Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ECO ACTION: Air Drying Clothes

I've decided to take the challenge over at Fake Plastic Fish to air dry at least one load of laundry each week. Have been doing this occasionally, but not in any methodical way. The idea is to use the electric dryer less, thereby consuming less electricity and contributing in this small way to reducing global warming.

This week, already, I've air dried two full loads of laundry with very little extra effort.

This is the week each fall when I get out my winter clothes and put away my summer things until the following May. Always a bitter-sweet exercise, marking the passing of one season into the next. This morning I washed and hung out the following in the sun on a large wooden rack:
  • 12 sweaters [mostly purchased from second-hand stores last fall, still good as new]
  • 3 long-sleeve tops
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • 6 pair of heavy socks
  • 1 polar fleece vest
I just checked and found that these are nearly dry after just 5 hours of letting the sun and air do all the work.

The wooden rack came from a crafters store near my house, Cape Cod Crafters, that unfortunately no longer carries them. I asked when I bought it several years go and was told it was handmade by a craftsman in the Ozarks. I wish now that I'd kept his information. With another rack like this one I could dry several loads of laundry at once. Fully expanded, it's 4 feet long, 2 feet wide and about 5 1/2 feet tall. Folded it's 4 ft x 2 1/2 ft x 6 inches thick, and will stand on its short end against a wall, out of the way.

Yesterday was cloudy, so I used a smaller wire rack set up in the bathtub, plus several hangers on the shower curtain rod, to dry a small load of laundry in about 24 hours. The few things that were still damp this morning got a 10 minute touch-up in the dryer. This brief touch-up also softened the items that had a stiff, crunchy air-dried feeling. That load included:
  • 2 polar fleece jackets
  • 2 tops and 2 bottoms of silk long underwear [To be worn indoors as a layer under other warm clothes, so we can keep the heat set at 65F during the winter, saving $ and heating oil.]
  • 10 cotton handkerchiefs [Started using these back in May to replace disposable Kleenex tissues, reducing my use of disposables and the energy consumed to make them.]
  • 2 long-sleave shirts
  • undergarments not suitable for air drying in publicly visible areas of the house or outside
All very easy to do. I just have to plan ahead so I'm not rushing to get clean clothes to wear for the same day, washed and dried in a hurry.

In the process, I feel more connected with what I'm doing. Ironically, returning to the old ways of doing things brings me more firmly back into the present moment.

The freedom promised by mechanized, electrified 20th century technology is frequently squandered on mindless worries and shallow distractions. If I know I can hurry around getting things done at the last minute, I often do. The freedom I truly enjoy is freedom from worry, freedom from distraction that comes when I'm fully engaged in what I'm doing--and when I plan ahead for tomorrow's needs.

We should make sure that the impact we're having on the environment through our uses technology is, at the very least, being traded for something of lasting value. If not, then returning to more traditional, low-tech ways might be a better answer.

(c)2009 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing