I cannot make your laundry disappear altogether, but I can certainly reduce the amount of time you spend doing it!

Zero Waste Series! This series’ focus will be on specific areas in your home and life – how to begin the shift to Zero Waste or, at the very least, less waste. During our transition to “living more, while using less,” we focused (and continue to focus) on the five R’s created by Bea Johnson – pioneer of the Zero Waste movement. These five pillaRs have helped us keep our focus and helped us remember why we chose this lifestyle in the first place.

The Five PillaRs:
Refuse what you do not need.
Reduce what you do need.
Reuse everything you can.
Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse.
Rot the rest.

Keeping this in mind as you transition will help you stay on track.

Our goal with this series is to provide Zero Waste options that you can integrate into your home. Keep what works for you and throw away the rest; or… ugh, refuse the rest?!

I did not tackle the laundry room until after the first six months of our transition. Being a Costco family, I had enough detergent and dryer sheets to last months. I did, however, kept this area of the home on my radar and filed pertinent Zero Waste information away in my brain for later use.

As we approached the final drops of detergent, I knew it was time to put all of that stored information to good use.

Brace yourselves, I am about to bestow upon you some mind-blowing tidbits of information.

The solutions to drastically reducing waste in the laundry room are simply:

Minimize your wardrobe. This cuts down on loads per week. How often do you stand in front of your closet pondering what to wear? Trying on item after item, discarding it on your bed, only to have it end up on the floor or dresser at bedtime and eventually making it’s way to the hamper along with the other weekly rejects. Reducing your wardrobe will result in a closet of items you love, and that flatter you. In turn, you will take better care of your clothes, spend less time getting dressed and doing laundry.

Ditch the whites. Sorry, but if we are honest, no homemade or earth conscious brand of detergent will ever get your whites as clean as commercial brands can.

Implement a towel, and pajama (for kids) rotation day. Before having a routine, the kids would change pajamas nightly, and I would replace all the towels in the bathroom on laundry day whether they were clean or dirty. Doing this ensured I had a dedicated load of towels each week – ridiculous.

Embrace the spot clean. It has become common to wear something once and toss in into the laundry bin without even a glance or second thought. We now perform a sniff check and a once-over, for easy to clean spots.

Invest in a hanging rack or clothes line. Before you all start thinking about how you do not have time to hang clothes out to dry, chew on this. Adopting the above-mentioned steps will likely cut down the number of loads you wash each week by 30 – 50 percent. So you have just freed up more than enough time to hang your clothes to dry, and sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee. See, I got your back!

Detergent. Okay, I’ve tried certain eco-friendly refillable liquid and powder versions, and even soap nuts. All with little satisfaction. Since deciding to make my own, I am much happier.

Here is my recipe:

1 Bar Soap: homemade or store-bought, grated. I have used Fels-Naptha in the past, but I have since found unpackaged laundry bar soap at The Bulk Barn (also carried in many health food stores).

1 Cup Baking Soda

1 Cup Borax

(Optional) Essential Oils. I continue to buy my essential oils at Nezza Naturals in Victoria. They happily refill bottles and give 10% discount.

(Optional) 1 Cup Oxygen Booster (such as Oxyclean). If you live in Victoria, Nezza Naturals sells Oxygen Booster, and you can refill home containers. I do find adding this to your detergent is beneficial, but I have yet to find it in bulk in Toronto.

* I use about an ounce or 1-2 Tbsp per load. I have a high-efficiency washer and have zero issues with this recipe.

Dryer Sheets: I have swapped out chemical-laden dryer sheets for 100 percent Merino wool dryer balls. They reduce static as well as drying time by absorbing moisture and separating the clothes as they tumble. They are anti-microbial, so they can sit damp in the dryer to dry, and they last for hundreds of loads. You can purchase wool dryer balls in single, or multi-packs.

No rhyme or reason to my method but I like to have three balls in my dryer.

Essential Oils: As neither my detergent nor my dryer balls are scented, I like to make an essential oil spray for the dryer. I fill a 50 ml spray bottle with water and approximately 50 drops of my chosen essential oil. Before each load, shake the bottle vigorously and spray five to seven sprays directly into the dryer on top of the clothes. You can also add a drop of pure essential oil to each dryer ball.

Stain Remover: I am still working my way through a one litre bottle of stain remover purchased from The Soap Exchange in Victoria. For those of you islanders who are unfamiliar with The Soap Exchange it is a fantastic store where you can also refill dish or laundry detergent, hand soaps, shampoo & conditioner and different types of stain remover. In addition to the main location there are numerous satellite locations across Victoria, The Gulf Islands and The Mainland.

For my Toronto followers Karma Food Co-op has refillable options for dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo & conditioner as well as package free bar soap (including a laundry bar).

For me, once I have finished my bottle of stain remover I will attempting to remove stains by pre-treating with a simple stain bar. That being said I am all ears to your suggestions!

So there you have it, peeps. It’s not sexy but reducing waste and saving time in the laundry room might free up a little space for more “sexy-time” Okay… um, nevermind.