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Some environmentally unfriendly practices--like double-bagging your groceries or drag racing your Hummer--are easy to give up. Others, like using a washing machine, are harder to forgo.

But now there's a new way to lower your laundry's carbon footprint: the Ecowasbal, a clothes-washing gizmo that you pop in with the laundry to reduce about 80 percent of your ordinary detergent use.

The Dutch-made device ($38) looks a little like an intergalactic dog toy, and the way it works is equally futuristic. When placed in the washing machine along with a tablespoon of detergent, small ceramic beads inside the ball interact with water to release clothes' dirt and odors while leaving fabrics and colors intact. You can use it up to 1,000 times, and the company claims that for lightly soiled loads you can skip detergent altogether (though we weren't brave enough to try).

But does it work? After our recent test-drive, we were duly impressed. Our laundry emerged looking and smelling as clean as ever.

Just think how far a single bottle of detergent will get you.

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