From: Kristina Anderson, Sierra Club Green Home, More from this Affiliate
Published August 28, 2012 08:21 AM

To Buy Green Or To Be Green?

Whether to buy green or to act green is a common conundrum for the environmentally-friendly consumer. Should you buy a newer, more efficient appliance? Or would it be better to buy a used one? Or does it make the most sense to keep what you have? Which is more environmentally responsible?


To be perfectly honest, this is complicated. What is needed to answer this question is the lifecycle analysis paradigm, which looks at the environmental impact involved in the creation, transportation, use, and disposal of a given product during its existence. There is more lifecycle impact data out there for some products than for others, but we can always learn enough to make an informed choice. Here Sierra Club Green Home takes a look at the pros and cons of replacing five common household appliances: washing machines, air conditioning, showers, light bulbs, and toliets.

Washing Machines

The most efficient way to wash laundry is to do it by hand or have it washed for you at a laundromat. However, many people have neither the time nor the resources for these two options. I admit that I could not imagine life without a washing machine!

Washing machines consume the most energy during use, as opposed to production. Buying a newer, more efficient machine is a great option environmentally-speaking. If you buy a new washing machine, make sure it has the Energy Star label and spring for a front-loading model if you can. Front-loading models use less water and overall power due to their orientation. Be sure to recycle or sell the old one to avoid having it contribute to our ever-growing landfills.

Efficiency Tips:

- Wash full loads, but do not overfill the machine. Full loads allow the machine to run at its top peak.

- The hotter the water, the more energy that needs to be put towards heating the water. Even reducing the temperature of the wash by a few degrees makes a difference.

- Skip washing your clothes in hot water altogether and use cold water instead. You can find special detergents designed to work with cold cycles.

- Add an extra spin cycle. This will ring more water out of the clothes, making for less time that your clothes need to spend in the dryer.

- Make sure your screens are clean. Your washing machine has two hoses and there is a screen in each, and keeping them clean will allow the machine to run faster cycles.

Article continues at ENN affiliate, Sierra Club Green Home

Laundromat image via Shutterstock

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