Hello, Potatoes!! It was great seeing some of you at the repairing party, and thank you so much for your amazing, thoughtful responses to all of our previous emails!
This month we’ll be continuing our theme of going through sections of our homes and lifestyles to see how we can make them as eco-friendly as possible by talking about our bathrooms and laundry rooms!
Instead of putting mysterious products into your drains and thus the world, you can use things like vinegar to clean your bathroom and house! Here’s a video on some DIY cleaning products! Try to buy eco-friendly soap (more on this in the hygiene section). Instead of paper towels, rags work just as well!! You can also use hemp sponges, bamboo dish brushes, and coconut scour pads to reduce plastic. See this doc for some eco-friendly cleaning products.
Saving water in the bathroom
By doing some quick things to save water, you increase your potatoishness and can also save money! A shower uses on average 2.1 gallons of water per minute!!!! That is dreadful! Bucket showers are an effective way to save water — to take one, fill a large bucket with water (about 1 gallon instead of 17), place it in your shower, and use a jug to pour it on yourself. If that doesn’t work for you, you can take shorter showers, use a water-saving shower head, and use other water-saving devices on other appliances like the toilet and sink. Turning the sink to a lower setting and turning it off when brushing your teeth can also save water. Finally, you can install a device to allow multiple settings when you flush the toilet, or put a water bottle or bricks in the flush tank to use less water.
Here are some hygiene-product swaps that are a potato! When choosing which to buy, look also at the ingredients and whether it has a cruelty-free certification (see our March email for more info). We’ve linked to some brands in this doc. Another amazing tool to find out if the product is healthy, sustainable, ethical, etc. is to search for specific items on EWG Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database — it tells you all types of really useful information so you can find the best products possible!
• Soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant, etc.: Try to buy soap bars along with bar shampoo and conditioner — these products have a lot less packaging and you can often buy them from small businesses!!! We do understand that these are not for everyone, but they’re definitely worth a try. Otherwize, look for products that don’t have plastic packaging but come in larger containers if you know you’ll use them.
• Teeth: Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative to plastic ones because, well, they reduce plastic. They’re also compostable if you remove the bristles, yay!!!!!! Toothpaste tablets and compostable floss are some more ways you can be more eco-friendly while brushing your teeth!
• Toilet paper and tissue: Using rags (you can rip up old clothes or other cloth — just make sure they’re made of something you feel comfortable using) or handkerchiefs instead of toilet paper and tissue reduces a lot of paper waste and can save you money! If you must use toilet paper, recycled toilet paper is preferable.
• Menstrual products: Menstrual cups, period underwear, period leggings, reusable pads, etc. are all great eco-friendly options. It might sound scary, and for a lot of these products there is a learning curve. But that’s true for pretty much everything in life, and it’s a lot better once you start! Anyway, we think it’s less scary than the mountains and mountains of stuff you’d throw away otherwise!! They are also better for you, save lots of water used in making disposable ones, and will save you moneeeeeyyyyy!!!! (A menstrual cup can save $1,180 in 10 years!!!). These videos talk more about the differences and benefits of switching to a menstrual cup: Why You Should Switch to a Menstrual Cup, Tampons vs Menstrual Cups | A Basic Intro.
You can compost hair, nail clippings, lint from natural fibers, bamboo toothbrushes, and some kinds of floss, so it can be useful to keep a compost bin in your bathroom. As usual, try to reduce waste as much as possible — the previous section has tips on that! Also, separate your recycling from your trash — you can recycle clean cardboard and paper packaging, soap bottles without the nozzle, etc.
In this section, we’ll be talking about ways to reduce waste when doing laundry and taking good care of it so it lasts longer. We aren’t experts — and certainly aren’t going to pretend to be — but we tried to gather as much information on this topic as we could. That being said, if there is any incorrect information please correct us by email or through our website so we can edit the information on our website. So let’s talk about some different things to consider and how to handle them.
- Temperature: Stain removal and cleaning whites use warm or hot, delicates use cold, and all others use cool or warm.
- Under- and over-stuffing: For front-loading washers, you should fill it to the top, or depending on how much space is at the top, you can even fill it past that. For top-loading washers, you should never fill it up past the post in the middle or not more than 80%. For drying, if there is a fill line, use that as your guide. If not, halfway is a good amount, or whenever possible, try to air-dry them. But also don’t under-stuff them: Try to fill them to the max amount as much as possible to avoid wasting water.
