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18 May 2012 | PR 12/92

Airing dirty laundry to boost green design



A Loughborough University researcher is hoping his study into the laundry habits of people from different cultures will help designers create more eco-friendly washing machines.

Laundry is one of the most widespread household chores in the world and plays a major part in the consumption of water and energy within the home, yet the resource implications are often not considered by the user.

Jak Spencer, a PhD student in the University’s Design School, will be travelling to India and Brazil to observe how people in these countries carry out this domestic task, as well as collecting data from people living in the UK.  He will observe how often clothes are washed, the temperature they are washed at and the length of time they are washed for.

“Previous research has found that despite the similarity of products people from different cultures use products and perform everyday household activities in very different ways,” Jak explains.

“For example, in Brazil it's very rare that people would use hot water to wash their clothes in a washing machine, despite having the same settings as washing machines over here.  This clearly has an impact on the environment, with less energy being used to heat water.”

By studying how people from different cultures approach the task of laundry Jak is hoping to discover what influences their attitudes, behaviours and actions.  This information could then be used to help guide the design of more sustainable washing machines, as well as to encourage people from all cultures to adopt more environmentally friendly laundry practices.

Jak’s work is being funded by the University’s Sustainable Design Research Group, the Design Research Society and Santander.

Dr Vicky Lofthouse, a senior lecturer at the University's design school and leader of the research group, said: “We're delighted to be supporting Jak's work.  His study is taking place within a larger framework of research looking at design for behavioural change in a range of different countries.”

Anyone interested in taking part in Jak’s study should call 07958594260.


For all media enquiries contact:

Judy Wing
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697
E: J.L.Wing@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

1. For further information about the Sustainable Design Research Group visit: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/lds/research/groups/sustainable-design/

2. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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