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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Fresher Washing and Drying “Sustainability” Cycle

A number of you have pointed out an error in one of the illustrative examples in my white paper The Four Dimensions of Sustainability. Perhaps I focused too much on green washing and whitewashing, but didn’t pay enough attention to clothes washing.

I quote clothing as an example of a product that does not have a 'product in-life' carbon footprint. However, I was wrong. It has been pointed out to me that when you wash and dry your clothes you consume energy and generate emissions. According to the
Citizens Action Coalition Education Fund in Indiana, "appliances such as your refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer, dishwasher and electronics (TV, computer, audio and video systems, etc.) account for about 20% of your household’s annual energy bill.” Further, "by using a clothesline instead of your dryer, you can save 1,016 pounds of CO2 annually.”

Washing and drying clothes can add up to 5% of the carbon footprint of an average household

Moreover, as far back as April 2007, Marks and Spencer over in the UK realized this and started to encourage their customers to wash clothes at a lower temperature. "From today, Marks & Spencer will encourage its customers to help reduce their impact on the environment by lowering their washing temperature to 30°C, saving around 40% energy per wash. Independent tests also show that around 70% of M&S clothes(ii) can be effectively washed at 30°C, without any significant reduction in performance of everyday washes. Over the coming months,
Marks & Spencer will re-label almost three quarters of its clothing ranges to include the words ‘Think Climate – Wash at 30°C’ on the garment care labels.”

Therefore, the next draft of my paper will not include this example!

1 comment:

  1. I believe that most detergents are now made to work fine with plain cold water - no heating needed.

    Combine that with using a washer with a high RPM spin speeed (to remove most of the water) and a decent laundry rack or a simple clothesline and the carbon footprint goes way down.