Earth Day Tips for Home: Laundry Edition

By Fran Hunt

“Earth Day Begins at Home” is the INYO350 theme this April. And like many folks, my family has been looking for ways to live a more sustainable life by reducing the household trash and waste we generate. One thing we’ve particularly focused on is reducing our purchases of single-use plastics – in their many ubiquitous, climate-harming, and not-actually-recyclable forms. We’ve made changes we’re very happy with by switching to products that come in truly-recyclable containers, like steel or aluminum, and away from items in plastic bottles, wrappers, and packaging. Last year, for example, we switched to bar shampoos and shower/bath soaps and it’s working so well we can’t believe we didn’t make the change a long time ago.

In January, we decided it was time – ok, past time – to find a better option for laundry products. So, like the true “person of a certain age” that I am, I posted our search for alternatives on Facebook and soon got a number of great suggestions. It was quickly clear that there are lots of popular alternatives to plastic-bottled laundry soaps and detergent to choose from – and that no one alternative worked best for everyone. And learning that helped me realize that I could make a switch, see if it worked, and if it didn’t I could just share my remaining supply of that product back with one of the friends who suggested it and try another. I didn’t have to find the “perfect” alternative on my first try. I just knew that any switch from plastic bottles would be progress I’d feel good about.

So, here are a few of the recommendations I got for laundry products. Do you have other suggestions or ways for limiting purchases of single-use plastics and reducing your household’s carbon footprint? Please share them with us at this link. We’ll share what we learn from everyone later this month!

1. Soap nuts. One local friend has been using soap nuts, which are the dried berries from the Sapindus tree family, for a while. She helpfully shared this link with me, where I learned that “naturally occurring soapberries can be used anywhere you would use soap – to wash dishes, clean pets, or on your skin or hair. Depending on the extent of use, each batch can be reused up to five times, or until their mild fruity smell (which should be light and lovely, reminiscent of the sour part of watermelon) is gone, at which point the expended fruits can be composted.”

2. Tru Earth Laundry Eco-Strips. These “ultra-concentrated, hypoallergenic, and eco-friendly” laundry strips were recommended by several friends. The strips are made with a “low-sudsing formula works in all types of washing machines, including high-efficiency (HE).”  https://www.tru.earth

3. Dropps. A number of other friends suggested Dropps concentrated laundry pods, which promise a “powerful clean,” “plant-based ingredients,” and “compostable packaging.”  One local friend was particularly effusive in her praise, “I’ve been using Dropps for laundry and dishwasher for a few years now. Wonderful product!! Easy, cleans like a champ, no waste, little box, pure stuff, no mess. Love their products. A company with a heart and their stuff works!” https://www.dropps.com/collections/all-laundry

4. Meliora. Two local friends love this “natural and non-toxic powder laundry detergent cleans clothes without synthetic fragrances, dyes, or optical brighteners.” It’s packaged in a steel tin. One friend pointed out that “It’s concentrated so it takes very little, lasts a long time.” https://earthhero.com/products/home/meliora-natural-powder-laundry-detergent/

I received a few other recommendations in addition to the ones above, including a great “recipe” for making your own laundry soap. There’s not enough space to include them all, but I hope this list will give folks looking for laundry alternatives a good place to start. And if you have other earth friendly household products you use and like, please do share them via this link.

Happy Earth Day! It really can begin at home.

Artwork by Susan Greenleaf

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