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Natural Laundry Detergent
Soap nuts are natural laundry detergent, that are both organic and biodegradable. The water run off from their wash cycles is safe and phosphate free, the used soap nuts can be returned to the Earth as compost.
Sure pretty much any detergent on the market can clean our clothes, but what is the hidden cost of using commercial detergents? As we grow more eco-conscious as a society, such questions need to be asked and answered. In the case of laundry detergent and its impact on the environment, the answer is an alarming one.
CLEAN OUR CLOTHES, POLLUTE THE ENVIRONMENT…
When a wash cycle ends, where does the “dirty” water go? Seemingly, it disappears. But more accurately, it gets transported — to a septic tank or a drain field. During this process, water-runoff reaches freshwater streams, polluting them. Most of the chemicals used in detergents do not degrade quickly, lasting for years after use.
Detergent Ingredients. When reading the ingredients of laundry detergent, be aware that “buffering agent,” “stabilizer” and “fragrance” are all generic terms. They may sound vague and innocuous, but they hide the real chemicals behind them like alkyl benzene sulfonates and alkyl phenoxy polyethoxy ethanols. Say that 5 times fast!!!
Among the more common chemicals used in commercial detergents, consider:
- Linear alkyl sodium sulfonates (LAS): The most common surfactants used in detergents, these agents release carcinogenic toxins into the environment during production.
- Optical brighteners: We want our clothes to be white, but not at the expense of marine life. The synthetic chemicals that produce the visual enhancement are toxic to fish.
- Phosphate additives: When released into the environment, these chemicals promote the growth of algal blooms, choking off the air supply for fish and plants.
- Artificial fragrances: Ironically, fresh-smelling fragrances are made from petroleum, which does not degrade. Once in the environment, it’s there to stay, polluting ecosystems for fish and mammals.
It’s indeed alarming to think of the impact one load of laundry can have. Imagine then a week’s worth of laundry? …A month. …A year.
A bulk bottle of laundry detergent can promise 200 loads of washes. It sounds like a bargain, but imagine the pollution resulting from just one bottle — 200 wash cycles of “dirty” water, flushed out into the environment.
Most all laundry detergents list anionic and nonionic surfactants as primary ingredients. What are they?
Detergent surfactants are wetting agents that help clean clothes by repelling against one another, creating a kind of tug or war that ultimately loosens dirt and suspends it in water. During the rinse cycle, this loosened dirt and residue surfactants are washed out — into the environment.
Unfortunately, some surfactants are known to be toxic to animals and marine life. Yet they continue to be deposited into ecosystems, with only Time being offered as a resolution. In time, most commercial wetting agents will degrade. However, how long of time? And what of the life that comes in contact with the pollutants before then?
What’s more, laundry is never-ending. Once the wetting agents from one load degrade, another load arrives. There truly is no end and thus, no respite for the environment and its inhabitants.
More Like Greenwashing
In an attempt to “go green,” manufacturers have offered some solutions to reducing waste. Concentrated, detergents for example, are intended to cut down on the use of plastic. Yet, the composition of detergents remains the main concern and solutions, such as concentrated liquid, seem more of a greenwash than an actual solution.
Harsh chemicals released into the environment during production and after every wash cycle, are still the major problem. What are manufacturers doing about this? In an ever-growing green-conscious world, minimising the amount of plastic used is not enough.
Biological detergents. These detergents, more common in the United Kingdom, use enzymes to break down dirt, literally “eating it away.” Enzymes work best at lukewarm temperatures, thus making it less of a burden on energy (heating). Yet, enzymes are similar to phosphates, in that once released into the environment, they continue their growth… and destruction.
Is there any alternative to such harmful commercial products?
Yes there is the Natural Laundry Detergent of …Earth’s Berries™ Soap nuts!