Our Laundry’s Dirty Little Secret

10.15.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

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I’ve followed the Facebook page for Al Gore’s film/book An Inconvenient Truth for quite some time now, and it never ceases to post content on Environmental issues that peak my interest. Recently, the page linked to an article about “dirty” ingredients in our laundry detergents. For anyone who’s interested, this is the Facebook page, and I’ll link the article here.

Essentially, the article discussed that the Tide laundry detergent we all know, love, and use (especially us college students who use Tide Pods) contains corn-based ethanol, which isn’t exactly the most environmentally friendly option. The process to create corn-based ethanol generally creates a lot of agricultural waste, and getting rid of all that waste adds to more harmful carbon emissions into our atmosphere. Who would of thought our laundry detergent choices would effect the atmosphere?

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However, it seems Tide has realized just how harmful their soap is and has recently announced that they’re changing formulas on their Tide Coldwater Clean detergent to make it more environmentally friendly. Instead of using corn-based ethanol, the ethanol they’ll be utilizing will now be made from not the corn itself, but from the stalks, leaves, and cobs which will eliminate 7,000 tons of agricultural waste a year creating 0 net carbon emissions. Switching to a different type of ethanol also has no effects on how well the detergent can clean, so consumers can be sure that their laundry will not suffer. Furthermore, this Tide Coldwater Clean detergent allows users to wash their clothes in cold temperatures, which saves tons of energy nationwide as opposed to washing clothes in hot water. Each year the United States produces around 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from laundry alone. According to the article, “if people start washing loads in cold water, the energy savings could reduce those emissions by 32.3 metric tons—the equivalent of the electricity use of 3.7 million U.S. homes.”

This is one small change all of us can make to greatly help the environment. Switching to this new and improved soap may but a strain on the convenience that the Tide Pods provide, but it will eliminate thousands of tons of agricultural waste, reduce carbon emissions, and reduce energy usage with a simple switch to cold water.

-Emily Van Auken

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