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For anyone wishing to reduce his or her environmental impact, laundry poses a dilemma. However, there are a variety of different changes you can make that will help reduce your usage of natural resources. Here are a few of them:

1) Wash in cold water.
Fabrics will retain their color and strength longer. Use an eco-friendly spot remover or presoak to help loosen grease or stains.

2) Use plant-based/enzyme detergents, spot removers, and whiteners.
Most commercial laundry detergents are petroleum-based, which means that by purchasing them, you are contributing to oil dependency and releasing hazardous chemicals into land and water. Petroleum-based detergents contain dyes, optical whiteners, phosphates, and heavy perfumes, all of which are harmful to aquatic life. Plant-based detergents are rapidly biodegradable and gray water safe.

Enzyme cleaners break down stains by using specific enzymes: proteases for protein; lipolases for fats or lipids; and, amylases for carbohydrates.

3) Avoid Bleach.
It's highly caustic and once it’s released into the environment, it can take decades to neutralize. Use either hydrogen peroxide or sodium percarbonate, an environmentally benign, very concentrated mixture of washing soda and hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide simply breaks down into oxygen and water, and sodium percarbonate breaks down into oxygen, water, and soda ash.

4) When it’s time to replace, purchase efficient washers and dryers.
Consider Energy Star appliances, which use less water and power. Most standard washers use around 40 gallons of water; newer models only require 18-25 gallons.

5) Buy concentrated or in bulk.
This means less packaging and fewer shipments.

6) Keep lint traps clean.
This will help your dryer work more efficiently.

7) Avoid fabric softeners.
These sheets contain harsh chemicals and have strong scents. Try using dryer balls or cloth static eliminator sheets.

8) If you use al laundry service, look for a launderer that uses safe, eco-friendly detergents or ask if they’d be willing to try environmentally friendlier options.

9) Line dry.
It gets you outdoors, saves electricity, and provides a little exercise. This can be done all year long. In cold weather, you can use a foldable wooden rack indoors. Stuffy neighbors? Check out Project Laundry List to read about your right to dry!