It’s so nice to measure out your powdered laundry detergent precisely with that little plastic scoop that the manufacturer provides in every box. Maybe one scoop for colors, two for whites, half for woolens, etc.
But have you ever thought, as you threw out the little plastic scoop, that every single box or bag of detergent currently comes shipped with that miniature instrument? So about how many little plastic scoops do you discard in a lifetime, considering the average person does 300 laundry loads per year? Then multiply it by the number of people who do their wash using machines and powdered detergents. Turns out to be quite a bit of plastic….
You may not have to be so concerned about the spoons when you find out that a Chinese team has developed a concept for product packaging that comes with a tear-off scoop built right into the packaging.
“The top of each package is perforated to tear into a handle, with one corner of the bag—which you would tear off for pouring anyway—open to form a ladle-like scoop calibrated to be the right size for the detergent you are scooping. It’s a simple concept with a lot of advantages.”
Indeed, yes. It’s a one-piece system from manufacture through disposal. Because the spoon is mostly paper, it feels like trash and seems more amenable to the wastebasket than a cute little colored plastic scoop.
No major manufacturer has moved to pick up this ecological improvement for laundry, but just wait. It could be coming, especially as more people become aware of the link between plastic and petrochemicals, which scientists have linked to anthropogenic climate change.
Now: think about plastic vs. paper in the detergent production and use cycle. There’s a lot more plastic in a plastic detergent bottle. There’s a lot more water in liquid detergent. The sodium sulfate in powdered detergents reportedly wreaks havoc on septic systems—but public sewers serve the vast majority of American homes. The most popular US laundry detergent (Tide) comes in both powder and liquid. Then there’s cold water versus hot water.
Pardon me if I ask somebody else to do the math….