How can I reduce washing powder packaging?

washing-machinesWe’ve had our first Reduce This email! Lindsey from SwirlyArts/Cuteable wrote:

I buy eco friendly washing powder but it always comes in tiny boxes unlike the bigger brands which come in huge boxes. I don’t want to start buying the ‘normal’ brands of washing powder with less packaging but am concerned that I am buying lots of the smaller boxes.

I know that Ecover do larger boxes of washing powder but I tend to buy the supermarket brand of eco friendly washing powder. The boxes do get recycled but I want to try and reduce the number of boxes I buy.

From my experience, big boxes of Ecover are difficult to find – it’s strange they don’t do refill like the do with liquid cleaning products… They can be ordered online though (I’ve seen places offering 10kg sacks) and depending where you get them from, it might be comparable in cost to supermarket brand products – but of course then you have to think about the delivery footprint…

Anyone got any suggestions or ideas?

(On the subject of washing powders, Ethical Consumer have reviewed a range of laundry detergents on the market in terms of their environmental impact – interesting reading.)

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11 Responses to “How can I reduce washing powder packaging?”

  1. Lorelei says:

    I use Shaklee Get Clean products. They are super concentrated, so one package lasts a long time. Everything is diluted with water – I have been using the same bottle of hand soap and the same bottle of basic H (all around cleaner) for two years now. I purchase the laundry detergent probably three times a year.

    • Nanette Hoey says:

      Hi – Yes, I agree with Lorelei. I too love and use AND distribute Shaklee for 3 years now (as a mom of 4 – I do A LOT of laundry!). If you want to try the powdered laundry detergent it comes in 5 pound or 14 pound boxes and is super concentrated (and I use it in my HE washer) – so you use much less than normal detergents, visit my website to order. Everything is 100% money back guarantee, so you can be confident in ordering.

  2. calgary says:

    If you can get your hands of bulk packaged baking soda it can be mixed 50/50 with detergent

  3. Lyndall says:

    as i can’t use washing powders due to sensitive skin i use soap nuts, which are compostable. However they do tend to wrap them in plastic first before the hessian pouch. great tho!

  4. Karen says:

    How about making your own holiday gift box/bags? No idea what these boxes look like, but I cover all sorts of boxes with paper, add shredded paper from the paper shredder and a ribbon handle through poked holes and you have a custom and personalized gift box/bag.

    If it’s made of cardboard without a wax or gloss coating, you can tear it up and add it to a copost pile. After all. cardboard is paper and paper used to be a tree. I keep a seperate barrel by my garden shed for cardboard that I add water to. Toss in sand and grass clippings. By the fall you have fantastic “mulch” to use to insulate plants for the winter.

  5. Bobbie says:

    I’m taking a completely different track here but I hope you might find this information useful. I got sick of paying outragous prices for laundry detergent and decided to try making my own laundry soap. This was about 5 years ago. I’ve never looked back and can make my soap so cheaply and easily I wonder why launderers ever gave up the practice. Here is a youtube example similar to what I do:

    But you can find recipes all over the internet. I use an old kitty litter plastic container with a lid, I don’t use borax as I did not find much effect from it. It takes me about 1/2 hour or so about every six weeks to make a batch. It is cheap, cheap, cheap, about $2-3 to fill my container, that is a lot of soap!. I use some soap called Zote, which I can find easily locally, but any soap you can grate will work.

  6. Ecover Sadie says:

    Hi everyone, I’m Sadie from Ecover. Just wanted to let you know that our Non-Bio Washing powder is available in bigger sizes as well as the small 1.2kg boxes. You can get hold of our 2.6kg box (27 washes) in the Co-op, Waitrose, and Booths, as well as independent and online stores. 10kg bags (100 washes) are available from independent and online stores too – and your local independent store will be able to source it for you if they don’t already have it in stock. You can search for your nearest store on our website

    Refills – there are a few reasons that we don’t do refills in our powder products. We’d need a re-sealable box for people to refill to, which for durability would most likely need to be plastic. This would have a bigger impact on the environment than the cardboard packaging that we currently use. Logistically, keeping powder clean and dry in storage within the shops would be very difficult to achieve, so this makes it unviable too.

    Louisa, you also raised the point about delivery footprints – Ocado say that shopping with them is as green as walking to the shop!

  7. Lynsey says:

    Sorry – I’ve been on holiday and hadn’t had time top read the replies until now! I really haven’t got time at the moment to make my own washing powder but will look into it when my youngest goes off to school. I will however be looking at the bigger lots of Ecover washing powder. Off to Google now :)

  8. Alice says:

    Any reason you don’t want to just switch to liquid so you can get refills?

    Not much difference between them, except that even my dodgy old washing machine never manages to leave a blob of the liquid behind, whereas it does sometimes leave a patch of powder still on the clothes when they’re finished.

  9. Has anyone tried Eco-Balls?

    My friend bought one but after using it for several months, she has resorted to putting a little eco-friendly laundry detergent in each load to remove stains and smells. Still, she is now using 75% less laundry detergent than she used to. I would also recommend having a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and some biodegradable soap and water in a spray bottle in the laundry area to apply on stains before you put the clothes in to wash with the Eco Balls.

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