry per person in the country. There is a consistent rise in average number of annual washing cycles per household, which means people are doing the laundry much more often and frequently than before.

00:05:55:08 - 00:06:36:21
More people own dryer's nowadays and there is less use of laundromats or launderettes, which can sometimes be a little more energy efficient if maintained and monitored properly, laundry uses a ton of water. And then we are left with wastewater, which goes through the sewage system and sending with it micro plastics from synthetic clothing. Wastewater plants are not really fully equipped to filter out all of these micro fibres, and unfortunately, they end up going back into our waterways and ecosystem.

00:06:37:10 - 00:07:18:27
In fact, a recent study of plastics in the waters from South Texas to the Florida Keys found that of those plastics, micro fibres comprise approximately eighty two percent of it. It's a huge issue on top of the use of water. Water, laundry, water is typically warmed or heated, which then accounts for a majority of the energy use associated with your washing machine, as a matter of fact, heating of the water accounts for approximately 90 percent of the energy that your washing machine actually uses in a cycle.

00:07:19:08 - 00:07:56:02
As I was just talking about, your laundry most likely carries a lot of plastic micro fibers in the wastewater, which are a serious issue with nonpoint source pollution. This is typical for washing clothes that contain synthetic fibers because synthetic fibers are made of petroleum based products. Oftentimes also clothes made of, quote unquote, recycled plastic or other recycled materials can also release these plastic micro fibers into the waste water.

00:07:57:03 - 00:08:30:25
So wastewater aside, in that regard, it's also important to consider all of the products that you use with your laundry, for example, detergents, dryer sheets, any pre spot treatments, fabric softener, scent pods, etc. The list could go on. Scented liquid laundry detergent and dryer sheets have both been found to contain hazardous chemicals and emit volatile organic compounds or VOCs.

00:08:31:12 - 00:08:55:10
So, yeah, there is a surprising amount of unsustainable issues when it comes to doing your laundry. So I kind of have a lot of suggestions and tips on what you can do this episode. So we're going to jump right into what you can do right after this quick drink break for you.

00:08:55:29 - 00:09:57:08
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00:10:04:01 - 00:10:34:04
And we're back. Let's get to the best part, the best stuff, what can you do to be a little more sustainable in your personal laundry venture is machine washing can be one of the most energy intensive things in your household, and it can use more energy than anything else in your household except for your fridge and freezer. Just to put that in picture here, a lot of energy use once again.

00:10:34:24 - 00:11:09:01
So no matter what you do, it's going to be hard to cut down personal energy emissions for your household laundry. That's most likely going to be the case. But there are definitely a lot of things that you can do to make a difference. Wait to run the washer and dryer until you have a full load whenever possible when it comes to washing your clothes on cycles, things like perhaps your express cycle, your energy cycle, your bulky cycle, etc.

00:11:09:15 - 00:11:41:19
Most times the washing machines use the same amount of energy. Regardless of what setting it's on, you should still use certain settings to reflect your wash load. For example, if you have a load size setting that actually will use more or less water, which would be helpful for your energy and water use. So don't disregard settings like that. However, maybe look a little further into one of those generalized premade settings.

00:11:42:25 - 00:12:13:19
If it's possible and you need something washed sooner, consider handwashing the item and letting it air dry well in advance. Use cold water for your wash cycles, even switching from hot to warm cuts, your energy use from water heating in half. So this is a really great one. Touch of a button change that you can make in your laundry habits. Super easy doesn't take much effort in your lifestyle whenever possible.

00:12:14:03 - 00:12:50:16
Hang your laundry to dry and avoid the dryer completely or reduce the amount of dryer loads you need to run. If you have the space, have a whole clothes drying area or room, all the better. You should try to find and use natural and eco friendly laundry detergent products. A lot of the stuff that's out there on the market now is trending to be a little cheaper now and a lot more affordable to the wider population out there. Just make sure that you're avoiding heavy amounts of petroleum based and or phosphate ingredients.

00:12:51:08 - 00:13:27:28
Petroleum based ingredients involve a lot of manmade manufacturing practices. Phosphorous can build up in our waterways to cause something called eutrophication. I won't fully get into this, but to be brief, this involves a buildup of algae and algal blooms which have suffocating impacts on water ecosystems. Concentrated products are ideal because you get more use with much less packaging. Ditch the dryer sheets that end up in a landfill and opt for reusable dryer balls.

00:13:28:11 - 00:13:59:09
Tried to opt for a company that uses more sustainable packaging that can be recycled or even compostable. And if you're hesitant about switching to eco friendly laundry detergent products, maybe you get sweat stains often or just really like to smell fresh and clean and are nervous, you can use an enzyme cleaner or spray than an oxygen cleaner. So this is a non-toxic process.

00:13:59:11 - 00:14:29:27
It works well on bio stains. And it's really great to get those sweat stains or funky smells out of any exercise clothes in particular. So you can use this in addition to your natural detergent. Consider rewiring clothes that aren't so dirty. Yes, I said it. It's crazy. I know. But like I said, we are washing a lot more clothes a lot more frequently as a society today.

00:14:30:18 - 00:15:01:00
I don't know about you, but I'm sitting around my home working from home right now, not doing a whole lot. So it's easy for me especially to kind of rewire things and put them into cleaner piles, dirtier piles, hold off on washing things so frequently you can designate a drawer or section of your wardrobe to use to, but not dirty. So you can decipher between them all and cut down on your number of laundry loads.

00:15:01:08 - 00:15:37:27
You can consume up to five times less energy by wearing your jeans three times before washing it in cold water and line drying them. Even Levi's recommends washing their jeans only like once every two weeks tops. So this is not a gross thing. It's totally acceptable. Just make sure, of course, that you can separate these things from truly dirty articles of clothing. And there's plenty of quick freshening sprays out there and powders that will keep your clothes still smelling fresh.

