12 Months to Zero Waste - April - Valley Voice 2024 Community Challenge

12 Months to Zero Waste - April - Valley Voice 2024 Community Challenge

12 months to zero waste- April    

Month 4 and spring is in the air… April is Earth Month! We hope you’re taking the time to acknowledge your efforts and pat yourself on the back for how far you’ve come.  This month we’re going to talk about laundry and some of the ways you can reduce your environmental impact while still getting bright whites and fresh linens!  Ready?  Let’s go!

First, let's take a quick look inside mainstream laundry detergent.  We’ll use that bright blue liquid in giant orange jugs that we’re all familiar with as an example. (Why is it so blue?)

Picture this: you toss your clothes in the washer, add a cup of the blue stuff, and hit start.  The detergent gets to work, lifting stains and preserving colours, but its journey doesn’t end there.  Once the washing is done, it’s rinsed away, diluted, and ultimately flushed down the drain, mixing with other wastewater on its way back to nature. Unfortunately, this lab-created chemical cocktail can have a lasting impact on our beautiful earth.

First, the worst: phosphates. Phosphates were used in laundry detergents and dish soaps for decades to increase their cleaning power.  While they are seemingly harmless while in use, once they hit the water table, they wreak havoc on ecosystems. When phosphates react with nitrogen in the water they become a feast for algae, triggering a process called eutrophication which leads to oxygen depletion in aquatic habitats, disrupting ecosystems and threatening marine life.  Thankfully, phosphates are slowly being phased out, but they can still be found in some lower-quality detergents.

Next, there are chemical surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate, more commonly referred to as SLS.  These are typically added to increase stain removal power.  These surface-active agents help dirt detach from fabrics, but they also come with a darker side.  Highly toxic to aquatic organisms, surfactants strip away the protective mucus layer of fish, leaving them vulnerable to parasites and bacteria.  And, if that wasn’t enough, they also facilitate the absorption of pollutants and pesticides by waterways, perpetuating a cycle of environmental harm.


So, what can we do to live gently on this earth, but still get clean clothes?

Luckily, there are lots of great options out there that treat your clothes, your body, and the earth with the respect they deserve. Powder, liquid, concentrate, tabs, sheets, even soap nuts, the options are endless.   Our household favourite is the all-natural high-concentration liquid detergent from a company called Live for Tomorrow.  Made in Vancouver, this product is 100% plant-derived, using ingredients like coconut surfactants, and enzymes to loosen tough stains and deep-clean fabrics.  The best part is that these products are super concentrated, requiring only 1-2 teaspoons per load, meaning they’re not shipping water!  At $24 for a 50-load refillable aluminum pump bottle, it comes in at .48/load and only .38/load when you refill it!  By choosing this, or one of the many other refillable & biodegradable options, not only will you eliminate your chemical load in our waterways, but you will also greatly reduce the volume of packaging entering our landfill and recycling streams… it’s a win-win!

Curious about the many other refillable or package-free laundry options available?  Stop by for chat, we’re happy to walk you through it and the great thing is you can buy as little as one load of each so you can try them all to see what works best for you. 

Oh, one last thing: it’s Spring!  Time to airdry… save energy and save money too!

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