By James Romberger / 28th May 2020
The Covid-19 crisis presents a multitude of difficulties for urban dwellers, not least of which is keeping clean–and part of that ever-constant effort is doing the laundry. Some of us have laundry rooms in our buildings, others would normally use a laundromat. But most city laundromats are closed, so many of us must do our laundry at home in the sink or bathtub. At any rate, certain rules specific to the pandemic apply. We should have sets of clothes that we only wear indoors, and separate sets of clothes and shoes to wear when we go out, that should always be removed when we return from whatever errand we were on—and all of these garments need to be stored, and washed, separately. Adhering to social distancing in laundry rooms and on washing machines is a must, and there and even at home alone, we should wear gloves and masks in the process of doing these tasks and of course, wash our hands afterwards, all the while avoiding touching our face. We should avoid shaking clothes out while sorting and folding so as not to throw virus into the air; and we must make sure that all items are completely dry before folding and storing, because the virus thrives in moisture. Everything should be washed at the hottest possible temperature, but this can be dependent on the label-dictated washing directions for particular garments. However, if something must be washed cold, then it should also be dried completely and folded and bagged separately, and then left isolated to sit for several days, in order to make sure that the virus has not endured.
Now, even in this time of crisis, many of us would still like to continue to make efforts to be ecologically conscious; to buy the best products that we can find that are natural, organic, hypoallergenic and otherwise as non-toxic as possible–while also being made by companies that do not exploit their workers or the environment in the process of doing business. One company that fills the sustainable labor- and eco-friendly market is Seventh Generation, a manufacturer of household products based in Burlington, Vermont. On their website, the company positions themselves as a frontline defense against COVID-19: “Seventh Generation Disinfecting Cleaners, Wipes and Sprays with CleanWell® INSIDE can be used against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, on hard, nonporous surfaces.” CEO Joey Bergstein told Entrepreneur that since the advent of COVID-19, “we’re seeing unprecedented demand …for our cleaning and hygiene products, disinfecting spray and disinfecting wipes.” Seventh Generation products get high ratings from venerable domestic mainstay Good Housekeeping and consumer site Love to Know praises their paper towels, Natural All-Purpose Cleaner and Organic Foaming Natural Dish Soap. In their deliberate effort to mainstream natural, organic solutions for household cleaning, they’ve long associated with Whole Foods and Walmart, companies that progressives might not support because of their anti-labor practices—but their products are increasingly carried in other nationwide grocery and pharmacy chains such as Target, ALDI, CVS and Rite Aid.
As regards doing the laundry, Seventh Generation offers a range of ecologically-sound detergents in powder and liquid forms. I was struck recently by the containers for Seventh Generations’ EasyDose Ultra Concentrated Laundry Detergent, and Free and Clear Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin; the bottles are fabricated from a sort of impacted paper. SG president John Replogle told Conscious Company magazine that his company focusses on “clear sustainability metrics about the elimination of waste, about the removal of plastics.” The paper detergent bottles aren’t entirely free of plastic, though. The caps are still molded from plastic, and there are thin plastic liners hidden within the paper bottles. The company’s website describes the container: the bottle uses “66% less plastic than typical 100 oz 2X detergent bottles” and is fabricated from 70% recycled cardboard and 30% recycled newspaper, which is molded into a rigid shape you can grab and pour just like a conventional plastic bottle. Inside this shell is a clever plastic pouch that contains the detergent. When the bottle’s empty, you take off the cap, pop open the shell, and pull out the pouch. Drop all three in your home recycling bin. Or you could compost the shell. Sweet. Simple. Zero mess. Less waste.
Okay, that isn’t quite as progressive as I’d hoped—but still, it makes for a lot less volume of plastic being trashed day in, day out.