Sustainability Beyond Single Use Plastic

I know many of us having been searching for ways to reduce our use of plastics, from getting used to gathering our tote bags on the way in to the grocery store to eschewing the use of plastic water bottles to finding ways to store our leftovers that don’t involve plastic bags or wrap. We know we won’t be able to recycle our way out of the plastic crisis; we need to reduce our use of these items.

My choice this month has been to try laundry detergent in pods rather than those big plastic jugs. An astounding 1 billion plastic laundry jugs are discarded each year in the US alone. As I began my research into the possibilities I found there are quite a few – refillables, sheets, and pods. I was hesitant of pods initially since I didn’t know what they were made of and was concerned with the potential impact to my septic system. As it turns out, the pods are made of a compound called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) that is completely soluble in water. According to the film manufacturer, the film will dissolve in cold water in 3 minutes, which would be great and prevent from clogging up your washer drum. Being a skeptic, I didn’t take this at face value! My experiment showed that the pods do dissolve in cold water, but more like 20 minutes than 3. Of course this was without any agitation as would be found in your machine so I was fairly confident that they would dissolve satisfactorily.

Of the many possible brands, I chose Dropps because a sensitive skin formula, free of fragrances and dyes was available. Additionally, its packaging is a reusable or compostable or recyclable cardboard box. So many of these products come in a plastic bag that sort of defeats the purpose! Even better, the detergent itself is plant-based, cruelty free and EPA safer choice approved!

Of course the most important thing is: how well does it clean your clothes? Well, I had a very difficult stain to test this out! A pair of white (!) sweat pants that had some ground-in mud that had been there for over a year… I know, who doesn’t wash their sweats for a year?? These were part of a costume for our Haunted Trails event and unfortunately had been put away without being checked for dirt and stains. So, in they went into a regular load of light colors, cold water, no pre-treatment and no bleach.

Doesn’t get much tougher than that! As expected the outcome wasn’t perfect, pretty good, but needing a second go (which hasn’t happened yet).

These photos were taken under the same lighting conditions and are un-retouched. The rest of the load was clean and fresh-smelling without the overwhelming perfume-y scent that so often permeates our clothes. So my overall verdict is that I will continue to use these under my normal washing conditions and my usual pretreatment regimen when needed. I’m happy to no longer be contributing to the 1 Billion Bottle problem!

Here are some links to help you on your own journey, and of course you can always check Amazon if that’s your preference.



Dropps (the one used above!)

Looking for other ways to reduce your plastic consumption? Check out our #NoPlasticNancy blog posts!

Written by Guest Blogger, Director of Education, and Advocacy Committee member – Diane Smith


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