Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Go Green in 2008 ~ Little.Blue.Different.

For weekdays* in the month of January, I will be posting some green (read environmentally friendly) ideas to think about. Going green is definitely on trend right now. Will the concepts we are learning and incorporating into our lives be sustained, or will they fall to the wayside as many other trends do? Our only hope is that green is here to stay.

Many of my posts will undoubtedly be solid waste/recycling related, 'cause that's what I do for a living. But, I'll try to explore a few other environmental mediums as well. It's all connected, you know. I'll also explore a few environmental myths on Fridays. I can't wait to bash my "favorite" marginally ecological but sold as such device that you are probably using in your home right now.

The thing to keep in mind is that we all do what we can. There are many luxuries our society enjoys, and it is difficult to imagine giving them all up cold turkey. Some less wasteful/ more environmentally friendly substitutes are better life choices, and can easily be incorporated into our daily routines. Other options may compromise an individual's lifestyle too much, or are just not economically feasible for most of us to implement. It's ok! We all just do what we can, and make the changes that work for us.

My first Go Green post concerns dryer sheets. Those of you who implement the *best option* for clothes maintenance and air dry their laundry get a green star and can skip this post altogether. But, if you use a dryer, and want to do it in a little more environmentally sensitive fashion, here are a few things to keep in mind. One, the sheets seem small and innocuous, but - cumulatively, think of how many dryer sheets you throw out a year. Maybe a trash bag worth's full? Also, imagine if everybody in the world took a dryer sheet and threw it on the ground. That would be a big problem, wouldn't it? Also, the sheets are laced with chemicals that may be ok to sell to consumers in "a product," generically, but should not have necessarily been sold in this product that clings to garments worn on, and can potentially be absorbed by, the body.

You may have seen these or similar reusable dryer balls in the As Sold on TV section of a home store and scoffed. I did too, at first. But, after a year's worth of use, I can say they work pretty dang well. Occasionally I have a load that is too big for them to work effectively, or a garment that just seems to be a static electricity generator on its own. But, for the skeptics among you, I have no complaints about their function.** True, the balls themselves will need to be disposed of too one day, but they are recyclable, and undoubtedly have a smaller ecological footprint than the use once and toss dryer sheets.

Wrapping up ~ If you're in the market for a new dryer, consider an energy efficient model. And if static cling doesn't really bother you except for the occasional creeping skirt, all you need to do is rub a metal clothes hanger on it!

* Weekends will still be used for crafty/ life posts.
** Clothes should be dried pretty quickly after they are finished washing. I guess the dryer sheets were masking a bit of mold smell that was imparted to my clothes using my more *relaxed* laundry methods. Again, no complaints - who wants to wear moldy clothes?

Note: (sorry for the never-ending post!) The parade was great! It was not as horribly uncomfortable as expected, and the seats were definitely worth it. Check out my Flickr set for pics.


Jane said...

I love my dryer balls. And, if I ever get a dog, I suppose they will too! Happy New Years!

sarah said...

If you have a lot of knits, the dryer balls can cut their lifespan down a lot -- millions of pills! (Depends on dryer model too, I think. But my experience was bad.)

I put nothing in the dryer when I use it, I use vinegar in the rinse cycle instead and it softens everything just as much.

Anonymous said...

My hubby and I went green last month. We started off by changing out every light bulb in the house except for the stairwell because the light fixture is too high up and way too hard to change. We ended up spending around $150 for over 30 bulbs but it was worth it when we received our first electric bill. For only 2 weeks worth of use our bill went from $110 to $78 (pretty good considering it was not even a full month). We also traded in the use of the plastic shopping bags to using the cloth ones. I hate static cling but I am willing to try your dryer ball idea even though I am skeptical. I think it is great what you are doing!

Happy New Years!

Jenn #2

jen b said...

Do you have a source for those dryer balls. i saw them online and didn't buy them. I haven't been able to find them since.

Carrie said...

Fun! I love our dryer balls too, although I've been trying to use an indoor drying rack for smaller items. Looking forward to green posts.. I love reading those to get new ideas! :)

telfair said...

Great suggestion -- thanks Jen! I'll be on the lookout for dryer balls and phasing out my dryer sheets. I guess I never really thought about their cumulative impact (or the possibility of absorbing those chemicals into my body. ugh.)

jek-a-go-go said...

oh yay! i love this idea and cannot wait to read your "rants"! we too in the casa de a-go-go, often rant away at some of the hooey that is palmed off to people who really want to do good. more power to ya sistah! Happy New Year!

Jennifer said...

Wow, Sarah - vinegar - that's hard core! I did mean to mention Borax as an alternative for softening and reducing static cling, but must admit I didn't know about vinegar. I haven't had a problem with pilling. The few wool sweaters I have I air dry, and the acrylic/cotton ones don't seem to be a problem. Thanks for chiming in!

jen b - I found this set at Bed Bath and Beyond for ~ $10

Diana said...

Thanks for the interesting post. By the way, Energy Star has information on energy efficient washers and explains how dryers are all the same (the energy efficiency does not vary from brand to brand). People who are shopping for energy efficient appliances may want to check the site:

Jennifer said...

Thanks for your comment Diana! Keep in mind that energy efficiency is more than just a measure of energy consumption. Though all dryers may consume about the same energy, some models work more efficiently at drying clothes than others. They work smarter, not harder. Here are some things to look for:

~ a moisture sensor to detect dryness that will shut the dryer off when the clothes are dry, rather than simply running the dryer for a selected period of time. 15% with a moisture sensing control. Not only will this save energy, it will reduce the wear and tear on clothes from over-drying.

~ if not a moisture sensor, a temperature sensor, which infers dryness by sensing the temperature of the exhaust air. Compared with timed drying, you can save about 10% with a temperature sensing control.

~ a cycle that includes a cool-down period, sometimes known as a "perma-press" cycle. In the last few minutes of the cycle, cool air, rather than heated air, is blown through the tumbling clothes to complete the drying process.