I’m willing to bet that you’ve never thought about laundry detergent caps. I hadn’t either, until I found all of these in the basement of one suburban US American home. I was pretty blown away, so I decided to get to the bottom of it. I found that the average US American family uses 13 bottles of detergent per year. The pile that you see here has about 250 caps in it, so it took about 20 years for one average family to generate it.
Thinking a little deeper, I wondered how many caps are used in the United States each year. There are 115 million households in the United States, which means that’s nearly 1.5 billion caps! End to end, one year’s worth of America’s caps could line the equator nearly three times! That’s just the caps though. Imagine how much space all of the bottles would take up!
Between detergent, bleach, and softener, the average family of four spends close to $700. That doesn’t take into account the water and electricity costs. That’s a boatload of money!
There is also a HUGE environmental cost as well. Detergent is toxic to aquatic organisms and algae, doesn’t break down readily in the environment, and causes Eutrophication of fresh water which means huge algae blooms. There are lakes that I used to swim in as a kid that have basically turned into lawns because there are so many weeds growing in it. This is due to recently elevated fertilizer run-off from industrial farming, but is still in the same realm.
The average US American Family’s carbon footprint simply for the usage of detergent is about 600 pounds per year, which is equivalent to 600 miles of driving the average car. That’s the carbon equivalent of 23 million car rides across the United States! This obviously has a huge toll on the environment.
There is a huge concern for human health as well! Detergents have been linked to health problems including cancer! Think of it this way: If you wouldn’t put it in your body, then you shouldn’t put it on your body. Your skin absorbs the liquids it comes into direct contact with, and there is of course soap residue on your clothes. Your body has a natural balance of bacteria and moisture that protects you and detergent can easily throw that off.
The smell of fresh laundry done with name brand toxic detergent used to turn me on, but after all of that, I’ve now learned about how it can make me sick.
But……there is a solution!
The SmartKlean Laundry Ball.
This ball completely replaces the need for detergent, softener, and dryer sheets!
You’ll save a ton of money, as this thing is good for 365 loads of laundry. With my minimal laundry needs, this would last me AT LEAST 10 years!
It’s people friendly.
The active components inside the ball are derived from earth minerals and leave zero residues behind. No need to worry about chemicals on your skin!
It’s earth friendly.
It leaves no trace in our aquatic ecosystems like detergent does. It also reduces packaging waste and energy consumption from recycling bottles. Once you’re done with the ball the ceramics inside are even biodegradable, and you can even recycle the ball.
If you’re really wanting to leave a minimal impact, you can wash your clothes using the SmartKlean and the Scrubba Washbag. The Scrubba is a portable, new age washboard that allows you to easily hand wash your clothes at home or on the road. Using these two awesome products would drastically reduce your impact. I carry both with me on the road so that I use very little water and electricity to do my laundry. If I don’t use this, I try to combine my clothes with someone else’s load.
But remember to protect our water. Don’t wash your clothes with this combo in a natural body of water if you have any detergent on your clothes or if you use any chemicals on your body including shampoo, soaps, perfume, etc. Even biodegradable soap is detrimental to the water you love because it doesn’t readily biodegrade in water. So only the purest of people could get away with washing in a lake or river. You could fill up the bag in a natural body of water and wash away from the lake though, dumping the water out into soil where the elements can biodegrade.
Simply put, we can all decrease our impact from washing our clothes. Some other things I do besides wash without detergent are:
-Wear my clothes more times between washes
-Own less clothing so that I don’t have as many to wash
-Own clothing that don’t have demanding washing instructions
-Wash in cold water
-Combine with other people’s laundry to make sure there is a full load
-Use a Laundromat so that I can share machines with others rather than owning my own.
It starts with you! These are just a few of the many solutions. Which eco-friendly laundry habits do you have? Please share to help your friends live a more earth-friendly life!
Addendum: Due to the number of people commenting about eco-friendly laundry detergent, I’m going to add this – Although eco-friendly detergent is a much better choice than chemically derived detergent, I believe that a laundry ball (that’s good for 365 loads) is much less harmful to the environment. Here’s why:
-Detergent has to be shipped, which uses fossil fuels
-Detergent bottles have to be recycled which is a very energy intensive process
-Even eco-friendly detergent still has to be removed from the water which is an energy intensive process and the detergent that is removed then has to be disposed of
-Creating these detergents is an energy-intensive process and uses precious resources
I could be wrong, but I strongly believe that the laundry ball overall causes much less harm to the environment and will also save you money.