What you can do to reduce your cleaning carbon footprint

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It’s just a bit of cleaner, right? Every time you use a squirt of all-purpose cleaner or a scoop of laundry detergent, it doesn’t seem like there could be a negative side to getting things clean, but think about just how much is used once you multiply it across billions of people!

We commissioned BioRegional North America to conduct some research and number crunching so that we could show you—and ourselves—what are the actual effects of using conventional cleaning products, and the benefits of using eco-friendly cleaning products.

 

First, here are some quick facts:

  • Assuming an average trucking distance of 2,000 km and a CO2 emission rate of 62 grams per tonne shipped each km, over 25 million kg of CO2 are released into our atmosphere as a result of transporting detergent to stores. Source: http://mydizolve.com/learn/
    • On the state level, data from California show that in 1997, 74,000 tonnes (147 million pounds) of all-purpose cleaners, 109 tonnes of toilet bowl cleaners and 102 tonnes of glass cleaners were sold each day in California. Since California’s population is similar to Canada’s, we can approximate similar amounts.
      • In Canada alone, we wash almost four billion loads of laundry each year. While all of those plastic jugs and all of that shipping to stores have an enormous impact, lifecycle analysis shows that the biggest source of carbon pollution by far is from households using the detergent, and the energy needed to wash and dry clothes. 
        • Certain ingredients in cleaning products can present hazard concerns to exposed populations (e.g., skin and eye irritation in workers) or toxicity to aquatic species in waters receiving inadequately treated wastes (note that standard sewage treatment effectively reduces or removes most cleaning product constituents). ecobar products (and indeed, all products at terra20) are free of harmful chemicals and these environmentally disruptive ingredients.

           

          What can you do?

          • 90 per cent of the energy used in washing clothes is the result of heating the water. Washing in cold water is not only more energy-saving, it's also better for your clothes.
            • Wash clothes only when needed. If your clothes aren't truly dirty, consider wearing them a second or even third time before tossing them in the laundry bin.
              • Doing full loads in both the washer and the dryer is the most efficient and energy-saving way to wash clothes -- and it saves you time, too.
                • Dryers use almost as much energy as a refrigerator, so line-dry at least some of your clothes indoors or outdoors if possible.
                  • Use detergent in quantities as directed. People usually use 1/3more detergent than they need.

                     

                    BioRegional North America has calculated that If all cleaning products sold in North America were bought at the ecobar, we’d stop more than 204-million plastic containers from cleaning products reaching the landfill each year, avoid 250,000 tonnes of carbon pollution from plastic container manufacturing, and reduce carbon pollution from shipping by 22-million tonnes! That’s like taking 40 per cent of Canada’s cars off the road.  Pretty amazing, huh?

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