Sunday, October 16, 2011

52 Small Steps - week 13

Laundry - there's been a huge amount of laundry in our house this week. 

Laundry is an issue for all of us.  We all have to have clean clothes.  I've known people who sent their laundry out (urban dwellers with more money than I).  I've known people who were fastidious about their laundry, and those who really didn't care if it was wrinkly when it came out of the dryer.

But no matter how you do your laundry or how fussy you are, laundry has a tendency to use a lot of water, energy and put a lot of chemicals into the environment.  So I started to wonder what I could suggest to people about reducing their laundry footprint.  There are several basic suggestions that came to mind:

1)  hang your laundry to dry.  This is pretty basic, and you've heard it before.  Hang your laundry and reduce the amount that you use your dryer.  The dryer is the single biggest user of electricity of all your appliances (well, the refrigerator does a good job, too, but it's much easier to stop using the dryer so much).  Hang laundry on a line or use a rack in your laundry room. 

2) make your own laundry detergent.  Not only will you reduce the scents and chemicals that infiltrate your home and body, but you will reduce the plastic packaging.  A very simple recipe is:
  • 1 bar of Sunlite Soap, grated on the small grater (you can find it at Safeway in the laundry aisle in our town)
  • 2 cups borax
  • 2 cups washing soda (also in the laundry aisle)
3) stop using fabric softener.  It's really not necessary (and when the neighbours use dryer sheets, it makes me kinda nauseous), but if you really want something to use as fabric softener, use vinegar.  It works just fine.

4) Dry Cleaning.  I know dry cleaning is important at times.  But please, don't dry clean something unless you really have to and it is really dirty.  The whole process of dry cleaning is pretty foreign to me, but it's just a gut feeling that it can't be good for anyone.  Please see:

http://www.thegoodhuman.com/2007/05/07/why-dry-cleaning-is-so-bad-for-the-environment/

http://www.wisegeek.com/is-dry-cleaning-bad-for-the-environment.htm

http://www.ec.gc.ca/regs-tetra/


But my last and final comment on laundry is this: wear your clothes more than once.  You know why we have underwear?  So our clothes don't get disgusting quite so fast.  So wear your jeans for 2 or 3 (or dare I say 4?) days before you wash them.  Unless your clothes smell bad or are covered in dirt, they are probably okay for another wearing.  Do you think your Great Grandmother washed her dresses after each wearing?  Of course not.  They hung their (small number) of clothes up every night to air out and washed once a week.

I thank God regularly for my washing machine.  Laundry (even when people didn't own many clothes) used to be a one or two day affair every week.  I am so grateful to have a washing machine.  But like everything else, we take them for granted now and use them more than we need to.  So be aware every time you use that wonderful machine, what life would be like without it (oh ... and be thankful for your dishwasher, too ... and your fridge).

So reduce the amount of water you use, the amount of energy you use, and the amount of work you have to do, by re-wearing your clothes!

Last week's "Small Steps" post:  http://sandiratch.blogspot.com/2011/10/52-small-steps-week-12.html

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