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The problem with Tide Pods
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The problem with Tide Pods

The problem with Tide Pods

What do microwave dinners, instant coffee, and Tide Pods have in common? 

(Don’t worry, this isn’t the setup for a bad joke.)

If it was 2018, you might say they’re all things people consume. But the days of teens chomping down on Tide Pods are (thankfully) gone, so let’s leave the Tide Pod challenge in the past where it belongs. 

Man jumping over bed with white comforter

Catch us jumping away from the next dangerous social media challenge

The answer we were actually looking for is that they’re all things meant to make daily tasks easier. Sure, you could measure out and pour detergent when you do your laundry, but why not just toss a convenient Tide Pod in to save a second or two?

Unfortunately, that small convenience comes at a hefty price. And no, not just to your wallet. There’s a major problem with Tide Pods — they’re hurting the environment. 

Let’s get into it. 

Tide Pods: Biodegradable or not?

The industry behind Tide Pods and other detergent pods claims that the film that encases the detergent is fully biodegradable, but is this really the case?

New research out of Arizona State University suggests that the pods contribute to plastic pollution even when laundry-doers like you use them correctly. Specifically, they break down into microplastics and leak untreated PVA — a.k.a. polyvinyl alcohol, a synthetic plastic polymer — into water systems and groundwater. 

In light of this information, advocates recently petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action against detergent pods that use films made of PVA. They argue these pods need more federal scrutiny, and we tend to agree. 

Woman wrapped in lilac sheet

Mmmm... I love the smell of plastic in my freshly-washed sheet — said no one ever. 

Don’t know about you, but plastic ending up in our water sounds less than ideal to us. Ice, lemon slices, those cute little drink umbrellas, now those are things everyone enjoys in their water. Plastic? Not so much. 

The marketing that Tide Pods and other detergent pods are eco-friendly may be just that … marketing. 

Eco-friendly Tide Pod Alternatives

If you don’t want the knowledge that you’re polluting the environment to make laundry day even more of a drag, consider using an alternative to Tide Pods. Beware of any laundry detergents that claim to be eco-friendly but still use PVA — many laundry strips contain PVA, too. 

Laundry bars are one sustainable Tide Pod alternative. They last longer than liquid laundry detergents and you can find ones with 100% truly biodegradable ingredients. However, they can only be used to hand wash your clothes. So if you’re not ready to party like it’s 1840 and do laundry with a washboard, this isn’t the laundry detergent for you.

For anyone who likes to toss their laundry in the washer and forget about it, laundry powder/soda may be the better eco-friendly Tide Pod alternative. Companies like Nellie's make their laundry powder with simple ingredients that won’t hurt your clothes or the planet. No PVA here!

Nellie’s Laundry Soda is made of four ingredients and dissolves completely in hot or cold water, unlike our old frenemies the Tide Pods. Why pay for water and microplastics when you can get all the concentrated cleaning power you need in a smaller package with laundry powder?

Try one of these sustainable Tide Pod alternatives to head into your next laundry day with confidence that you’re doing right by the planet. Then kick back and enjoy a mini umbrella water. You deserve it! 

Two women sitting on a bed with a dog, clinking wine glasses

Or a nice glass of wine, we won't tell anyone!

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