Monday, February 22, 2010

Hangin' Out

A couple of weeks ago, I had a thought: Can I use my clothesline in the winter??

I posed the question to my Mom and husband, who said, "Why couldn't you??"

I don't know why I didn't think about it sooner... our winters (for the most part) are mild...

So... over the weekend I decided to hang my freshly washed (and detergent-free!) sheets out on the clothesline. The weather was cool with a nice breeze... mid-50's... hmmm... saying that I'm thinking that my family in Iowa would think that's a heatwave ;) Anyway, the sheets were dry in no time!! Sheets are by far my most favorite thing to hang out on the line... the feeling (and, of course, the scent) they get from blowing in the wind, can't possibly be replicated by the dryer. Usually one to procrastinate in making my bed, I actually made my bed right away... and was happy to do it. The sheets were crisp and cool... AND... I just couldn't get over the smell...ahhhh..... the scent of fresh air... seriously, companies try to bottle this scent... and people pay $$ for it!!

After the reminder of how great it is to use the clothesline...yesterday, I decided to keep it up. The weather was absolutely beautiful... low 60's with a nice breeze. It was hard to believe that only a week ago we had snow on the ground. Now, we had a Spring teaser... and I loved every second of it. Needless to say, it only made sense to hang out ALL of my laundry. By the time one load of laundry had dried on the line, another was ready
to be hung up. At the end of the day, I did four loads of laundry and had every bit folded an put away!
Besides the scent of fresh air on my laundry, I find that I'm more apt to fold laundry from the clothesline. Why? Well, with the dryer I pull everything out and put it in a basket to be carried to another room to be folded... which more often than not gets put off because something else has come up. BUT outside, as I take a clothespin off, I fold the laundry straight in
to the basket. I've often thought to myself, "Why don't I do this with clothes from the dryer?" Plain and simple, on the line... I hang the clothes up in order (of where they'll go), they're already laid out for digging for matching anything... and let's be realistic... it's a lot nicer standing outside folding laundry than it is sitting in a laundry room:)

So... from this point forward, I'm making the commitment to use my clothesline as my main source for drying our clothes. The dryer will be used only when it's: freezing cold, too humid, or raining.

Wondering about what impact not using a dryer has?

BENEFITS for the Environment:

Clothes dryers use an average of nearly 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. When you consider that a typical household in the United States consumes a total of about 11,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year; your clothes dryer could be accounting for ten percent of your total electricity use! Not to mention the fact that the majority of the electricity in the United States is generated by burning fossil fuels. Obviously, the burning of fossil fuels is associated with many harmful environmental effects, such as global warming, air pollution, water and land pollution.
BENEFITS for Your Wallet:

Each year, it costs about $130 just to run a clothes dryer. Energy from the wind and sun... now that's FREE!
BENEFITS for Your Clothes:

The dryer can wear down the material of your clothes, especially undergarments, clothing with elastic, sweaters, and other delicates. Line-drying your clothes helps make your clothes last longer. Hmmm... longer lasting clothes? That saves resources too :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reduce Reuse Reduce Video

Here's a video submission for the EPA video contest: Our Planet, Our Stuff, Our Choice. I absolutely LOVE this video. Sure, I may be a little biased since my superhero friend Jennifer is involved, not to mention Bonnie (she, too, is amazing) and the talented work of J Sun Productions.

Aside from all the amazing people involved...I love this video because the concept of REDUCING and REUSING MORE to Reduce our waste is so simple and so easy... it's perfect.

Detergent-Free Laundry!!!

Back in December, a friend sent me something about magnets that clean your laundry and while I was completely baffled... I was also intrigued by the idea... AND...I SO wanted to believe in it.  I sent the info onto my husband who quickly told me "no way."  I pressed the subject...because I thought it would be SO amazing to not have to use laundry detergent... but he stood strong.  Then... as if by fate... I was reading the reusablebags blog, where the opening sentence was:

"When I told my husband we were considering adding a product to use instead of chemical-laden laundry detergent packaged in wasteful plastic containers he said, "This might be where I draw the line on your hippy environmental stuff." I laughed, but I understood where he was coming from."

I was immediately sucked in... I could hear all of the words coming out of my mouth.  It was "so" me.  I read the entire blog post and sent it onto my husband (and Mom).  I waited for a response from my husband... knowing full and well that he was going to tell me "no way" or laugh at me being SO naive.  BUT, much to my surprise, he came home at lunch and asked me when I was going to order the laundry stuff???!!!  I honestly thought that he was joking or testing me.  BUT... he said, "If it works then great, if it doesn't... you can send it back, right?"

