Green Laundry

Going Green with Your Laundry

Going green might be fashionable in one sense, but ironically I doubt too many people are aware of their green laundry options. And you might even want to consider letting someone else do it for you.

There are no shortages of wash & fold services in Toronto, where you can just drop off your dirty clothes off and pick them up cleaned and folded. You can even call for hassle-free pick ups. Many would quickly dismiss the prospect as an unaffordable luxury, especially given the current economic climate. But what if there was a case to be made that it is better for the environment?

It has been claimed that 75% of the energy consumption from apparel derives from the laundering after purchase and not in its manufacture or distribution, and that clothing is responsible for approximately one quarter of an individual's C02 emissions. Not too mention the chemicals (artificial dyes, synthetic perfumes and petroleum-based chemicals) we use in regular detergents and dry cleaning that end up in the environment and our bodies. Laundry services are making the argument that they now use super efficient washers and dryers, and many are offering green options that do not use harmful chemicals. There are services that brand themselves as specialty green options such as Greenlife but if you ask general launders such as or Parkers Dry Cleaners (which only does dry cleaning, not laundry) they also either have a special service or make green claims about their normal process.

Here is a quick pricing rundown to give you an idea, for regular wash and fold personal laundry:
Greenlife- $1.80/lb including pick up and drop off. Stakes claims on phosphate-free detergents and super high efficient washers and dryers $1.99/lb for regular service which claims to be enviro-friendly although details were scarce when I asked. No longer offers pick up or drop off even though it is listed on website.
Spare Moments- $1.80/lb + $4.00 charge for pickup. Green claims listed online including an alternative dry cleaning method (costs extra).

Note that an average load at home in a top loading machine is about 12-15lbs to give you some idea here (actual pricing is more detailed so check for your item types and preferences).

Now, if you do your own laundry at home but are still interested in going greener, you have a few options. Of course you want to use the most energy efficient appliances, so that should be a major consideration when upgrading. But that is a rare opportunity for most. So to lower the chemical burden of doing your own laundry there are always the more "eco-friendly" brands that are typically biodegradable, and contain no chlorine, phosphates or artificial fragrances or dyes. If I had more cash flow I'd use these all the time but for now I do use them for my outdoor gear so that they last longer. My personal favorite is a local brand (from Markham) called natureclean. The great thing about natureclean is you can find it at most major supermarkets such as Loblaws, Metro, or Sobeys, so you don't have to worry about getting gouged at an unfamiliar health food store.

Photo by Loozrboy, member of the blogTO flickr pool.

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