Sustainable Laundry Practices

Our Question:
 
     What methods and applications would be most effective for encouraging University of Michigan students to engage in more efficient and sustainable laundry practices?
 
Summary:
 
     We want to know what methods and applications would be most effective for encouraging University of Michigan students to engage in efficient and sustainable laundry practices. We are focusing on students who wash their clothes in the campus dormitories. Our main recommendations include: signs or placards that appeal to social norms, positively framed messages, implementation of a feedback mechanism, and a written commitment to practice sustainable laundry. We hope that the combination of these recommendations will lead to the desired reduction in laundry-related energy and water consumption. 
 
 
 
Quick Facts about Laundry and Sustainability:
 
1.     One laundry machine will use as much water in one year as the average person drinks in a lifetime. 1
 
2.  All but less than 1% of utility-treated water is consumed. More than 99% of it goes to lawns, washing machines, toilets, and literally down drains.  2
 
3.  The average load of laundry takes 40 gallons of water!  3
 
4.  The dryer is the second most energy-consuming household appliance.  4
 
5.  Each dryer in the U.S. emits about one ton of CO2 per year.  4
 
6.  90% of a washing machine’s energy is used to heat the water – switch to cold!  4
 
7.  In the U.S., 63% of laundry loads are run with either warm or hot water.  4
 
8.  Between 1981 and 2003, there was an 88% average increase in washing machine efficiency.  4
 
9.  By running full loads of laundry in a household, 99 pounds of CO2 would be saved in a year.  4
 

10. If all households used cold water, 34 million tons of CO2 emissions would be saved (almost 8% the U.S. Kyoto target).  4

 
Footnotes:
1. Laundry Water Use. (2014). Retrieved from sustainability.umich.edu/pba/resources/water/laundry-water-use
 
2. 55 Facts, Figures, & Follies of Water Conservation. (1999–2004). Denver Water Department. Retrieved from http://www.co.maui.hi.us/documents/22/55%20Facts,%20Figures,%20and%20Follies%20of%20Water%20Conservation.PDF
 
3. Kirk, K., & Thomas, J. (n.d.). Energy Facts and Figures. Retrieved from http://www.skidmore.edu/~jthomas/lifestyleproject/energyfacts.html
 
4. Myoungsung, K. (2014, July 10). 11 Ways to Green Your Laundry. Retrieved from http://www.treehugger.com/htgg/how-to-go-green-laundry.html
 
 

This page was created by Hannah Butterworth, Lesley Heyman, Lindsay Pollock, Matt Rosenstein, Alex Stuart, and Jayson Toweh.

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The content on this page is developed by students enrolled in Environ 211 and does not represent the official position of the University of Michigan.