- Laundry and dishwasher detergent: Try to find cruelty-free, preferably biodegradable detergent, and look for things like tablets and powder that use less plastic packaging. Using more detergent doesn’t mean the clothes will be cleaner — it will actually make them dirtier since the washer won’t be able to wash all of it out. It also wastes a lot of money and product, so make sure to follow the product/washer guidelines.
- Use dryer balls! Put them in with your clothes to dry and they’ll separate the clothes as they dry, making the drying time shorter and softening the clothes. You can also (depending on the kind) put essential oils on them so you have a nice scent for your clothes. 🙂
- Another thing to look out for is microplastics. If you have any plastic in your clothes when you wash them hundreds of thousands of microplastics go unfiltered into the water system and into our oceans. To prevent this, wear clothes made of natural fibers as much as possible (instead of buying them new, try thrifting).
- See the bottom of our email for stain removal!
- Check these videos out for more information on how to do your laundry: How to Do Laundry, My *New* Laundry Routine, 6 Laundry Tips You Need To Try Today!
Thank you for reading and being a potato!! We know nobody can be completely zero waste, but we hope at least some of the information and tips contained in this email will help you reduce even a little bit of waste! Here is this month’s checklist.
- Dye: The result from washing dyed clothes with other colors (usually whites) can be challenging. To remove them, soak the affected clothing in the washing machine in cool water mixed according to package directions with oxygenized non-chlorine bleach for eight hours. Repeat as many times as needed, then when the stain is gone, wash and dry as usual.
- Bodily Fluids and Organic Protein: Sweat, vomit, and all of those other fun bodily fluids are going to require the use of enzymatic detergent (which breaks down proteins) and oxygenated non-chlorine bleach. Wash it on the hottest setting recommended for the fabric.
- Dairy: If the stain has dried, you’ll first need to gently scrape or brush off anything that’s crusted on the garment. Then soak it for five to 30 minutes (depending on how old the stain is) in cool water with an enzyme presoak, repeating with fresh water if necessary. If the stain has already discolored, try washing it with a bleach product safe for the color of the fabric.
- Blood: Soak garments in cold water, rubbing the stain gently with your fingers to remove as much blood as possible. If the water begins to turn pink, replace it and keep going until the water stops turning pink. Rinse the garment well, blot the stain, and apply an enzymatic stain remover (one with extra stain-fighting power if possible), allowing it to sit before washing.
- Tomato-based stains: So for tomato-based stains, reach for a good-quality dishwashing liquid that cuts grease. Apply the liquid directly to the stain and gently scrub it with your fingers. Rinse and repeat as many times as necessary. If the stain remains after much of the oil has been broken down, try the fruit-stain method.
- Coffee: Run cold water over the stain to remove as much of it as possible. Then cover the stain with enzymatic laundry detergent and use a soft-bristled brush to work the detergent into the fabric. Let it stand for five to 10 minutes, then launder as usual (without rinsing out the detergent) on the hottest setting possible for that fabric type.
- Grass: Cover the stain in an enzymatic laundry detergent or stain treater and gently rub the fabric together, then wash it as you normally would without removing the treatment. If the stain isn’t completely gone and the clothing is colorfast (you can test it in an inconspicuous area if you aren’t sure), you can treat it with diluted white vinegar and wash it again.
- Grease: Whether it’s cooking oil or motor oil, rinse the stain immediately with cold water, then rub the stain with the dishwashing liquid to help loosen the grease. Rinse it and repeat as necessary. Then gently rub an enzymatic laundry detergent (one with extra stain-fighting power if it’s motor oil) into the stain, covering the entire area (make sure you go all the way through the garment) and let it sit for five to 10 minutes or a little longer. Without rinsing out the laundry detergent, wash it as usual using the hottest setting that fabric can handle.
- Ink: Place a paper towel or scrap fabric under the stained area and saturate the stain with hairspray (yes, you read that right). Let it sit for a few seconds, then use a clean cloth to blot away the excess. Repeat as necessary, then wash the garment as usual with an enzymatic laundry detergent.
- Combination: Always start by treating any grease aspect of the stain first by rubbing the area with a grease-fighting dishwashing liquid and cold water to loosen the grease and rinsing. Then attack any protein stains (sticking with cold water at first to avoid “cooking” any dairy or eggs) with an enzymatic presoak followed by a wash at the highest temperature recommended for that fabric (with more enzymatic laundry detergent. Finally, you can treat pigment-based stains with a soak in a solution of oxygenized non-chlorine bleach and water. And if that doesn’t work, colorfast fabrics can be treated with a mix of equal parts white vinegar and water and washed again.
*We did not write this