A much better way to do laundry

Published Tuesday, June 25, 2013 in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal and the Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

I’m a big fan of products that are kind to our environment.  I’m also a big fan of homegrown innovation; I love seeing New Brunswick-based businesses thrive.  So imagine what a pleasant surprise it was to discover a made-in-New Brunswick product that has the potential to greatly reduce the environmental impacts of an everyday task: doing the laundry.  At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, here’s the great story on Dizolve.

First, the problem

Doing laundry may be an inconvenience for us, but it’s even more inconvenient for our environment.  

Canadians wash nearly four billion loads of laundry per year.  That represents an awful lot of water.  In spite of the growing popularity of efficient front loading washers, about two-thirds of Canadian washers are still top-loading water hogs.  

Then there is the soap.  Canadians buy nearly $900 million worth of it each year.  But here’s a huge and sly issue: the measuring cups and scoops supplied with soap are typically oversized and often poorly or faintly labelled.  That inevitably leads to overdosing, or using far too much soap.  A 2010 Treehugger article suggests that the average load of laundry is overdosed with 33% more soap than is necessary.  

Finally, there’s the packaging.  It’s estimated that Canadians drain 134 million plastic jugs of liquid laundry soap every year.  True, they are recyclable, but only about a third are actually recycled; the other two-thirds – over 90 million a year – end up in landfills. 

Too much water.  Too much soap.  Too much packaging.

A homegrown solution

Dizolve, invented and manufactured in Moncton, is an environmentally friendly, price-competitive laundry soap that has the potential to transform the market.  Dizolve is not a liquid or powder; it comes in tiny, pre-measured paper-like strips that you simply toss into the washer with your laundry.  The strips are made of highly concentrated eco-friendly detergents, and they dissolve completely as your clothes get washed.

Dizolve’s advantages are many.  First and most importantly, it actually works, even in cold water.  ‘Green’ cleaners are often criticized for not being effective enough, but over 90% of participants in a 2012 study rated Dizolve’s cleaning power as equal to or better than their usual brand.

Secondly, it virtually eliminates the problem of overdosing.  A standard load of laundry requires just one strip of Dizolve.  Half a strip is enough for small loads; an extra strip can be added to heavily soiled loads.

Thirdly, Dizolve is lightly packaged.  A box of 72 strips (enough for 72 loads) is about the size and weight of a large chocolate bar, and the cardboard box is fully recyclable.  Contrast that to the footprint of those millions of robust plastic jugs.

Fourthly, Dizolve has a much-reduced transportation footprint because it is so lightweight.  One strip is 1/20th the weight of a comparable amount of liquid soap, so it’s easy to ship a lot of it a long way for less.  

Dizolve is hypoallergenic, phosphate-free and biodegradable.  It doesn’t yet have a third-party certification like EcoLogo – that’s reportedly in the plans – but it does have a partnership with the Sierra Club of Canada, an organization that is generally very picky about its associates.

Dizolve is sold in over 15 countries, from Japan to the UK to the Middle East.  In Atlantic Canada, it’s available at Sobey’s and Co-op or directly at www.mydizolve.com/shop.  It’s also distributed through school fundraising campaigns.  (The original Dizolve – sold in 32-load packages – being replaced by a new version that is even more concentrated; one box of 72 strips will do 72 loads.)

Its manufacturer, the Dizolve Group, was named NB’s Emerging Exporter of the Year last month.  

Goodbye, liquid soap

Through innovation, creative thinking and ingenuity, Dizolve has the potential to greatly reduce the environmental impacts of doing laundry.  That’s a good thing for all of us, and that’s why it’s the new standard in our home.

(Disclosure: I have no stake, financial or otherwise, in Dizolve, but I was sent a free sample after interviewing a company official for this column.)