Smarter Business: Greening Advisor


Laundry care

Detergents and other laundry care products often contain harmful compounds that can find their way into the natural environment, causing damage to aquatic ecosystems. Many detergents, for example, contain a large amount of phosphate, which can cause oxygen depletion in aquatic systems. Oxygen depletion causes excessive algae growth, loss of habitat, and when oxygen levels are too low fish and other animals cannot survive. By reducing the concentrations of phosphates and other harmful compounds in its laundry care products, your company can help reduce these impacts. In addition, some washers and dryers are inefficient and waste water and energy. Consider using the following letter, product specifications, and resources to ask your company’s suppliers about the products that you are currently using. You may also wish to consider including guidelines to encourage the purchase of environmentally preferable products in contracts and requests for proposals.

Calculate savings from energy efficient products.

Detergent Product Specifications

  • Has low phosphate content (1 percent or less)
  • Has low toxicity-risk to people and aquatic organisms
  • Biodegrades into low-toxicity compounds
  • Has Energy Star seal (washers and dryers)
  • Contains little or no chlorine bleach

Sample Letter to Current Suppliers

Dear _______,

Our company has initiated an effort to improve its environmental performance in all aspects of its operations. Because you are our supplier of laundry products, we would like to meet with you to discuss this objective in more detail. We would also like to discuss ways to cost-effectively switch to less-harmful laundry care products within the next few years.

Many common products used in the laundry room contain chemicals that are harmful to both public health and the environment. Many detergents, for example, contain phosphates, which can harm aquatic ecosystems. Many types of bleach also produce harmful byproducts. We would like to reduce as much as possible the harmful effects associated with our operations, and we would like to speak with you about less-toxic alternatives to the laundry products we are currently using.

We look forward to discussing this with you. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Additional Resources

Greening Advisor

The Business Plan

The Opportunities

Let us know.

When your organization makes a commitment to try to operate more sustainably, you´re helping to create a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations of people, as well as a more efficient economy for future generations of businesses.

Get Updates and Alerts

See the latest issue >

NRDC Gets Top Ratings from the Charity Watchdogs

Charity Navigator awards NRDC its 4-star top rating.
Worth magazine named NRDC one of America's 100 best charities.
NRDC meets the highest standards of the Wise Giving Alliance of the Better Business Bureau.

Donate now >

Share | |