The Campaign #WirDrehenRunter Contributes to Reducing the Average Washing Temperature in Germany by 1.25 °C!

Up to 60 percent of the carbon footprint of laundry washing is attributable to wash temperature and use, 20 percent to ingredients, and the remaining 20 percent to disposal, packaging, production and transport. Washing at lower temperatures, such as at 20 or 30 °C, makes an important contribution to saving energy, reducing emissions, and protecting the climate.

To help reduce the washing temperature in Germany, WWF Germany and Procter & Gamble joined hands in 2022. Through the ongoing campaign #WirDrehenRunter, the partners want to motivate a sustainable change in behaviour, namely turning down the washing temperature across German households. In this interview (in German) for FOCUS Online, Rosa Strube from the CSCP, Gabriele Hässig from P&G, and Heike Vesper from WWF Germany share details on how collaborative approaches can help change deeply-ingrained behaviours for the better. An overview of the campaign results is available in German and English.

Since the campaign started in July 2022, the average washing temperature in Germany has dropped from 43.18 °C to 41.95 °C. This simple behavioural change by German households has the potential to reduced CO2 emissions by up to 100,000 tons. Moreover, households that have washed at lower temperatures over the past twelve months have also saved money. An average household can save 37 euros a year by washing 3 times a week at 30 degrees or lower. You can calculate your personal savings potential with just a few clicks here.

The campaign #WirDrehenRunter, which will run for at least three years, has been scientifically monitored by the CSCP in its first year. The CSCP has supported WWF and P&G to develop a comprehensive research design which has also been reviewed by independent experts. The method combines quantitative and qualitative elements to measure changes in washing temperatures as well as to understand how barriers and enablers for colder washing have changed over time. The scientific monitoring is to become the basis for other behaviour change campaigns.

“Having the chance to scientifically evaluate such a large-scale behaviour change campaign is an exciting task and a great opportunity for any future campaign work. While it is always challenging to measure behaviour change, especially in large, real-world environments, we are proud of the framework we have developed with the support of different experts from practice and science and that we can now show some positive results and insights on how to further improve the campaign work.”, says Rosa Strube, Head of the Sustainable Lifestyles Team at the CSCP.

“I am convinced that we will see many more behaviour change campaigns driven by companies, civil society organisations, and political actors, which can hopefully build on some of the learnings of our process. Sharing our learnings and being transparent with the results had been a key principle to all partners from the beginning of our collaboration”, concludes Strube.

The most important part of the evaluation has been a quantitative survey to measure the actual washing temperatures in a representative panel of 1,000 individuals in Germany. It has been conducted once before the campaign started in May 2022, and again one year later in May 2023. The comparative market, Austria, where no communication on #WirDrehenRunter is running but other factors are readily comparable, is used to provide a comparative perspective on the results. While in Germany, we could see an average decrease of 1.25 °C, in Austria, no statistically relevant change in the average washing temperature is evident so far. The CO2 emissions saved were calculated on the basis of the results of the quantitative data collection.

To gather additional insights on factors that influenced the change of behaviours, monthly surveys have been conducted among a panel of 300 people to find out what motivates or prevents them from turning down the washing temperature. Qualitative studies like focus groups have been conducted to assess the perception of the campaign elements of #WirDrehenRunter and to measure factors that influence the washing temperature. For a detailed account of the campaign design and implementation, please check out this interview of Rosa Strube for The Decision Lab.

The ultimate goal of the campaign is to reduce the average washing temperature in Germany by a total of 3 °C by 2025.

For further information, please contact Rosa Strube.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash