On Tuesday I wrote about how I'll be sharing a few lower-waste, more sustainable options for readers who aren't able to find household products near them in bulk. Not having access to truly zero waste products doesn't mean you can't still strive to live with a lower impact. Any small thing you're able to do matters (you can see my thoughts on that, here).
First up in this series, I'm chatting about different laundry detergents. Ideally, one would be able to find a laundry detergent in a nearby store, package-free (you can look here to see if there's a store in your area that sells it, and also you can visit various natural stores near your home to check what they offer). Or, you might be able to make your own from ingredients bought in bulk (recipe ideas at the bottom of the post!). But, if neither of those work for you, here are a few other options you can buy from brands who are doing things right, who have thoughtfully low-impact packaging and are, of course, nontoxic:
-A few small, sustainable companies make powdered laundry detergent.The Simply Co. makes a really simple, 3-ingredient, nontoxic laundry detergent that got even the grass stains out of a pair of my light-colored shorts. Owned by zero waster Lauren Singer, the laundry detergent ships in packaging that is reusable and recyclable, down to the paper tape. Even better, if possible, purchase it in a store near you; find a list of their stockists, here (New York City readers can even buy it in bulk!). Reader Erin suggested Nellie's laundry detergent. It's not completely waste-free, but one tin lasts about a year and can be upcycled into something useful within your home afterwards. (Plus, Nellie's makes an awesome plastic-free stain removal stick, the only one I've ever seen!). If you order from Nellie's online, be sure to specify that you'd like your order packed with recyclable and upcycled materials only, if possible. Or, you can find a retailer here. I also really liked the powdered laundry detergent that Echotopia sent me to try, which came in an upcycled glass jar. If you live in the Baltimore area, find a retailer for their products here.
-Common Good and Co makes nontoxic, refillable home cleaning goods. Visit the location guide on their website to see if they have a laundry detergent refill station in a store near you. Or, you can purchase their laundry detergent in a bulk quantity for your home, from the same type of container that you'd decant bulk liquids from in the store (5 gallons!) - it's pricey, for sure, but a good option.
-Many Etsy sellers make laundry detergent, and because they're smaller vendors they'll likely honor your request to ship it in minimal, recyclable packaging. Or, check to see if there's a seller near you and ask if you can pick up the product yourself, package-free.
-Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap: You probably already have some of this hanging around at your home, and it can be used to wash clothing in addition to everything else! Just add a half cup of it to your laundry, or a quarter cup if you have a high efficiency washer, then add a half cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. You can purchase the soap online in a huge bottle - the same that I purchase it from when I buy it in bulk; this effectively allows you to buy the soap in bulk (just all at once!), reducing the amount of plastic you need. The downside, of course, is that something like this will be shipped in a cardboard box, but maybe you can call around to local retailers to see if that extra-large size is sold anywhere locally.
-Try making your own. Maybe you can't find laundry detergent in bulk at your supermarket, but you can find Dr. Bronner's castile soap and baking soda. Or washing soda. Or bars of castile soap to grate. There are so many recipes online you can choose from, so pick one that matches what you're able to purchase most sustainably. I'm eager to try this recipe and this one.
Disclosure: I received samples from some of these folks while researching products to include in this post. All opinions are my own.