Save money and care for the planet
Nowadays we have many options for natural products on the market, including some cosmetics, but consuming sustainably products is often associated with spending more money. For example, ecological and local food is often more expensive than fast food made with ingredients that have been transported across the planet to reach our homes, and an electric car is more expensive than one that runs with petrol. It seems that when products are better for the world, they are worse for our pockets.
But, when we talk about how we wash clothes, we can be more sustainable and save money at the same time. First of all, perhaps we need to take a step back and understand the impact that laundry has on our economy and the planet.
The consequences of doing laundry
The washing machine consumes more than half of the total electricity of a home. But just by lowering the temperature of the water during our laundry, we can reduce energy bills by 85%. The problem is that most of our cleaning products can remove certain stains only with hot water.
The temperature of the water not only affects the energy we spend, but it also impacts the clothes. Hot water, together with the detergents we use, cause our clothes to release fibres and, with each wash, we shorten the life of our clothes. In addition, these filaments shed by the fabrics end up in the water. Unfortunately, because most of our clothes are made from non-biodegradable materials, synthetic microfibres pollute the environment. In fact, more than a third of the microplastic in the ocean comes from textiles such as puffer jackets, sportswear and shirts made from non-biodegradable synthetic materials.
The key to solving much of this waste of energy, money, and clothes lies in finding better laundry products. If we develop more efficient detergents, we’ll be able to wash with cold water, reducing the amount of energy used and the electricity bill, while reducing our ecological footprint. And with better soaps, we’ll be able to reduce the release of fibres, making our clothes last longer and pollute less.
The power of biochemistry to make better laundry products
With the chemical transformations that enzymes can carry out, we can upgrade laundry products, in order to remove stains and dirt more efficiently. Enzymes work like selective scissors at the molecular level, breaking down the proteins, lipids or carbohydrate molecules present in stains.
Some specific enzymes used in detergents are proteases, which help degrade stains made up mainly of protein, such as blood or egg; amylases which remove starch-based dirt of pasta or potatoes; lipases, which clean fat-based stains such as butter or oil, and many others. In fact, there is a type of enzyme capable of eliminating each type of stain.
A great team: enzymes and ecology
In addition to making highly effective detergents, enzymes have the potential to create a greener laundry industry. And this is precisely what we are working on in RadicalZ: we find and modify the necessary enzymes to make products more ecological.
Thanks to the enzymes, we’ll be able to reduce the number of fibres that are released during washing. With this, we’ll not only make our clothes last longer, but we’ll also reduce their environmental impact.
Furthermore, in order to minimise pollution, we investigate how to make laundry products more eco-friendly. For this, we make bio-based thickeners for liquid detergents, something that can have a big impact on this industry that currently uses synthetic alcohols (petrochemicals) as thickeners. In addition, these polluting synthetic alcohols are produced with large amounts of energy.
A new era of laundry products
Enzymes have the potential to completely change the way we wash our clothes. They will allow us to remove stains more efficiently with cold water, use less energy, reduce our electricity bill, hold on to our clothes for longer and pollute much less thanks to bio-based thickeners and reduced release of synthetic fibres.
We’ll no longer have an excuse not to minimise our ecological footprint because we’ll be able to wash our clothes with sustainable products that will also help us save money. Thanks to projects like RadicalZ and the impact it will have on the laundry industry, we’ll be able to avoid sky-high electricity bills and cut down pollution.