The Environmental Impact of Conventional Laundry Detergents

If you find yourself concerned about your environmental impact and how to improve it, turn toward your laundry. Yes, really. In our quest to keep our whites and colors bright, we are actually dramatically affecting the quality of our local lakes, rivers, streams, and water supply.

Though the laundry room is the last place many of us would look to improve our eco-friendly lifestyle, laundry detergents are the culprit for many serious environmental problems. Did you know the big brand names commonly found on store shelves contain countless chemicals and toxins that are extremely harmful to the environment?

Given that these ingredients are also non-biodegradable, they travel much farther than our laundry rooms and leach into our waterways, causing irreparable harm to aquatic life and their ecosystems. Let’s look at the common environmental side-effects of most brand name laundry detergents.

Severe Eutrophication

Phosphates are chemicals that contain the element phosphorus. Phosphorus and nitrogen are both considered nutrients, and when they leach into waterways from laundry detergents, they stimulate the excessive growth of algae and other vegetation. Optical brighteners in laundry detergents are also thought to cause uncontrolled algae growth. These algal blooms are often referred to as eutrophication.

At first glance, this may not sound too serious. What’s wrong with some extra plant life? But this unrestrained growth of algae severely clouds the water, reduces sunlight, strips the water of oxygen, and effectively kills other plant life and even aquatic life. Phosphates from laundry detergents feed the algae to grow out of control and create this dangerous imbalance. Even when the algae dies, the bacteria that breaks the algae down uses more oxygen in the water, depriving and suffocating fish and other aquatic life. Though all plants need phosphorus to grow, this over-saturation of nutrients will slowly destroy the aquatic ecosystem due to continual oxygen depletion.

Compromised Aquatic Life and Fish Depopulation

In laundry detergents, chemical surfactants are the ingredients that strip clothing of dirt and grime. However, these active cleaning agents are extremely toxic to aquatic ecosystems. These surfactants do not biodegrade but break down to form even more varieties of toxic chemicals. The surfactants particularly harm aquatic life like fish by breaking down the protective layer of mucus that coats their scales and damaging their gills. This protective layer of mucus functions to protect fish from parasites and bacteria. Fish then more easily absorb toxic run-off, pesticides, and other water pollutants. Not only do these fish become compromised to consume, but it has been found that they are also unlikely to continue breeding.

Chemical Water Pollution

Dyes may look pretty to the eye, but they hide some ugly side-effects. If you’ve bought a big brand liquid laundry detergent from the store, chances are that detergent is dyed blue. Does the dye serve any purpose beyond aesthetics? Unfortunately, no. Blue dyes in laundry detergents are commonly used as a marketing tactic to attract buyers and make them think of cleanliness while providing no real cleaning power.

These dyes contain heavy metals like arsenic and lead. Consequently, it’s not surprising to find that these detergent dyes are plain toxic to fish, aquatic life, and humans alike. These dyes accumulate and contaminate local lakes, streams, and water supplies, killing aquatic life and polluting our drinking water even after it goes through water plants.

The Solution

The first step to reducing all-of-the-above environmental problems is to switch to a plant-based, eco-friendly laundry detergent like Fawn Organics’ Laundry Detergent. All-natural and organic, Fawn Organics’ plant-based formula is completely biodegradable. It contains no harsh toxins or chemicals—such as phosphates, parabens, dyes, optical brighteners— that cause the long-lasting environmental damage discussed in this article.

Take the leap and visit our shop for a greener and cleaner environment.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

seventeen + one =