Many common laundry care products release potentially harmful substances into our air and water, and some washers and driers are inefficient and waste water and energy. Use the product specifications, sample letter, and other resources below to ask your organization’s suppliers about the products that you are currently using. Find out about available environmentally preferable alternatives, and consider including guidelines to encourage the purchase of environmentally preferable products in contracts and requests for proposal. When purchasing laundry appliances like washers and dryers, look for Energy Star rated products.
Detergent product specifications
- Low phosphate content (1% or less)
- Low toxicity to people and aquatic organisms
- Biodegrades into low-toxicity compounds
- Contains little or no chlorine bleach
Sample letter to current suppliers
[Our organization] has initiated an effort to improve our environmental performance in all aspects of our operations. We would like to meet with you to discuss these objectives in more detail. We would also like to discuss ways to cost-effectively switch to less toxic and harmful laundry care products as soon as possible.
We are concerned about products used in the laundry room that contain compounds that are harmful to both public health and the environment. These include detergents containing phosphorous and types of bleach that also produce harmful byproducts. We would like to reduce as much as possible the harmful effects associated with our operations, and we would like to speak with you about less toxic alternatives to the products that we are currently using in our laundry.
Please call me at your earliest convenience so that we can organize a meeting to pursue this discussion.
Detergents and other laundry care products often contain toxic or otherwise harmful compounds that can find their way into the natural environment, causing damage to aquatic ecosystems. Many detergents, for example, contain a large amount of phosphate, which can cause oxygen depletion in aquatic systems. Oxygen depletion causes excessive algae growth, loss of habitat, and when oxygen levels are too low fish and other animals cannot survive. By reducing the concentrations of phosphates and other harmful compounds in your laundry care products, your organization can help reduce these impacts.
Green Seal Environmental Standards
EPA – Key Characteristics of Laundry Detergent Ingredients
EPA – Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
NRDC Smarter Living: Label Lookup
Energy Star’s Clothes Washers