Review of Earth Breeze Laundry Sheets

A hard look at Earth Breeze laundry sheets

One of the biproducts of sharing and discussing environmental topics is that, inevitably, advertising catches up with me. Earth Breeze has been heavily promoted to me on social media, and since they had quite a few selling points for environmentally conscious people. Here’s a brief breakdown on what sold me on this product:

  • Comes in paper packaging
  • Donates laundry sheets to those in need
  • Carbon neutral
  • Reduces environmental impact through lighter shipping weights

They’re also relatively transparent on their page, with a list of ingredients displayed as well as an explanation as to what each one is. If you care about the environment deeply, those ingredients matter to you a lot.

One of the ingredients that raised my eyebrow was Polyvinyl Alcohol. Most green laundry sheets go out of their way to describe it in sciency terms that cover up what it is. You’ll see things like, “a harmless polymer/monomer/whatever.

It’s plastic. It’s a particular kind of plastic that readily and completely dissolves in water. Every single laundry pod or sheet out there uses this plastic to help make it into a sheet or pod. There is not one that is guilt free in this regard.

Is Earth Breeze environmentally friendly?

I spoke with Earth Breeze directly about my concerns and was pleased by their response. They were very open about discussing this ingredient, and also talking about the direction of the company as a whole, and the research currently available on Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA.)

Right now there’s some mixed research available on PVA and whether it’s an environmental concern at all. One can view the dissolving properties of PVA as completely harmless, or a disastrous release of microplastics.

In specific situations, PVA is consumed by bacteria and completely biodegrades. Sorting out whether PVA in laundry sheets like Earth Breeze biodegrades is a bit difficult because there are different grades of PVA. The grade of PVA used in laundry sheets is biodegradable.

A separate study in Arizona however, notes that very specific conditions are needed to biodegrade PVA. These conditions aren’t typically met in common wastewater treatment facilities. Much of that PVA is being released into the environment.

With that in mind, the next question remains is it harmful to the environment, and if so is Earth Breeze a bad choice compared to jugs with much more plastic and much more fossil fuel use?

Right now, more research needs to be done on PVA as a pollutant. At this point we know very little about PVA when it is released into the environment, especially in situations where bacteria levels are low and waters are cooler.

We know that PVA can sequester heavy metals, leach into groundwater, and alter gas exchanges. What we don’t know is how much PVA isn’t biodegrading, and how harmful it is compared to traditional sources.

A look at traditional laundry soap

Traditional laundry soap comes in a huge plastic container, which is seldom recycled. Plastics can never be closed loop recycled, so no matter what the jug will end up in landfill eventually. When it gets there it will eventually break down into microplastics, and there will be a lot more of it then what is in those laundry sheets.

Those giant jugs can also soak up heavy metals, alter gas exchanges, and cause ecological mayhem. The laundry soap itself is usually made out of petroleum products (re: fossil fuels) and on top of this, requires huge amounts of fossil fuels to ship…water.

While laundry sheets may have their environmental concerns, they don’t come close to the environmental concerns of liquid laundry soap. In fact, normal laundry detergents are so bad for the environment in so many different ways it’s shocking. Phosphates in detergents can leady to algal blooms, poisons wildlife, and has a ton more plastic involved.

What Earth Breeze is doing offset microplastics

Right now, there are no good alternatives to PVA. Earth Breeze is constantly researching new alternatives, but until they become available they make sure their company makes the world a better place through different avenues.

As of right now, Earth Breeze removes more plastic from the environment than they put in, supports beach clean efforts, plants trees to offset any carbon their company creates, and of course prevents tons of plastic through their plastic free packaging.

From what we can tell, Earth Breeze genuinely cares about the environment, and is making an effort to create a product that is truly beneficial to the environment.

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