Laundry detergents are full of a host of chemicals your local ecosystem might not be okay with, but the most serious culprit is probably the phosphates. In certain amounts phosphates can act as fertilizer, but the kinds found in detergent are often not good for the environment. Other factors are the petroleum based products, chlorine, and the non-biodegradeablity of some of the ingredients.
Linear Alkylbenzene Sulphonate (LAS) is the main ingredient in most laundry detergents. Alone, this substance is biodegradable. However, other additives to laundry detergents may be harmful to the environment. Even with environmentally friendly laundry detergents that biodegrade completely, using too much is not a good thing. Adding lots of biodegradable waste to water creates biological oxygen demand. Aquatic systems can handle some biological oxygen demand, but if there is too much of it, the oxygen content of the water gets depleted and fish die.
Most laundry detergents contain harmful chemicals that are toxic to the ecosystem. These chemicals are often left behind in clothing, are absorbed by the skin, and then are evaporated into the air that we breath (Mercola, 2011). Some of these toxic chemicals are napthas, phenols, artificial fragrances, phosphates, and optical brighteners (Mercola, 2011).
Something that I found interesting is that we have a vent from our dryer that leaks outside near a patch of garden that we have. There is a certain part of the garden that won’t grow anything at all, and we think it’s from the exhaust of the dryer. I can’t imagine this would be good for the plants, but we don’t have the money to move the pipe anywhere else near the house. For now we just don’t plant anything there and focus on other parts of our garden.
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