Green Meter: light green
Did you know that the average American family does seven to eight loads of laundry per week? Most mainstream laundry detergents use about 3.25 oz of detergent per load and most high efficiency detergents use 1.5 oz per load. That is A LOT of detergent! And A LOT of contaminates entering our septic tanks and ground water!
The first - and easiest - step you can take to green up your laundry is switch detergents. You can go back to basics and simply use soap nuts, such as Maggies Purland Soapnuts. Soapnuts refer to the seeds of the sapindus genus that grow in tropical regions. According to Wikipedia:
Alternatively, you can find natural, biodegradable detergents at your local box or natural grocery store. Brands include Method, Seventh Generation, Charlie's, or Allen's Naturally. We prefer the Ecover products for our laundry, but in a pinch I have picked up Method detergent from Target. We use the Ecover laundry detergent, stain remover and non-chlorine bleach.
When switching detergent, look for products that are biodegradable and phosphate free. You should look for detergents that are made without nonrenewable, petroleum-based chemicals and contain no optical brighteners, dyes, or artificial fragrances.