Low Waste Living: Laundry Edition

I recently posted a video on my YouTube channel (Low Waste Living: Laundry Routine & Room Tour) in collaboration with two other great YouTubers sharing a little bit about my journey to a lower waste lifestyle.
We are in the very beginning stages of low-waste living but it is important to me that I start now instead of waiting for everything to come together.

Like I said in my video, it’s more important for 5 million people to do a little something towards creating less waste than for 5 people to do it perfectly.

We started our journey towards producing less waste to make the world a bit better for Caleb. According to the EPA, in 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash and recycled and composted about 87 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.3 percent recycling rate. We need to do more. Our future, our planet, depends on it. Remember – there is no Planet B!

I wanted to go a little bit deeper into a few of the products I shared in my video so I decided to write up a short little blog post.

Soap Nuts

A soap nut is the dried outer fleshy part of a large seed (think plums, cherries, lychees) containing saponin that acts as a surfactant when agitated in water. Hot water will release more saponin which is why if I have a very dirty load of clothes, I will add 4-5 soap nuts to a glass top, top with boiling water, and let sit for a few minutes. Otherwise, I use my soap nuts just fine washing with cold water.

The beauty of soap nuts is that you can get 10-15 uses out of just a few soap nuts (placed in a muslin bag). Once they are done, you can toss them in your compost pile! A used up soap nut will be thin, light colored and falling apart like broken peanut shells. 

If you don’t have a low-waste store around you, you can order soap nuts from Amazon.

Wool Dryer Balls

I purchased my wool dryer balls before I was even pregnant with Caleb, so about 3 years ago. As you can tell from the video, they look a little rough but they are still doing their job. Wool dryer balls are an eco-friendly alternative to dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener. They don’t contain all those funky chemicals AND they last over 1,000 loads. Wool dryer balls are a great way to soften fabric, reduce static, and dry laundry faster.

I like to put about 5 drops total of an essential oil on my dryer balls, especially since the soap nuts don’t have a scent. This just gives a little extra smell to my laundry. Of course, nothing beats the smell of clothing hung out on a line to dry out in the sunshine, but I need to find a good retractable clothesline. Suggestions?

Once these dryer balls are gone, I’m going to switch to a vegan version made from Bamboo. There are dryer balls made from silicon or plastic but I try to avoid those materials.

Wool dryer balls are a bit easier to find than soap nuts, but you can purchase them from Amazon as well if you need to.

Reusable Swiffler Pad

Like I mentioned in my video, I purchased my reusable Swiffler pad off of Etsy. I can’t find the shop at the moment, put a quick search will pull up a few options. Reusable pads are a great way to avoid single-use products and nasty chemicals on your floor.

I use our Swiffler to damp mop so I just spray some of my vinegar cleaning solution on the mop head and when I’m done, toss it in the washing machine.

You can find reusable pads on Amazon but it looks like they are all microfibers. I have a serious issue with microfibers. I see posts all the time about microfibers but have you ever considered the impact that they have on the environment? Microfibers can be released from any synthetic fabric, including polyester, rayon, and acrylics, or blends of these materials with natural materials. They are made from nonrenewable sources and do not biodegrade.

Our dress shirts, yoga pants, fleeces, cleaning cloths, and even underwear are all increasingly made of synthetic materials — plastic. But these synthetic fabrics, from which 60% of all clothing on earth is made, have a big hidden problem: when they’re washed, they release tiny plastic bits — called microfibers — that flow down our drains, through water treatment plants, and out into our rivers, lakes and oceans by the billions.

That’s about all I have. If you take anything away from this post, remember it’s a good idea to buy natural materials whenever possible. Try to source clothing made from organic cotton, wool, linen and hemp. Wash and reuse rags (from old cotton t-shirts, sheets, etc.) when cleaning.