Your laundry activities produce wastewater. The quality and quantity of this wastewater are important considerations when taking a WashWise approach to laundry.
All your household wastewater ends up in the environment. It will undergo some level of treatment and then could be discharged to the ocean or an inland water system, or be recycled for domestic, industrial or agricultural use. Alternatively, if you have a septic system it will be discharged through underground pipes to your land. If you decide to reuse your greywater, with or without further treatment, it will also be discharged onto your land.
Laundry activities contribute soils, microorganisms and laundry detergent ingredients to wastewater. The composition of wastewater can influence the ease with which it can be treated. For example, as the concentration of total dissolved solids (TDS) increases, large scale wastewater recycling requires additional expensive treatment if the water is to be used for a broad range of beneficial purposes. A high concentration of TDS could also mean that long-term recycling of greywater in the garden can have a detrimental impact on some plants and your soil.
You have control over your choice of laundry detergent. Assuming that the detergent meets the number one requirement of being an effective cleaning product, an environmentally responsible choice should also be informed by the potential impact of laundry detergent ingredients in your household’s wastewater. Important considerations for residents in one part of Australia may be different to those for residents in another part of the country.