Saturday, May 3, 2008

Ahhhhh, Laundry on the Line

Behold (at right) the money-in-the-bank, feel-good, hold-your-head-high, green investment of the season: a new set of clothespins. Sun and wind do the work, and you get the chance to get outside and do something that feels like real, useful activity. If you're lucky enough to have even a small backyard, you can use a line or a rotary-style drying rack.

Hanging laundry out to dry makes your clothes smell good and saves electricity (and gas, if you have a gas dryer). To combat that "stiff as a board" quality that line-dried laundry can sometimes have, try tumbling the laundry on the air-only setting of your dryer for just a few minutes, either before or after hanging it out to dry.

For some more tips on saving energy, money and CO2 emissions by using a clothesline, plus information on advocacy against homeowners' associations and ordinances that ban outdoor clotheslines, visit Project Laundrylist.

Addendum: Since posting this, I've been thinking about statistics quoted on several of the sites I looked at: that the average household does well over 400 loads of laundry per year, or 7-8 loads per week, or about 1.4 loads a day. Even when I was living in a household of five, which has got to be larger than the average household these days, I doubt we often did more than 4 or 5 loads a week, and often less. Granted, I've always had fairly large-capacity machines, but we got by with one or two loads of darks (one sturdy, one delicate) a week, a load of light-colored delicates, one big load of whites every week or so, and a load of pinks and reds about every 2-3 weeks (maybe more often when the girls were little). That about did it. Some things obviously need to be washed after a single use; others don't, necessarily: towels, for example; jeans, for another, unless they get dirty. Some things -- sweaters worn over shirts, for example -- might just need washing a couple of times a season, and they'll look nice longer, too, since they won't get pilled up so soon. Part of greening up our lives may involve some contemplation of our occasionally excessive standards of cleanliness.

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