00:15:38:18 - 00:16:13:08
Your clothes may be made of synthetic fibers. Most likely they are with most of the clothes out on the shelves nowadays. It's not a big deal. Don't panic. It's a lot more unsustainable to purge your wardrobe than it is to keep what you have and do what you can. There are filters out there that you can attach to your washer to filter out these plastic micro fibers. And if there isn't one for your washer, they make bags for your laundry to go in as well as dryer balls.

00:16:13:14 - 00:16:49:10
All of the choices and variability of these products depend on the manufacturer. So just check out and make sure that you find the best one that works for you. Consider the amount of packaging that your products use or the products disposability, dryer sheets are really nice, but they end up in a landfill and there is no avoiding that. Switch to wool, dryer balls or other types of dryer balls, they serve the same purpose as dryer sheets and withstand long repeated uses, you rarely have to change these things out.

00:16:49:20 - 00:17:32:11
And they're made of natural fibers which are OK to the environment. One of the best things you can do is you can use the most eco friendly settings possible for your washer and dryer make and model, as always, this can be found in the user manuals for your machines, make and model. If you no longer have or cannot find the user manuals, don't panic. You can easily look this up online with a quick Google search, and you should definitely be able to find this, if not on Google, on the Internet, on the manufacturer website, if you can't find it there.

00:17:32:21 - 00:18:05:05
A quick email to the company will definitely give you back some results. But you can typically expect that the following settings will use less energy and resources on your machines. With washing machines use cold water, this will still properly disinfect your clothing. However, hot water is definitely recommended. If someone in the household is sick, you can turn off the sanitary cycle unless again, absolutely necessary.

00:18:05:07 - 00:18:42:09
If you're washing things that may have biohazard or other materials that must be sanitized out of concern, please ignore the cold water sanitary cycle. Turn off suggestion. Using a high speed setting will reduce the time your clothes need to be tried for when it comes to your dryer. Use the low temperature setting to significantly reduce emissions. If you have sensor drying available, turn that on and if it's possible, try investing in a more eco friendly machine.

00:18:42:11 - 00:19:17:01
If you are in a place where machine is at the end of its life cycle and you need to buy a new one. Look eco friendly. Even if they might be a bit pricier, you'll find that energy in use in the long run will be significantly reduced. A lot of the machines out there now are designed to use very minimal water, energy and have sensors to sense dryness and cleanliness. Front loading washers are the most resource efficient and typically do not need to fill the entire tub with water to thoroughly wash clothes.

00:19:17:09 - 00:19:45:24
And I thought this was interesting. But if every clothes washer purchased in the US was Energy Star certified, the US would prevent over 19 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year. This is crazy. This amounts to the emissions of more than one point eight million vehicles. I said another bonus to this investment is you get to save hundreds on your energy bills every year with the Energy Star switch.

00:19:48:18 - 00:20:21:06
And more importantly, if you own or have a personal use washing and drying machine, maintain your washing and drying machines to ensure a long and full life cycle, keep the washer door open to prevent mold and mildew build up. Of course, disclaimer, be mindful of small creatures and children roaming around your house. They do make safety guards that are child proof. If this is a concern. Wash your washing machine and dryer as recommended by the manufacturer.

00:20:21:08 - 00:20:52:14
Try to avoid any harsh cleaning chemicals and your washing machine should typically be cleaned every month with your dryer, clean the lint filter out of your dryer after each load. This is actually very important for peak driving performance, but also to prevent accidental house fires. You would be surprised how many accidental house fires are caused just by not cleaning out that lint filter in your dryer a handful of times each month.

00:20:52:16 - 00:21:35:06
You should also scrub the lint filter with an old toothbrush if you use dryer sheets. This is because the dryer sheets leave a film behind that can cause the filter to get clogged easily. So that ends my wealth of suggestions on what you can do to make your laundry a little more sustainable for our eco activity of the week. I just sent my first batch of Lyd recycling off for recycling. Remember in the recycling episode back in Season one, I mention that your municipality may not accept lid's plastic or otherwise and the recycling program if you started a little waste bag or bean.

00:21:36:00 - 00:22:07:01
Don't forget to send them off to the proper recycling center once you accumulate enough. This isn't what next week's episode is about, but it will definitely tie into it. Next week I'll be discussing something a little different and I would love everyone to keep an open mind to our episode. Green Cannabis as many states and countries move to decriminalize and legalize recreational and medicinal cannabis.

00:22:07:09 - 00:22:41:28
This is a hot topic as this industry is growing. Unfortunately, so are the related greenhouse gas emissions. Joining me also as our first live guest will be a great friend, Emma Oaks. Emma has a background in chemistry. She's a passionate environmentalist and sustainability advocate and has a lot of awesome, great insight into this topic that maybe you might not be able to benefit from. But if you can't, then somebody else you might know can benefit from this information.

00:22:42:23 - 00:22:58:15
So we'd like to make this interesting for everyone. I so can't wait to have her on the show and talk about this topic. I think it's really going to be awesome and relevant to the wider population and what's going on in the world today. So stay tuned next week.

00:23:00:04 - 00:23:46:03
That's all for this week's episode, everyone. Welcome back again to Season two. I can't wait to share all this new and exciting stuff with you all. If you're enjoying the show, please let us know by reading and reviewing Eco Go Go at ratethispodcast.Com/ecogogo . This only takes a few minutes of your day, but it helps listeners like you find the show. If there are any topics you're interested in hearing more about, please. I'd love to hear them. DM me on social media or check out the contact form on my website ecogogo.Org . Special thanks to Richie for the show tunes and Bronson for the artwork. Have a green week everyone!