Sat in the Pacific ocean, off the coast of Hawaii and between the US mainland and Japan sits the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, an area of 1.6 million square kilometers – twice the size of Texas, or three times the size of France, and almost everything in this gigantic pile of trash, is plastic.
Maybe it was seeing the patch, or maybe seeing the documentary where they had to pull a straw out of a turtle’s nose made you want to use fewer plastic straws; or maybe watching a turtle try to eat a plastic bag because it looked just like a jellyfish made you want to use less disposable bags. Whatever your reason, a lot of us are trying to reduce how much plastic we use on a daily basis.
But what about when you’ve done the obvious things like straws and plastic bags? You can avoid toiletries with microbeads and not buy into Fast Fashion but another simple and easy way to reduce how much plastic you consume is by using plastic free laundry detergent.
I know the first time someone told me I should be thinking about what I put down the plug I was surprised, after all, it all disappears down there and is cleaned somewhere else, why do I need to worry about it? But, of course it has to go somewhere, it doesn’t just disappear and that stuff which seems way too gross to touch in my laundry room is just being sent down my pipes to mingle with the water supply out there in the world.
In this article I’m going to lay out the upsides of using plastic free detergent, what your options are, what the best option for you might be and some great recommendations you can start using now.
Are Plastic Free Detergents More Expensive?
The simple answer is, yes and no. There are some options that are, for sure, more expensive, but there are some that are really cheap. For example, these NaturOli Soap Berries can be used up to 10 times each, so a 1-Lb box of berries will buy you about 240 washes, which makes them one of the cheapest options around, plastic-free or not. Plus there’s the eco bar mentioned below which is even cheaper. So there are really cheap alternatives available, they just may not be quite as convenient or simple as some of the more expensive options.
Types Of Laundry Detergent
The different kinds of detergent can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to make the most eco-friendly choice, so here’s a brief summary.
They look like little pieces of paper or card and they dissolve completely in the wash without leaving a messy residue. They’re small, light, easy to store and keep for a long time but they tend to be more expensive than other options, so probably not what to go for if you’re on a tight budget. If you do want strips Tru Earth do a really great option that have great reviews.
Little bricks of compacted detergent that dissolve in the wash. It’s possible to get plastic free versions such as these Grove plastic free tablets but generally, plastic free versions tend to be a little harder to come by, perhaps not the cheapest option but they can be great and very convenient.
Little dollops of detergent wrapped in polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), your average pod probably isn’t what someone who is trying to reduce their plastic use is going for, but fortunately in the last few years a few different companies have been making eco-friendly alternatives to your classic Tide Pod. Probably the most successful of these alternatives is made by Dropps who not only wrap their pods in an eco-friendly and dissolvable plastic wrap, but their packaging is all recyclable cardboard designed to be low weight and small to reduce the carbon footprint of transport.
Probably the most common type of laundry detergent used, but unfortunately the one type that I cannot find a plastic free version of, no matter how hard I look. There are a few that claim to be good for the environment (in a very unspecific and general kind of way) but they all come in plastic packaging. If you come across any plastic free versions please let me know!
Powder tends to be better than liquid as it often comes in cardboard, and therefore easily recyclable, packaging, although that doesn’t guarantee what’s inside. But, this powder from Biokleen uses plant based cleaning enzymes and comes in easily recyclable packaging.
This is maybe my new favorite option, and one I didn’t even know about until doing the research for this article, but I think it’s going to be my go-to detergent from now on, although it requires a little more time and effort than the other options. Your bar of Tangie Laundry Soap arrives, in cardboard packaging, you break it up into pieces and then dissolve one of those pieces in water and keep it somewhere out of the way. When you come to do your wash you put one or two tablespoons of the detergent-water mix in your wash and you’re good to go. Great, cheap, simple and almost no packaging.
The Best Eco-Friendly, Plastic Free and Vegan Laundry Detergents
Dropps Sensitive Skin & Baby Laundry Detergent Pods
Dropps Pods are probably the most famous eco-friendly laundry detergent on the market right now, and with good reason, they give a great clean and have really worked to be as eco-friendly as possible. Not only is their packaging recyclable, but they also reduce the size and weight as much as possible in order to reduce the CO2 impact of transport.
Tangie Laundry Soap Bar
As I said above, I’ve just discovered the Tangie Laundry Soap Bar and I’m super impressed. Each bar makes enough detergent for around 200 washes and it comes in recyclable packaging. It requires a tiny amount more effort than your average, and somewhere to store the detergent once you’ve dissolved the bar, but I think it’s worth the effort, both for the environmental impact and the impressive cost savings.
Meliora Washing Powder
This powder, which is delivered in a refillable metal can is dye-free, preservative-free, palm-oil free, vegan, and synthetic fragrance-free. It’s made in Chicago and costs less than 30c for a wash. I’m a big fan of any product that is proud of its ingredients and shows them boldly on the front, without trying to hide what’s inside.
Eco-Nuts Soap Berries
How can you not love a washing detergent that is actually Himalayan Berries? It sounds too good to be true, but you just put 4-5 of these berries in your wash along and leave them to do their thing. When they get mixed with water they produce a naturally occurring product called saponin, which gently cleanses laundry. What’s more you can reuse them up to ten times.
Nellie’s Laundry Powder
Coming in a recyclable tin this powder from Canadian company Nellie’s is Non Toxic, Biodegradable, Hypoallergenic, and Vegan. It’s zero plastic, simple and, unlike some of the other alternatives, it doesn’t feel like you’re using an eco-friendly alternative, it just seems like any other powder out there.
What should be obvious is just how many alternatives there are out there. Whatever your personal preference or reason for reducing plastic consumption, there is an option for you. Some plastic free alternatives are cheaper than the normal options, some are just as simple and some don’t seem as though you’re being eco-friendly (although you are). Whatever your preference it’s just a few minutes of research and you can find another ever-so-easy way of reducing your plastic consumption and impact on our planet.
Last update on 2021-04-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API