Many common laundry care products release potentially harmful substances into our air and water, and some washers and driers are inefficient and waste water and energy. Use the product specifications, sample letter, and other resources below to ask your department’s/institution’s suppliers about the products that you are currently using.
Staff in Custodial Services, Facilities and Sustainability on your campus can help identify existing campus-wide green cleaning purchasing policies and opportunities for improving the laundry products and appliances at your sports facilities. Sustainability staff (and/or faculty in related fields) may also be able to help identify environmentally preferable cleaning products that align with the recommendations below.
Find out about available environmentally preferable alternatives, and consider including guidelines to encourage the purchase of environmentally preferable products in contracts and requests for proposal. When purchasing laundry appliances like washers and dryers, look for Energy Star rated products.
Recommended detergent product specifications:
- Low phosphate content (1% or less)
- Low toxicity to people and aquatic organisms
- Biodegrades into low-toxicity compounds
- Contains little or no chlorine bleach
SAMPLE LETTER TO CURRENT SUPPLIERS
[Our department/institution] has initiated an effort to improve our environmental performance in all aspects of our operations. We would like to meet with you to discuss these objectives in more detail. We would also like to discuss ways to cost-effectively switch to less toxic and harmful laundry care products as soon as possible.
We are concerned about products used in the laundry room that contain compounds that are harmful to both public health and the environment. These include detergents containing phosphorous and types of bleach that also produce harmful byproducts.
We would like to reduce as much as possible the harmful effects associated with our operations, and we would like to speak with you about less toxic alternatives to the products that we are currently using in our laundry.
Please call me at your earliest convenience so that we can organize a meeting to pursue this discussion.
*HELPS EARN AASHE STARS POINTS*
Purchasing environmentally intelligent cleaning products for your sports facilities can help your institution earn points within the “Purchasing” subcategory of AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). It can directly contribute to earning 1 point for the credit “OP 13: Cleaning Products Purchasing.” Work with sustainability and facilities staff on your campus to support any institutional efforts to attain or improve your institution’s STARS rating. Use the STARS 2.0 Technical Manual to learn more.
Detergents and other laundry care products often contain toxic or otherwise harmful compounds that can find their way into the natural environment, causing damage to aquatic ecosystems. Many detergents, for example, contain a large amount of phosphate, which can cause oxygen depletion in aquatic systems. Oxygen depletion causes excessive algae growth, loss of habitat, and when oxygen levels are too low fish and other animals cannot survive.
By reducing the concentrations of phosphates and other harmful compounds in your laundry care products, your sports departments and institution can help reduce these impacts.
AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)
AASHE STARS 2.0 Technical Manual
Green Seal Environmental Standards
EPA – Key Characteristics of Laundry Detergent Ingredients
EPA – Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
NRDC Smarter Living: Label Lookup
Energy STAR’s Clothes Washers