You could call this an obsessive behaviour. The satisfaction of seeing everything either composted or recycled, is adrenaline inducing to us. Recently, we’ve nailed our laundry routine. To which we are proud to say it’s zero waste and harsh chemical free!
Ecover No More
This was made possible with a very fuss-free swap (say it 10 times fast!), which is switching our Method Laundry detergent to soap nuts. We were made aware of Ecover’s dirty deed via our friend Francesca’s blog Ethical Unicorn. She uncovered that Method products along with other brands, which is under the umbrella of Ecover might not be as sustainable as we all think they are. Turns out it is one of the most prominent green-washing scams in the past 5 years. Despite Ecover has admitted to their stained past (Huffington Post link), a lot of consumers are not aware of the consequences and thought they are doing the right thing. If you are as shocked as I am, I hope by bringing this up again and again, words will spread and we can stop messing with the 70% that made up the earth we live on.
Now that we are done with the dark batch, let’s move onto lighter ones.
I made the wrong move by ordering them on iHerb on my first try, which must have gone around the globe before landing at my doorstep, leaving ginormous carbon footprint compared to ordering them straight from Australia. With the amount of I have order, I hope it won’t be a frequent order from either continent. With that said, soap nuts are now widely available in different countries.
For daily loads, I used about 7 at a time depending on berries’ sizes and use the same berries for 5-7 washes. Until they appear to be lighter and bitsy, then we compost them and swap with a new bunch.
We started using soap nuts in early spring. To give it a fair test before reviewing them, we waited till summer to wash our sweaty clothes and, ahem, under-garments. With other treatments mentioned below, laundry came out fresh and cleaned. If they can handle Ben’s Hungarian man husk in Hong Kong summer, they can handle anything. We thereby give them our seal of approval.
Ethical watch-out: Where and how they were harvested.
Scents and sensitivity
Let’s just say sweat glands are very capable of ruining clothes and first impressions. As privileged human beings, we want to be accepted by other privileged human beings, without the shadow of a doubt that we stink in social situations. With that we wash and wear clean clothes, more importantly smelling fresh. For a long time, we associate certain ‘clean’ scent to actual ‘cleanliness’.
Personally I have nothing against synthetic fragrances, however, the major concern here is it is not required by law to disclose the individual ingredients that used to produce them. ( See more in Think Dirty explanation) If possible, I always go for personal care products that have the simplest ingredient lists. If companies have nothing to hide, I am more willing to trust them.
Since soap berries doesn’t have any scent, I usually use essential oils. I am not too fussed with them being organic, truth be told, they are often mixed. I make a little concoction for Lemon, Eucalyptus and Peppermint in a dropper bottled, repurposed from facial serums. For sheets and towels, I often add in a couple of drops of Lavender.
To pack an extra punch deodorising and removing stains, I often add a generous scoop of baking soda with the batch or directly on the terrorised areas.
Any stains tougher than Dwayne Johnson, I suggest using a laundry soaker type stain remover. We are currently using NZ based EcoStore Extra Clean powder stain remover (See ingredient list), swapping out conventional ones which happens to be pretty harsh on the chemical side of things.
Keeping Whites white
Like most, we routinely separate our laundry into light and dark batches. To take it one step further, we pick out all the socks, to be washed with dark or towels. That helps keep our white tees from gathering grey lint. Another hack is to line-dry in the sun. Sunlight naturally bleaches (remember that tissue box left under the windshield of your car?).
Since doggo joined our family, I realised we need something to loosen up fabrics to get rid of dog hair in the wash. The only bugger being, softeners are packed with chemicals and have high risk of triggering skin and respiratory sensitivity. Someone in the zero waste community tipped me off with a more natural alternative, which is to use apple cider vinegar. (Link: How it works + pros and cons)
Low impact drying
We line dry as much as possible, but weather can be a huge factor (who am I kidding!). Instead of dryer, we’ve been using dehumidifier in a confined space, in our case our shower, to dry them. We haven’t explored alternative use for the water gathered from dehumidifier, but friends of the ZW community said they used it for watering plants.
Hope you find this post useful, and inspired you to think outside of the box or question some conventional believes in the area of laundry. If you have other tips and hacks, please let us know via comment or Instagram, we would love to hear from you!
Until next time!