Green washing (and drying)

Is there a greener way to use the washer and dryer?

The fact that you’re asking about using machines to do the work that early settlers did with their bare hands puts you far outside the boundaries of green. But since you’re clearly the product of a society that promotes machine washing and drying, I can at least offer you a few tips for fighting the system from within—that is, until you tune in and turn on to the alluring scent of grease, dirt and natural body odor.

Always use an Energy Star-certified washing machine, which can save 7,000 gallons of water each year and uses 40 percent less energy. Wait until you have a full load of clothes to wash so you don’t waste water (be careful not to overload the machine, as your clothing won’t get fully cleaned and we all know how much you base your social value on that Tide-brand “mountain fresh” scent). Um, where was I? Ah, yes, the dryer. Hang your clothes to dry instead of using the energy-guzzling machine. Finally, think about which clothes you can wear multiple times before you wash them. Just remember to always, always wash your underwear.

Are organic dry cleaners better for the environment?

As if the previous question wasn’t sellout enough, now you ask about dry cleaning?! Honestly, whatever happened to spritzing a little patchouli and letting the natural elements remain?

When you buy clothing, read the labels carefully. Dry-clean-only clothing will send your green cred swirling down the low-flush toilet. Perc (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene), a common dry-cleaning solvent, is environmentally harmful. Many workers in dry-cleaning facilities have reported headaches, dizziness, and skin, eye or throat irritation. The solvent is a groundwater and soil contaminant and a suspected carcinogen. But the Environmental Protection Agency recognized perc as a health hazard and ordered perc-based machines to be phased out of stores in residential buildings by 2020.

As a response, organic dry cleaners have popped up across the nation, but know your background information: Many replace perc with a solvent called DF2500, which might appear to be complex jargon to the unGoogled eye, but is actually a hydrocarbon solvent produced by Exxon Mobile, a company you’d be wise not to support. The petroleum giant not only hawks a product responsible, in part, for global warming, it has also funded research to argue that science behind our environmental crisis is questionable. Now that’s dirty laundry.