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CSA approves funding for pilot program of free, sustainable detergent

On X date, the Carleton Student Association (CSA) Senate approved a pilot program for free and sustainable detergent for all Carleton students. The pilot program seeks to test the effectiveness and student responsiveness to a full-scale program.

The program will use $8,000 from CSA to purchase 20,000 detergent sheets and a dispensary machine from Generation Conscious, a certified minority-owned business in New York. According to their website, Gen Conscious offers detergent sheets that are designed with the goal of “eliminating hygiene insecurity, reducing plastic and water waste, and disengaging from harmful structures of product distribution.” The website goes on to describe their mission as designed to “…create sustained change by radically rejecting the systems and structures perpetuating racial and economic injustice; carbon, plastic, water waste, and pollution—replacing these infrastructures and their consequences with systems and structures that generate true sustainability, equity, and accessibility.”

Eli Watt ’25, the student who proposed the program to CSA, described the program as a test for a larger project that would affect many in the Carleton community.”The full-scale program would include 14 refill stations on campus, with one refill machine in every laundry room,” said Watt in the CSA proposal.

Watt commented that the issue of laundry accessibility is a serious concern on campus. “According to a survey I distributed in the fall, of 170 Carleton student respondents, half have struggled with not having detergent to wash their clothes, two-thirds of respondents have experienced difficulties buying detergent because of the necessity of going off-campus, nearly a third have worried that someone will notice that their clothes are unclean due to a lack of detergent, and nearly three-quarters of respondents worry about the environmental impacts of their laundry habits,” said Watt. “My pilot seeks to address these concerns by partnering with Generation Conscious to provide free, sustainable detergent to all students next fall.”

A program to increase access to laundry isn’t new to Carleton by any stretch. Watt recalls previous programs that CSA has done to alleviate the problems associated with the task. “Ten years ago, Carleton eliminated all washer and dryer fees, allowing students to use laundry machines free of charge,” said Watt to the Carletonian. “In doing this, Carleton believed they would remove the financial barriers between students and hygiene services, guaranteeing student access to laundry. While this was a great first step in achieving these goals, students are still facing hygiene inequity in Carleton’s laundry rooms.”

Though the program is starting next fall as a simple pilot, many people have hopes that this program will continue into a larger scale operation. Hamid commented that one of the reasons they support this program is because of the way it’s being implemented as a pilot first. “The model itself also appealed to me; if nobody ends up using it, then we do not need to commit to further financial ties to the program, so it seemed like a relatively low-cost way to try something potentially beneficial and see if it works,” Hamid said. “Sustainability and climate-oriented goals are also really important, and while again this is a really small program, it is nice to know that this option results in carbon neutrality and greater sustainability even in a small way. CSA lost its profit revenue from laundry machines a while ago, and honestly, I see this program as just an extension of that commitment to reduce unnecessary cleaning expenses for the student body.”

Talia Marash ’25, the current Junior CSA representative, voted in favor of the program. “Accessible laundry, and issues of hygiene as a whole, are representative of social and climate justice issues we face on campus and nationally,” said Marash. “Not everyone has the financial ability or privilege to do multiple loads of laundry, and with past CSA decisions providing free cycles, detergent access is the final barrier to entry.”

Rahim Hamid ’26, a Sophomore representative to CSA, believes that the program is a good start to address an issue on campus. “While I don’t personally believe that it is the most pressing need on campus (not outweighing something like academic load, discussions around course requirements, working hours, career center support, mental health, and better facilitating social life), the program to me seems like something that makes life for some people on campus a little easier,” said Hamid. “It is honestly really difficult to make the trek to Family Fare since I don’t have a car and am both working and double majoring while trying to keep myself relatively sane.”

The program itself requires $8,000 in seed money from CSA to get off the ground, a price that Marash says is worth it. “The price attached to the dispensing machine itself represents a worthwhile long-term investment in sustainability projects on campus and nationally. The benefit of the program, through both the lens of accessibility and sustainability, has a large impact on every student on campus,” Marash said. “The benefit of investing in a long-term project would be increased access for all students and personal funds being reoriented to other necessary items. This benefit far outweighs any cost the school incurs and is a worthwhile use of CSA’s discretionary budget.” 

Not all students, however, are convinced that the program will be effective.  “I don’t really understand how it can be $8000 or how people like myself or people that I know are going to use it if the pilot program is in Sayles,” said Tabitha Jones ’26. “Nobody is going to trek from Goodhue to Sayles to get a single laundry sheet.” 

Though the program itself just targets laundry, many CSA representatives are excited that the program’s model will catch on and create an add-on effect. “If it does result in greater levels of cleanliness, I imagine knock-on effects to things like preventing the spread of skin-based diseases or just making campus smell better in general (at not all that much cost to CSA in the grand scheme of things),” Hamid said.

Marash spoke on the long term effects of the program: “[it] marks a key investment in the future of sustainability on Carleton’s campus,” said Marash. “Connecting the sustainability office with the everyday interactions of student life shows a deep investment and commitment to this necessary work that will impact us for generations to come. The confidence and comfort that come with increased access to personal hygiene through detergent access also create large strides in student comfort on campus.”

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About the Contributor
Bax Meyer
Bax Meyer, Managing Editor
Hey, all! I'm Bax (he/him), and I'm a junior Econ major with a Middle East Studies minor. I love talking about Middle East politics and American Indian Treaty Rights. I'll always send you good book or movie recomendations. You can probably find me on campus wandering the arb, on 1st libe, or at step areobics. I like dad jokes, American Indian Treaty Rights, shawarma, and publishing my hot takes in the Carletonian anonymously.
Red flags: econ major, will judge you for using the Oxford comma, and hates geese
Green flags: Middle East Studies minor, still uses the Oxford comma, and quotes the Star Wars prequels on the daily
Bax was previously Managing Director and Viewpoint Editor.

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