Step 1: Wasting Water with Laundry Machines

I do laundry whenever the basket fills up, which tends to be about once per week.  When I was growing up, my mom used to do the laundry twice per week, on top of having some of my dad’s shirts dry-cleaned.  Laundry is done throughout the year for all people; everyone wears clothing and everyone likes their clothing to be clean and fresh.


Washing Machine

Top-loading washing machines (like the ones we have at Lafayette) are the most wasteful.  They use around 40 gallons of water per load.  Front-loading machines, on the contrary, only use 20-24 gallons of water per load.  If Lafayette were to change from top-loading machines to front-loading machines, the school would could down on 70-75% of water used in washing machines.  This could make a significant impact on the school’s water consumption if applied to all laundry machines in all dorms that almost all 2600 students use on a weekly basis.

I usually spread my laundry into multiple loads, sorted my type of clothing.  Pants take their own load, towels take their own load, sheets take their own load, sweaters and button-down shirts go together, etc.  By using multiple loads in the washing machines, I am wasting water and not using energy efficiently.  One change I will make is ensuring that I do full loads of laundry, instead of leaving some loads only 60-70% full.  This would consolidate the number of loads of laundry I put in the washing machines and would therefore decrease water consumption.

The next change I would make would involve using cold-wash cycles instead of warm wash cycles.  Using warm water for laundry is much more wasteful than cold-wash laundry.  The energy used to heat water involves a significant electricity contribution, especially when heating the volume of water required to do a load of laundry.  By using cold-wash cycles, I would be demanding far less electricity and energy, and still cleaning my clothing effectively.

Finally, I think doing less laundry in general is reasonable and would decrease my water/energy consumption on campus.  If a t-shirt or pair of pants really isn’t dirty, maybe it can be re-worn instead of immediately put into the laundry basket.

Cutting down on my total laundry could prove to be a challenge, but I definitely could see myself making progress towards this goal.  By using cold-wash cycles and cutting down on the number of loads put into the washers and dryers, I believe I will be making positive changes.  To further my efforts, I should consider using more energy efficient laundry machines at a laundromat, for example, which could probably process all of my laundry in one washing machine and one dryer.


-Peter Levine

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