By now we're all aware of the crisis plastic is causing in our landfills and oceans. Roughly 900 million laundry jugs are discarded annually in the US alone! Recycling isn't cutting it. It's a complex process and sometimes quite expensive. Did you know that some recycled plastic is 3 times more expensive than if it were new? Plastic is necessary for certain industries, but we can make do without it in a lot of cases. Where can you and I afford to cut back? To start, we can reevaluate our households' go-to products, one at a time. Today let's tackle laundry detergent. If you use the liquid soap that comes in a big plastic jug, I challenge you to try one or all of the following listed products instead:
5.) Pods - The convenience of pods makes them a super popular choice. They help reduce product waste by providing a precisely measured amount of soap in every load. The pods themselves are typically made of PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) which is water-soluble and can be broken down into carbon dioxide and water. Depending on the brand name, some pods can be very eco-friendly. Dropps is a common brand marketed as being non-toxic. They're sold online in individual packs, subscriptions, or in bulk. Dropps seems to emphasize the importance of sustainability with plastic-free packaging and carbon neutral shipping. They even sell other products such as dryer balls, and dish pods- meaning you can consolidate orders and reduce even more plastic from your home!
Cons: Using them may not eliminate plastic altogether. Tide and similar types are sold in plastic pouches. Pods are also generally more expensive per load, which may turn some customers away. To help offset the cost, keep an eye out for sales events, or take advantage of buy-in-bulk pricing online.
4.) Powder - Packaging is key with powder; for the most impact, you'll want a brand sold in cardboard. Powder detergent is also said to be the lowest cost per load. Some powders are sold as pressed tablets, making the convenience of use equal to a pod and eliminates the plastic scoop!
Cons: Similar to pods, powder doesn't completely eliminate plastic. Also, the residue from the powder may not rinse from your clothing as easily, especially in cold water.
3.) Soapberries/soap nuts - This one is fun and unique. Soapberries are a type of fruit on a shrub/small tree and contain saponins a.k.a. soap-like compounds. They're relatively inexpensive, have a small eco-footprint, and because they're natural, they don't contain any preservatives, etc. They're even reusable for a few washes. The shell is bio-degradable and can be composted.
Con: A hot wash cycle is needed (or pre-boil the berries for reduced energy consumption) to dissolve the soap compounds. The cleaning agent isn't as powerful as other products, so it's not likely to do the trick for heavily soiled clothes.
2. ) Laundry strips - These are another convenient option. 1 sheet = 1 load, so just toss one into your washer drum or dispenser, no measuring required, and no drips or spills to worry about! Earth Breeze, Tru Earth, and Sheets Laundry Club are all brands that offer this product in a single purchase or subscription style. Sheets Laundry Club are vegan/cruelty-free, non-toxic, and completely dissolve in the wash. The packages are also efficient and biodegradable.
Con: You have to subscribe to get the best possible price, so it might take time to figure out the amount and frequency of delivery that you'll need. Also, user reviews online are all over the place. They seem to be a love it or hate it type of product, so try them for yourself instead of relying on user reviews.
1.) DIY laundry soap - There are so many recipes online for homemade laundry detergent. Many of the ingredients are pantry staples anyway. Things like baking soda, vinegar, borax and natural bar soaps (such as Dr. Bronner's) can all be utilized in your recipe of choice. The best part of making your own soap is getting to control what and how much of each ingredient is going in. For people with allergies or sensitivities or other skin issues, this is a big deal.
Con: Bottom line here is that you lose the convenience factor that we're so accustomed to. The process can be time-consuming, so plan to make large batches ahead of time and be sure to have plastic-free containers on hand for storage!
We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we the consumer have power and influence over what products hit the market and stay for good. By choosing alternate, plastic free products, we are sending a clear message to manufacturers who use sales trends to make business decisions about product offerings.
Have you or would you try any of the products I've listed here? Would you recommend any of them, or something else? Leave a comment below and let's chat!