How cool is this? I published Green Living for 15 years, following 15 years published by my predecessor, Marshall Glickman. For a dozen of my decade and a half I was joined by Gary Munkhoff and his partner, Susan Place, who published an Oregon-based edition. They are carrying on, looking better with each successive issue. See it here:
As for the article on The Joys of Laundry, was written by yours truly, so it was good to see it being recycled.
The Joys of Laundry
Want to do something to feed your soul while being a responsible steward of our diminishing fossil fuel resources? Want to harvest some solar energy without having to apply for government subsidies or understanding what it means to make your electric meter run backwards? Try hanging your laundry.
Unbelievably, there are gated communities in the United States that actually prohibit hanging your clothes out to dry. That’s how divorced we have become from the source of all life, the sun.
This isn’t about washing clothes. That’s the easy part. Throw ‘em in the machine. Wash ‘em in cold water. Use an environmentally friendly soap like Ivory Snow. Most laundry detergents contain dangerous chemicals that are irritating to the skin. Chemical residue remains on clothing after it is washed, especially added fragrances known for aggravating asthma. Keep it simple; keep it safe.
Here are a few tips you may not have thought of:
- Put a coin jar on top of the machine. (Not if you’re in a laundramat, silly.) Every time you do a load, empty your pockets and purse of change into the jar. Use the money for something frivolous. You will be surprised how quickly the money accumulates.
- Keep a can of shaving cream nearby. Any brand, but not scented. Shaving cream works wonders on some stains that defy expensive and more toxic products.
- Clean your washer tub by running an occasional load with no clothes but two cups of white vinegar.
- When you do a load of whites, brighten them by adding a quarter cup of lemon juice.
- Extend the life of your clothes by turning them inside out before putting them in the washing machine.
Now comes the fun part, hanging your clothes. Electric dryers are expensive energy hogs. Moreover, some of the commercial products like Bounce and Febreze that are used in dryers are among the worst things you can bring into contact with your lungs and body. They are known to cause respiratory distress and even heart attacks. The hazards of the chemicals used in these products have been known for decades. This is not new news. The use of these chemicals is intentional by their manufacturers, despite the known risk factors. They are willing to risk your health to create the illusion that your clothes smell “fresh.”
Avoid them like black ice. Make your clothes smell fresh by letting them harvest some solar energy. Let the moisture be wicked away by breezes caused by the interplay of sunlight on the surrounding hillsides that we call Vermont. Hang the clothes, using wooden pins, of course, from clothes line bought at the local hardware store. Take the rest of the day off.
Return at dusk to appreciate what you’ve accomplished. You’ve saved money by not operating your dryer. You’ve harvested sunlight and made use of the breezes from surrounding hillsides are covered with trees performing their own solar harvest. In winter you can re-harvest this same energy by drying your clothes by the woodstove. Not only will you be harvesting more energy, you’ll hydrate the air at the same time.
Life doesn’t need to be as complicated as we make it. Harvesting solar energy does not have to involve tax credits, complex financing schemes, acronym-laden government programs, or glass panels made in China and shipped across the Pacific Ocean. Hanging your clothes out to dry will not make your electric meter run backwards, however that works, but it will dry your clothes and make them smell good while reminding you that we live in a beautiful place where life is good.
Stephen Morris was the publisher of Green Living Journal, a publication that specializes in “practical information for friends of the environment.” He lives with a laundress on Gilead Brook Road.