Sustainable Home | laundry

A huge goal for myself and my family this year is to greatly decrease the amount of waste we create.  I have been making adjustments for the past few years but realized that I was in need of a sustainability tune-up and a refresher on ways that I delve deeper into this practice.  Additionally, I think that every time you start to be more environmentally conscious, you inevitably save money because you're conserving your resources and that leads to a cheaper lifestyle.  This is something that I am thinking about a lot right now as we just received a huge heating bill, the cost of living in higher in Pasadena and we have our taxes due soon.  So for us, now is the perfect time to start conserving in every way possible.  

Our Machines

The first way that we have been sustainable with how we are cleaning our clothes is we purchased a washer/dryer set second-hand.  When we were looking at buying new appliances but it felt like a racket.  The cost of the low-end washer/dryer set was 1K and as I started looking online, I saw so many machines in seemingly good shape that looked like they were in need of a home.  After a couple of weeks, Bryan and I found a set for $300, almost brand new.  This felt like a huge win for us.  Not only did we save money but we also picked up something that might have ended up taking up space in a landfill.  While I would have loved a band new machine with all of the bells and whistles, I also love feeling like we sort of adopted these old machines.  

Our Soap

The packaging for laundry soap is excessive and usually a single-use plastic and that is something we are trying to stop using entirely, so I decided to try soap nuts.  Soap nuts contain saponin, a natural detergent.  They work by absorbing water then releasing saponins, which circulate as a natural surfactant in the wash water, freeing dirt, grime, and oils from clothing.  I typically don't like the smell of detergents so this natural form of detergent is right up my ally.  Here are the soap nuts that I purchased.   They come with a bag and instructions so once you receive, you're all set to start washing.  Soap nuts are also very cost effective and a cheaper way to wash.  Also, they are completely compostable so we have traded out a large plastic container with something that we will add to our compost pile.  Sweet!  

Our Dryer 

After spending a month in the UK and realizing that most people don't own dryers because they use clotheslines, I realized how wasteful we are with our resources.  I love getting warm socks out of the dryer just as much as the next person but if people in the UK are drying their clothes outside with the notoriously bad UK weather, everyone in Los Angeles should have a clothing line outside.  Also, one of the easiest ways to save on a gas bill is to limit the amount of heating you use in your home and when applied to laundry, this means turn the water temperature down and use the dryer less.  We have had a ton of rain so drying outside isn't an option right now, but we have been using a drying rack inside.  While I know the clothes aren't as soft when they dry naturally, I am happy to trade out that luxury for a little conservation.  If we do decide to use the dryer because we are in a time-crunch, we now use these dryer balls instead of one-time use dryer sheets which saves money and space in the garbage.  

Our Clothes

One of the easiest and perhaps most obvious ways to conserve when doing laundry is to simply wash less.  In our house, we wear clothes until they smell.  Yes, occasionally I will leave the house without realizing my clothes are due for a wash but most of the time, this process works for us.  I try to wear my jeans until the dirt is visible and Bryan does the same.  This way, we do the laundry less and conserve more. 

Did I miss anything?  What are some ways your family conserves when doing their laundry?