Who doesn’t believe that hot water can remove stains and grime better than cold? But Todd Cline, P&G Senior Director and Head of Sustainability is focused on getting people to believe the opposite: that a cold water wash will do that job as well — if not better — than one that’s warmer.

His end goal is to get 75% of North America running their machines on cold water. That switch would avoid adding 27+ tons of CO2 into the atmosphere — or the emissions from powering both New York and San Francisco in one year.

Watch the video or read more in our transcript below.


By 2030, we want to have 75% of loads in North America on cold, not 75% of Tide loads even. But 75% of the market loads.

So the reason why cold water was important to me and our entire team is we’re really a science-based organization. We see lifecycle assessment as by far the best science when it comes to sustainability because it looks at the total impact of a product from the starting point, making the raw materials, to the end of life for the product, which for us is what goes down the drain as well as what happens with the packaging. If you look across the lifecycle of doing a load of laundry, almost 70% of the carbon footprint happens in the consumer use phase of doing that load of laundry. If a consumer moves from hot to cold, it’s a 90% reduction in the emissions. If they move from warm to cold, it’s a 70% reduction in the emissions. As we looked at that, we wanted to have the biggest impact, we could as Tide. If we could get 75% of the loads in North America to cold, we saw that we could avoid 27 plus million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is just a massive impact. That’s the equivalent emissions of powering both New York and San Francisco for an entire year, or 10 times the annual operating emissions of Procter and Gamble.

The two things we needed to do was, number one, reassure them that with Tide, you could still get that deep down clean on cold. Then second, we tried a lot of different messaging on how you incent people to make that change at this point, talking about the switch to cold and reducing your carbon footprint. It’s something that’s interesting to people, but it doesn’t necessarily drive enough action. What we found is when we could communicate the switch to cold and saving up to $150 per year, that’s where we could really started having a big impact. We were able to quickly go from high 40s percent of loads on cold up to 56% of loads on cold in the first year of activation.

We’ve had some great partnerships like the NFL. We did a Wash on Cold camping with them. Tide on cold was strong enough for cleaning NFL uniforms. Surely strong enough to do your sheets and towels. But I wish for more partnerships like that, because that one’s been really impactful. Hanes is labeling their products for Washing on Cold and even Wash on Cold with Tide. I love partnerships like that, because I think we won’t get there by ourselves, it’s going to take great partnerships. Taking on something this big, it takes multiple stakeholders to get there. I’ve always been somewhat into sustainability. I’m into the outdoors. To me sustainability for a long time is all about trash and waste and making sure there’s not litter in the outdoors. But when I was living in Europe, I really got into skiing while I was there. That’s where I started to learn about climate change. I read an article about just the impact that climate change could have from a skiing standpoint. Lower resorts won’t get any snow, higher resorts, there could be there’s lots of snow but the storms are so bad, it won’t be enjoyable. That’s really what started the engagement for me on moving from sustainability to it’s about waste to it’s much broader than that, and thinking climate.

I love that I get to work around a really passionate organization in fabric care. The people here are just amazing. We don’t have a small niche group working on doing sustainability projects. It is truly embedded in the whole organization, and working here you feel the energy and weight of the whole organization moving things forward. So I love that. I also just love the scale of our fabric care organization. When we do things like moving people to cold, the massive impact and scale as we do something like increased recycled content or in a package or take a package that wasn’t recyclable, to recyclable, just because it’s such a large business it really has massive impact.