#SaturdaySwitch part 3 – the magical bottomless laundry basket

There is a German fairy tale I remember reading at school about a family with a magic porridge pot which produces endless porridge. One day, the mother (of course…) forgets to tell it to stop cooking, and it overflows endlessly until the whole town is full of porridge. I can’t remember what happens at the end but the it’s probably a happy ending involving an elf or fairy of some sort. And hopefully someone gives the mother some wine and helps her clean the house up.

So I think in most households with small people, the laundry basket feels a bit like this – if you blink, it’s overflowing again and you lose any semblance of control. I can’t imagine how people cope once multiple school uniforms, football kits and all that are in the mix. Although by then the food-related mess may have reduced a bit, I hope…?

We’ve been using these laundry tablets from Aldi for absolutely ages, because they’re cheap, basically, and they get the job done. The blurb says to use 2 tablets per wash, which I actually didn’t realise and have always used only one, so the cost per wash is 4.9p.

BUT the tablets come wrapped in these little bastards:

Possibly the most annoying bits of plastic known to man, and very hard to clean and dry for the ecobrick. So I have just switched to a big 2.6kg carton, which eliminates 18 of these plastic sachets. Or reduces the demand for them, at least, by me not buying them. I think works out cheaper if you don’t use the advised dosage of 85ml or 65g (which based on previous experience with tablets is more than you need). So by using 50ml or 42g (I totally don’t understand this conversion rate – I thought it was like for like with liquid and solids but apparently not!), I make it 4.8p per wash. So not dramatically cheaper, but a lot less annoying plastic rubbish.

I bought a four pack of these snazzy measuring scoops in different sizes too (NB I bought these before the beginning of “no buy July” – more on this tomorrow). My husband is using one for his porridge at work, and has stopped using the expensive sachets of oats with the little measuring line for milk. I will work out the plastic and money saving on this in my copious spare time – but the magnificent Jack Monroe has done her own version here at 3p per portion, vs. Asda’s own brand at 7.9p per portion.

So the washing powder seemed like a nice straightforward Saturday Switch. But then I read something which suggested that the packaging of laundry boxes isn’t recylable, as it’s coated in plastic to protect the powder from moisture and humidity. So is that true, or is this true?

I am going to tweet Aldi to see if they can offer some reassurance on this… will keep you posted.

Then there are the many various “eco” brands of laundry out there on the market, some of which come in plastic packaging. What constitutes cruelty-free, or even vegan? What causes the least pollution? Is there any way to make a further switch that’s still cost-effective, as well as also being effective on stubborn pesto stains?

I feel like each question I ask generates about another 100 questions and this is going to be a LONG journey. I know you’re all rooting for me – say hi in the comments or on Twitter, especially if I don’t know you in real life! Who are my mystery readers in Finland, Sweden, South Korea, Kenya and Qatar? I would love to know!

P.S. Sorry for the hiatus in posting this week, been on holiday to Center Parcs. Watch this space this week for Center Parcs’ plastic sins, my everyday activism ideas, “No Buy July” and maybe some other things, depending on the length of a certain small person’s naps…

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3 Comments

    1. Ah yeah I’ve been looking at this – I wasn’t convinced about the plastic packaging though, although they say it is recyclable but I’m not sure how as I don’t think it would be accepted kerb-side.

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