So, on my last drops of detergent and fabric softener, I immediately placed my order through for the chemical-free laundry ball and a set of dryer balls with a jar of fragrance sticks.  (I also ordered some other reusable products including new water bottle lids, and 3 oz airline approved tubes for my upcoming trip to LA.)  So... when my package arrived... I was so excited!!  I can honestly say that I really dislike doing laundry... with a family of five... it's never ending... but for the first time... I kid you not... I was so excited to get a load going!!

I waited... a little excited and nervous... for the first load to finish washing.  And when it did, I pulled out the wet clothes and smelled them.  AND... they smelled CLEAN!!  Of course, that's what I was hoping for... but I kept telling myself that it just might not.  Then after I dried the clothes, I smelled them again.  I just want to make sure that my desire to use less resources... isn't clouding my judgement ;) Needless to say, my nose has smelled A LOT of laundry these past 2 weeks!!  The good news is that after 2 weeks of using NO laundry detergent or fabric softener... everything smells SO clean (and static free)!!  Even though I totally wanted to believe in it... I'm honestly really amazed that it actually works!!  AND it lasts 700 washes!!  For real.

Obviously, I'm completely ecstatic about this for a number of reasons.  No products going into the water... no plastic bottles... no truck to deliver the plastic bottles filled with soaps to the store... no driving to the store to get more!!

So the other night, my Mom told me that she ordered her reusable laundry products!!!  And told me that she was going to get her neighbor to buy them too... create a "ripple" of her own!!  YAY!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

We Make It: Popsicles

Whenever I look at my trash, I'm overwhelmed with the fact that all I throw away are plastic type wrappers and bags that cannot be reused or recycled. In an effort to throw away as little as possible, I'm always trying to think of ways that I can eliminate waste and reduce the amount of trash we send to the landfill.

Like all kids, my kids are crazy about popsicles. Doesn't matter if it's winter or summer... they practically devour a box of popsicles before I can get the groceries put away.  Awhile back, my mom gave me some popsicle molds (double pop and push pop), which I've used sporadically over the past 7 years.  I've mostly used the push-pops molds and made creations such as blueberry cream, vanilla orange yogurt, and chocomole.
A few months ago, I thought about not buying popsicles anymore.  I got to thinking about how I don't buy a lot of things because they're individually wrapped and full of nastiness (e.g Fruit snacks)... so I thought... why am I buying popsicles??

I figure that there is no better time to try something new than during the slow season ;)  So... last month, as the kids finished their last box of popsicles, I told them that we weren't buying popsicles anymore. If they wanted popsicles... we would make popsicles.  Now, they still ask for them at the store... at this point it's still habit.  I just have to remind them and let them know that we can make popsicles when we get home.  Also, we've saved nearly all of our popsicle sticks and run them through the dishwasher to be used in our double pop molds. So they'll still get to read funny jokes on their popsicle sticks such as:

"What did the girl melon say to the boy melon when he asked her to run away with him?"

"We're too young, we canteloup." (Can't elope)

And, of course, the kids are on board.  Popsicles are popsicles, right?  And now, flavors are only limited by their imaginations... I have a feeling I'm gonna need some more popsicle molds come this summer. ;)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentine Cards

So the other day, my girl Jennifer and I were talking about Valentines. She was telling me how every year she spends hours making Valentines and is wondering why not just buy them? They don't really cost much... and there really isn't that much packaging. I, of course, got on a tangent about how much more meaning a homemade card has vs. a store bought card. Not to mention, the plastic wrap surrounding a box of store bought Valentines. I'm not sure why I kept talking because talking to Jennifer (my super hero friend) is like preaching to the choir. ;)

From the moment my kids had their first Valentine's party in preschool, I made the decision that we would always make Valentine's cards. Not because it was the environmentally responsible thing to do. But, more so because it would be a good learning activity for my kids. Cards made by my kids (and not from a box) are individual, creative and offer a well-rounded learning experience. Sure if we get a box of "character" valentines they can write their names and the names of their friends. BUT, if they make valentines then they get to create and design by cutting, coloring, writing, and sometimes gluing.

They also learn that gifts (and tokens of appreciation) don't have to come from a store.