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After writing about Laundry Environment Savers last year, I have been meaning to follow up with some information on which laundry detergent ingredients are best avoided to make sure that the water going from your washing machine into the garden is safe and not hurting your plants or anything else.

1) Phosphorus – avoid products containing phosphorus as this can harm sensitive native plants.

  • Try to buy products labelled NP (No Phosphorus).

2) Sodium – otherwise known as salt this can build up in the soil and damage your garden.

  • Try to buy products labelled “No Sodium”.

3) Sodium Lauryl (or Laureth) Sulphate – a strong and harsh detergent, repeated use can accumulate SLS in the body.

  • Not sure how regularly this is found in laundry detergents, but best avoided as build up in your body or the environment is not a good thing!

Home Energy Action Kit

I discovered at our local library something called a Home Energy Action Kit. The kit is available on loan for a week and contains all manner of interesting things including a:

  • Power Mate for measuring the energy consumption of your appliances
  • Infrared Thermometer for measuring fridge, freezer and hot water temperatures
  • Stopwatch for timing shower and tap flow rates

Most fascinating was the Power Mate which I had tried to use some years previous without any instruction manual. This time around there were clear instructions on how to use it, plus a worksheet to complete, clearly outlining what I was measuring.

After measuring all our applicances in standby and operational mode, I realised we have some appliances plugged in all the time, but only use them for around 30 mins a week! So most of the time they are consuming electricity, but for no purpose. The solution: unplug at the wall and plug back in when we need to use them.

Possibly the biggest downside for me in using the kit, was that there wasn’t enough to keep my young son interested while I completed the worksheet and survey. However an older child may be able to stay focused for longer (or would be happy to run off and do something else :)). Certainly a kid’s version would be useful, or maybe there is such available for older primary kids through schools already?

Overall this was a useful kit to help understand the energy and water use in our home. I would recommend checking out your local library or local government to see if they have something similar.

Other helpful online Australian resources I have found include:

Green Home Australian Conservation Foundation


Plus there are also home energy/sustainability advice programs where people come to your home and give feedback on what improvements you could be making, plus sometimes provide rebates ($$) and other incentives to make these changes.

These include:


Climate Smart (Qld)