The Problem of The Smallest Pile

The Problem of The Smallest Pile

Wondering why I would possibly want to publish pictures of my dirty laundry? I do so because the picture reveals a problem that I believe many of us regularly deal with. I call it the problem of the smallest pile.

The smallest pile is (obviously) the pile of laundry which (for good reasons) just remains smaller than the rest. In my situation, it is the pile of colored clothes. I simply have more white and black clothes than blue or red.

Why is this a problem? Because washing half empty machines contributes to a problem that many are unaware of: While 62% of clothes’ total CO2 emission originate from the production, the remainder – that is 38% – originates from how consumers wash, dry and iron our clothes.

This means that how we treat our clothes is important! Luckily, there are easy ways out of this problem, and as such it takes only a few simple steps to become a little more sustainable.

As previously emphasized, an easy first step is to wash on colder temperatures and tumble dry less (see here for more on this). An equally good way of reducing the environmental impact of our clothes consumption is to always make sure to fill the machine before washing. And while this introduces the problem of the smallest pile, most often it is possible to make that tiny pile just a little bigger. All we need to do is wait a little longer, allowing the pile to grow just slightly bigger, or alternatively, we can hurry up the process by merging the green and the blue piles into one big wash.

I know this all sounds pretty trivial, but if we all get better at washing our clothes more sustainably, we can decrease the carbon emission of our clothes considerably (and save some money on our electricity and water bills).

On that note, have a lovely weekend!

Katrine Damgaard

Katrine Damgaard, 25, has a master degree in Political Science and Political Economy from London School of Economics. Katrine started the blog in 2014 after having four years of work experience at ELLE Denmark. Katrine is now working as a consultant at A.T. Kearney.

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