Follow the Green Path to a Better Future

Maybe, just maybe Kermit the Frog’s signature song lament is not far from the truth when it comes to being a 101 Best & Brightest Sustainable Company.

In a day and age of corporate unaccountability, those of us in the area of green technology who stand firm and are fully committed to the missional call to protect the environment locally and globally, find it increasingly difficult to stand against the sometimes overwhelming tide of those who place greed over green.

In the short time I have been employed as a regional manager and field consultant for Selestial Soap Natural Products of Traverse City, Mich., I have seen an increasing trend away from being green for some of the most ignorant reasons. Be it a cost factor, or the “We Have Always Done It This Way” syndrome it seems both corporate and private sectors have seen being green as too high a price to pay.

I firmly believe that anything that amounts to anything in life comes with a cost, but the questions that confront us are these: Are we willing to sacrifice the short term loss for the long term gain? Are we willing to place the future of the planet above and beyond any and all financial compensation? Are we willing to take the risk needed to make environmentally sound decisions that will positively affect our children and future generations?

Yes, “Being Green” may surely set you apart from the normal. But in the end, do we want the weight of making life changing changes just a matter of WIFM (What’s In It For Me)? It is more than a pastime that we in this seemingly few and far between group continue with courage and without compromise to be a voice for those that have no voice or the clout that we can bring to the green sustainable technology landscape.

So you ask: “How can I live out sustainable green practices in my everyday life?” Glad you asked. You do laundry don’t you? Well here are some ways to green up that laundry.

Make sure it’s dirty
Unless you ran a marathon or spilled ketchup on your shirt, it’s ok to wear your clothing a few times in between washings. The most wear to clothing comes from washing and drying, so make them last longer by hanging it back up and giving it a second (or third) round.

Get up-to-date
If your washer and dryer are of legal drinking age, it’s time for an upgrade. Older top-loading models use twice as much water as newer front-loading machines. And since the majority of energy is spent heating water, you don’t want twice as much water to heat with each load! Consider an Energy Star rated washer to get you savings of up to $550 in its lifetime (essentially it pays for itself!)

Make the trek
Get your laundry done faster and more efficiently by heading to a coin operated laundry. The industrial loading washers and dryers are more efficient than home machines, so gather those quarters and a good book and start loading!

Watch what you put in the water
Choose one of the many eco-friendly laundry detergents out there that get the job done without all the harsh chemicals and phosphates. Even better -“ opt for the concentrated version -“ there’s no need to package and ship all that extra liquid before it reaches your door.

Always wash cold
90% of the energy used by a washing machine is to heat the water. Choose an eco friendly laundry detergent specialized for cold-water and you’ll keep your whites white, while saving energy (not to mention money on your energy bill).

Fill ‘er up!
Make sure each laundry load is full (but not jam-packed) to get the most out of the water and energy used for each load. If you have to wash a small load, make sure to change the load size if your machine gives you the option.

Hang it out to dry
Your dryer is #2 on your household energy users (after your refrigerator). Lessen your environmental impact by saving energy and hang drying as much as you can. Avoid stiff-feeling clothes by using the dryer for 10 minutes, and then hang drying the rest of the way. To maximize your dryer’s energy efficiency, run loads right after each other and put it somewhere other than a freezing cold basement where it needs extra energy to warm up.

DIY dryer sheets
For sweet-smelling, eco friendly laundry without the chemicals that are in disposable dryer sheets, make your own lavender sachet! Simply fill a cotton muslin bag with lavender (or other herbs of your choice), add a few drops of essential oils, then sew or tie shut. Give it a few squeezes and toss it in your dryer for great smelling laundry, au natural.

Just say no to “dry clean only”
These items can actually be hand washed safely, but for those tough items, there are a few eco friendly options. Try wet cleaning which uses special equipment and detergents to safely clean your delicate clothing, or Carbon Dioxide cleaning which uses non-toxic liquid C02 to safely clean your clothes.

Remember the choices we make affect our children tomorrow. Here’s to being green, easy or not!

James Michael is regional sales manager/field consultant for Holland, Mich.,-based Selestial Soap, a 101 Best & Brightest Sustainable Companies winner. He can be reached at