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Category: Emerging Technologies

Cold Laundry and Warm Coke

Written By: katy | 0 comments | Begin the Discussion

When Procter & Gamble -- makers of Tide and Ariel laundry detergent -- set out measure the carbon created throughout their laundry supply chain, they were surprised to discover that the single biggest source was not packaging nor manufacturing, but people. Washing clothes in hot water uses a lot of energy, and energy generates CO2. A test ad campaign in the UK convinced a million British consumers to go from hot water to warm, eliminating enough carbon to fill up 500 million washing machines!

Similarly, Coca Cola discovered that it was not shipping, manufacturing, or plastic bottles, but rather vending machines (all 10 million of them) that most contributed to its carbon footprint.

The little things really do add up.

The good news is that the little things can be both easy to fix and easily habit-forming. Wash your clothes in cold water a few times. I did, and found it wasn't any different. I never think about switching the setting on the washing machine anymore (saving on the order of 1000 lbs of CO2 per year). If you take your reusable shopping bags to the store once or twice, maybe after a few weeks you'll find yourself unconsciously checking for them as you get out of your car. These small things keep adding up, and soon don't even feel like things anymore.

The goal is not to keep your brain isn't buzzing with hundreds of green tips, but instead to start to have an overall shift in thinking, one that recognizes that the way we use energy every day has a cost to our climate (and pocketbook!) Green tips are a great way to get started, and often bring to light areas new ways to reduce our energy use (vampire appliances: your days are numbered). But the ultimate green tip is to live and consume consciously, and to be aware of our behavior. That alone will reveal hundreds of little things each of us can do in our unique lives to be more sustainable. And they will add up.

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