Thursday, February 26, 2009

#41 Fill it to the top! (but not too full)

A very basic piece of advice, I agree.   But for all those busy moms out there who need something washed right now and it's not laundry day and everything is crazy busy... you know what I mean.  Yes, there are smaller load settings on your machine, but it still is going to take the same amount of electricity to run a small load as a large one.  So take the extra moment or two to find items similar to the one you need washed now and throw them in there with it.  I have also been known to leave my last load of laundry on laundry day when it doesn't fill up the machine.  It gets filled up quickly enough, and is washed in the next couple of days.  Ta da.

Pros:  Bigger loads of laundry means less loads of laundry.

Cons:  It's easy to get carried away and fill the load a little too much, causing unnecessary wear and tear on your washer and dryer.

Monday, February 16, 2009

#40 Reduce your laundry load

Oh the dreaded laundry.  Unless you are rich and have a maid, or live in a nudist colony,  you can't really escape it.   The more people in your family, the bigger that pile gets.  Uggghhh!  Not only a lot of work, but a huge energy-consuming task.  So we'll explore some ways to reduce your energy consumption from this task, aside from getting a nice energy star efficient washer and dryer (although I'd love this, it's not in my budget.)  
The first one is: Do less laundry.  Yes, I'm serious.  I know, generally my suggestions promote more laundry (cloth everything, right?)  But does every article of clothing or towels that are used for a short period of time really need to be washed?  In some cases, yes (underwear.)  In other cases, I recommend the sight and smell test.  Before you throw those jeans into the laundry bin, look to see if there are any visible spots on them.  If there are, see if they will wipe off with a damp rag.   If the clothing passes that test, then use your smeller to make sure no icky odors have stuck to the clothing.  And there you have it.  If it passes the test, fold it back up and put it in your drawer or hang it in your closet.  Hang your towels up to dry and reuse them at least a couple of times.  Paying a little attention can save you money and energy in the end.

Pros:  Less laundry to wash, dry, and fold.  Reduce your carbon foot print.  Clothing will last longer when it is washed less frequently.

Cons:  KIDS!  With young kids, not only do they rarely not get something dirty even if it's only worn for 5 minutes, but they cannot tell if something needs washed or not.   It might take a little more effort when you're getting undressed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

#39 A roll of paper towels can last how long?

So what's the significance of this one little empty paper towel tube?  (Besides that it's being shown off by my cute boy.)  That tube is the inside of the roll of paper towels that was already partially used up in January of 2008 when my family started to cut way back on paper products use.   We finally actually used it up.  That's because I reserve the use of paper towels for only the ickiest of jobs, like cleaning poop or puke off the floor or something seriously greasy that wouldn't wash well out of a towel.  It really isn't hard to grab a cloth towel instead of a paper one.  And a few extra towels doesn't have much effect on the amount of laundry I do.  So next time you have a mess to clean up, think about the lasting effects of grabbing that paper towel!  I used to use paper towels in the bathroom to dry my face (the hand towels hold too much bacteria) but discovered it's just as effective to keep  a stack of small clean towels and use those instead.

One statistic I found stated that "The NRDC estimates that if every household in the United States used one less roll of paper towels, we could save 544,000 trees."  Alright, what about several less rolls of paper towels?  And if can't use cloth towels, you could at least use recycled paper towels.  I plan to buy recycled next time I need some, but right now since I bought a package before I started this plan, I have about a 20-year supply.

Pros:  Less paper wasted, less trees dead.  Cloth towels really clean things up better than paper towels, no matter what the quality of paper towels you buy.  Paper towels are not only wasteful, but very expensive!

Cons: Though it may be a small amount, it still is more laundry to do and fold.