Top Green Laundry Tips
1. Wear it more than once
It doesn't go for everything (unmentionables and socks come to mind), but the simplest way to cut back on your laundry's impact is to--duh!--just do less of it. Wearing your clothes more than once before tossing them in the dirty pile is the first step in greening your laundry habits. The United Nations Environment Programme crunched the numbers and discovered that you can consume up to five times less energy by wearing your jeans at least three times, washing them in cold water, and skipping the dryer or the iron.
2. Use green laundry detergent
Conventional detergents can contain ingredients that aren't good for you, your clothes, or aquatic ecosystems where the dirty water we wash down the drain can end up. Phosphates in conventional laundry soaps can cause algal blooms that negatively effect ecosystems and marine life. To shop for more eco-friendly detergents, look for labels that indicate a product is readily biodegradable and phosphate-free, and made from plant- and vegetable-based ingredients (instead of petroleum-based), which means they're healthier for the planet, from production to rinse cycle. These are often gentler on skin, too. Other alternatives include soap nuts, which are made from certain tree seeds, produce a soapy substance when they come in contact with water, and can be composted after being used up. (A liquid version is available, too.) Fabric softeners, by the way, can be replaced by a cup of white vinegar added to the washer during the rinse cycle. Vinegar naturally balances the pH of soap, leaving your clothes soft and free of chemical residue.
Check out more green living tips