Earth Day: Room by Room in the Laundry Room

24 Apr

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My friend and I have a mantra: “If a homeless person wouldn’t wear it, toss it.”  That is, if you are purging your wardrobe and you find you cannot donate a piece of clothing because the donation center would think it wasn’t high enough quality for a homeless person, you can feel free to throw it away.  Aside from that, everything can find another use.

I was thinking about this earlier in the week while watching Tabletop. While I know a board gaming YouTube channel is not the paragon of fashion, I was interested to note that Ashley Clements was wearing a shirt that I have in my closet.  I know for a fact it’s a few years old – bought on clearance at Anthropologie.  Most people seeing her wouldn’t know that though.  Unless you own that shirt, you just see a cute girl in a nice shirt, not the decade it was purchased in.  See! Fashion has no need to be disposable.

I think when it comes to clothes, disposability is a big problem.  The fashion industry (that’s not to say fashion itself) is tailor made for discards.  If something isn’t in this year’s – or even season’s – style, it might as well be trash. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, 5% of our landfills are made up of textiles.  4 billion pounds of textiles are recycled annually – and that’s only 15% of all those that we dispose of.  The USA trashes 21 billion pounds of clothing every year – an average of 70 pounds per home.

I do tend to keep things forever.  Maybe to a fault.  As my mom reminds me, while you may not need to toss out your duds when Vogue says they’re “out”, clothes do have a shelf life.  Those green cordorouys you loved so much and wore constantly for the last four years will feel the effects of weekly washings and wear.  They may shrink or get worn at the knees.  At this point you can either donate them (if they’re not too worn), upcycle them, or recycle them.

Like my post on the kitchen, it’s the items we’re bringing into the laundry room that have the most environmental impact, but unlike food, clothes are not generally afforded the same scrutiny.  The best way to improve your eco-friendliness in the laundry room is to make your clothes last longer by buying better quality, treating them with care and disposing of them properly.

Here are some tips for greening the laundry room.

  • Use cold water when washing.  Everything.
  • Skip the sorting.  I don’t sort my clothes by color unless there’s something I know will bleed.  After a few careful washes, I go back to sorting by “to hang dry” and “to machine dry.”
  • Hang dry if you can.  I’m not allowed in my apartment, but I have a folding rack and a shower curtain bar.  Everything that doesn’t fit gets machine dried.
  • Make your own laundry detergent.  I’ve heard that homemade liquid detergent goes bad quickly, so opt for the powder recipes.
  • If you use conventional detergent, measure before you pour.  Many bottles have caps that hold more than the recommended or necessary amount of detergent.
  • Buy concentrated detergent.  Not only does it use less soap – it also uses less packaging
  • Or try soap nuts.
  • Skip the iron (unless it’s your good work shirt).
  • Read more tips from TLC, Go Green America, and SheKnows.

~ April


One Response to “Earth Day: Room by Room in the Laundry Room”


  1. Earth Day: All In One Place | Without a Map - August 27, 2014

    […] Earth Day: Happy Earth Day! (and a giveaway) April 23, Earth Day: For the Busy Schedule April 24, Earth Day: Room By Room in the Laundry Room April 25, EArth Day: Environmental Justice April 26, Earth Day: Apartment Alternatives April 27, […]

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