Today’s Solutions: September 25, 2022

Washing your clothes with hot water may be an effective way to remove stains, but doing so with every laundry batch takes its toll on the environment. About 90 percent of a laundry machine’s energy use goes towards heating up the water. As a result, home laundries in the US are responsible for almost 180 million metric tons of CO2 every year.

Turn the knob to ‘tap cold’

One of the easiest solutions to reduce the huge carbon footprint of doing laundry is to simply wash your clothes with cold water. Just simply turn the knob to the ‘tap cold’ option, which means that no energy has been used to heat up that water. In addition to cutting carbon emissions, cold washes can help you prevent ocean pollution all while saving costs on your energy bills.

You have probably heard about microfibers and the pollution problems that come with them. Well, a lot of the microfibers that end up in the ocean and then into our food chains actually come from our washing machines. More precisely, they come from washing our clothes, from which they shed.

Reduce microfiber pollution

Warmer water temperatures (and longer cycles) loosen the fabrics more, making them more prone to shedding. These microfibers eventually make their way into the water systems and our food, explains Andrea Huvard, who runs a lab on microfiber pollution at California Luther University. According to Huvard, a single wash can release around 700,000 tiny fibers. The average North American household releases about 135 grams of microfibers every year.

These microfibers are now virtually everywhere. According to Huvard, “we have yet to sample anything that doesn’t have microfibers in it.” While we don’t know for sure how these micromaterials are affecting human health, they are harming marine life. And the problem is only expected to get worse. “We may only eat 11 to 15 microfibers per oyster,” she says. “Well, in 20 years, maybe that’s going to be 150 microfibers per oyster. See where I’m going with this?”

Keep your wallet happy

With that said, the environment is not the only reason why you should go for the cold wash. Estimates show that cold cycles use up to 90 percent less energy, which is enough to power a household in the US for over an hour. As for your wallet? Washing your laundry with cold water can save you up to $150 every year.

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