Effects of socio-demographic factors on laundry behaviours in Europe and their implications on sustainability

Research paper by Farnaz Alborzi, Angelika Schmitz, Rainer Stamminger

Indexed on: 03 Nov '17Published on: 26 Jul '17Published in: International Journal of Consumer Studies


The continuing rise of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is leading to catastrophic damage in many parts of the world over the coming decades unless GHG emissions can be controlled quickly. The objective of reducing GHG emissions can only be accomplished when all the sectors contributing to GHG emission act responsibly. The contribution of the household to GHG emission was 19.6% in the European Union (EU) in 2013. The energy consumption for laundry washing in the EU, estimated at 24.2 TWh/year, is a substantial share of household energy use. As the use phase of the washing machine is the dominant stage where the environmental impact occurs, this paper addresses some of the EU consumers’ washing and drying behaviour in the laundry process. Information on consumers’ behaviour regarding the laundry process was collected by a semi-representative survey in eleven EU countries in 2015, including more than 5,000 participants. The main outcome of the study is that consumers’ behaviour regarding the laundry process differs substantially between the EU countries. Moreover, socio-demographic characteristics of households affect the overall sustainability profile of the laundry process.