Friday, December 9, 2011

You can be cool and save the Earth

There are easy little things we can do to help protect this green planet. Not using garburator ( is one such thing. Another great easy thing to do is cold water laundering.


According to Carbon Conscious Consumers, a US climate campaign body, 90% of energy used in washing laundry is used to heat the water.

Pushing cold/cold when you start the washing machine, instead of hot/warm, saves you carbon footprints equivalent to 9 miles of driving. This might not sound too impressive. Let me give you additional figures.

A standard American household washes 392 loads of laundry every year. Let’s round it to 400. 9 miles multiplied by 400 times of washing... means you can reduce carbon footprint by the amount of 3600 miles of driving.

On average, people drive around 12 to 15,000 miles per year. Using cold water in washing alone is equivalent to three to four months of “no driving.” Anyway, I don’t drive really. I use public transportation, and use Zipcar only when I really need it. For people like me, I should give some other comparable measure.

4 ounces of beef produces green house gases equivalent to 6.6 miles of driving. This means, 9 miles of driving will be equivalent to about 5.5 ounces of beef. This is a lot for me or for my wife, as an amount of beef to be consumed in one meal. Even for average people, a hamburger usually comes with a 4-oz beef patty. Again, 9 miles of driving is not to be taken as too little. However, I do not eat meat on Mondays because I am on the campaign of Meatless Monday anyway. Let’s use some other measure, then.

An average household in San Diego, California, emits about 11.5 thousand pounds of CO2 per year. (I used my old address in San Diego because the site wouldn’t accept a Canadian zip code.) Following this number, 9 miles of driving is equivalent to 6 hours of total abstention of energy use in home! In other words, if you use cold water to wash your clothes than hot and warm water, you can live for 6 hours, consuming the normal amount of energy, at the rate of an average American, the number one ranking citizens in terms of per capita energy use!

Still don’t get it? Now I will use a measure everyone can understand very quickly – dollar amount. If you wash 80% of your laundry in cold water, you can save $60 per year. (Of course this depends on your area. I think it will be something like $100 in San Diego.)

In addition to the environmental benefits, using cold water is better for the fabric. Furthermore, some dirt, notably protein-based dirt like blood or egg, will not go away if you wash them with hot water. Use cold water.


However, there is one caveat in this great advice. Cold water is not as effective as hot water in killing viruses and bacteria. Use hot water for heavily soiled clothes and other clothes that require extra attention in terms of hygiene.


I believe you now understand the benefits of cold water laundering well enough. To make life easier, I will make bullet points to remember for cold water laundering.

- Wash your laundry in cold water whenever possible.
- Pre-soaking or pre-treating enhances the efficiency of washing greatly. For example, I carry this pen-type detergent <show it> wherever possible, so that I can do a first-aid type of treatment when I spill some spaghetti on my Ferragamo tie. This same pen can also be used to pre-treat heavily soiled laundry items, before you put them into the washing machine. Just soaking your laundry in cold water for half an hour can help the washing
Use specific detergents that say “cold water.”
Do not underload or overload your washing machine. Washing with full loads help you save energy.
Front-loading washing machines use less water. Use them.

I will repeat and summarize once more: 1) use cold water whenever possible, 2) pre-treat or pre-soak laundry before washing, 3) use specialized detergents, 4) wash with full loads, and 5) use front-loading washing machine.

This is a small and easy thing to do, but you can save the planet and feel great. Also, you can save some money as well.

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