A study released by Cambridge University, titled ‘Well Dressed?‘, demonstrates that a shocking 60% of the greenhouse gases generated over the life of a T-shirt come from washing and drying machines. All of the energy and carbon emissions used to grow, manufacture, ship and sell clothes doesn’t even come close to the energy and emissions needed to clean them.
And thatâ€™s just one T-shirt. If, like me, you live with a young family, youâ€™ll know that the washing machine seems to be on nearly every day. So, just how do we find ways to wash and clean our clothes whilst reducing our impact on the environment?
Firstly, you should know that 90% of the total energy used by a typical washing machine is used to heat the water, with only 10% powering the motor. So think about what temperature you set your wash to and ideally turn it down to 30 degrees, which many new detergents are designed to work well at. It’s also important to think about the wash cycle you use. We sometimes wash our clothes for too long, using extra energy, wasting water and increasing the wear and tear on the equipment and clothes. Experiment with your washing settings, gradually cutting back on the cycle to find your machine’s ‘sweet spot’.
Of course, our cleaning habits have changed over the years. You can learn more about how they have changed and the environmental impact, dating right back to pre-historic times, in this very interesting article.
Today, there are a few ways you can make a difference. Going back to hand washing your clothes could be one answer, if you’ve got more time and energy than you know what to do with (is that actually possible?). The Wonderful Washing Machine uses 90% less detergent and water than conventional machines, with a capacity equal to some of the more expensive machines. But you’ll work up a bit of a sweat getting it to work.
And this guy certainly may need to get a new hobby/ life. His pioneering Cyclean, born out of frustration with waste and a ‘hankering to tinker’, is a great idea but perhaps not all that convenient for modern living.Brilliant but just a little bonkers.
If you’re stuck using a washing machine like many of us, then this Bosch is considered up there with the best of them. The Nexxt Washer earned the highest Energy Star rating possible. The statistics are pretty impressive: the machine uses only thirteen gallons of water per load compared to 50 gallons for the average top-loading machine.
But let’s look into the future. There are some really exciting developments coming. The Electrolux SHINE washing machine concept ‘addresses the issue of shrinking domestic space’ with a tiny, wall-mountable design. They’ve focused on the simplicity and purity ‘to make the appliance look more like bathroom furniture than just a washing machine’.
and why not lets imagine a washing machine that uses no water. That would be pretty incredible right? But using 90% less water would still be a a pretty good step in the right direction. Thanks to a new technique using dirt-busting plastic pellets, this Xeros does just that. It also uses one third of the detergent ordinarily needed thanks to the scrubbing capabilities of the nylon beads.
Looking further into the future, the Pebble is a concept for the year 2022 from designer Ning Ning Lee addressing the ‘age-old problem of washing machine cycles that take too long’. It washes, steams and dries quickly, and it’s going to look great on your wall.
Coming again from the clever people at Electrolux, the KaionWAVE washing system aims to use ultraviolet-C light for cleaning nano-coated fabrics many believe will make the clothing in the future. It’s ideal for houses with limited space and involves no water or chemicals. I can’t wait for this egg shaped beauty.
But for something a little more imminent, the Swirl concept is something just around the corner. The spherical design means you can transport the tub to a water source. The ball then becomes a plaything you can roll, throw or kick, simultaneously cleaning the clothes. It can also be used as a simple water carrier, making it ideal for less developed areas.
So there you go. The future of the washing machine looks a littleÂ environmentallyÂ cleaner – hopefully just like your clothes!