Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Two steps forward

Last winter I wrote a post about wanting to reduce the amount of trash our family generates. I included a quote from Dr. Matthew Sleeth that says that "the quickest measure of a household's waste is how much trash it makes." Yikes! I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and though I feel like we've taken some steps in the right direction, we still have a long ways to go!

One of the most recent things we've been doing is saving some of our fruit and veggie scraps/peels to give to horses owned by some friends from church. Nathan loves this solution, as do the horses and their owners. Of course, horses can't have all veggie scraps, but so far they've really enjoyed carrot peels, apple cores, celery ends and strawberry tops!

I had planned to participate in our community garden's composting program, but they decided not to start it this year. For now, feeding the horses is a win-win situation!

Our other recent eco-development is purchasing a solar-powered clothes dryer! =)

My sister's post inspired me to make this happen, and I talked to Eric about buying a retractable line like Monica's. Well, my problem-solving husband came up with a cheaper version, using rope, eye hooks, and carabiners! We spent just a couple dollars on this project, and will quickly re-coup the cost via energy savings! I confess I don't use it for all of our laundry--I'm not a fan of "crunchy" towels* or hanging our undergarments in such a visible place (we live on a corner), but as I've said before even little changes can make a big difference!

*I just read a tip in a book that suggested drying towels in the dryer for a few minutes and then hanging them on the line, but I haven't tried it yet. Has anyone else done that, or do you have other suggestions?


Angela - Life w/ Two Busy Boys said...

My dryer has been broken since Friday and I've been seriously considering getting a clothes line. My son has allergies so I've been told not to dry the clothes outside...but I might have to give it a try in seasons that are not so filled with pollen.

erin said...

I wish I had a place to hang clothes, I love the way they smell when you bring them inside. Very creative solution!

laura m. said...

hi carrie!
i have been reading your blog for awhile now and really enjoy it.
i know you must be very busy with two now. i wondered if you had the time if you would write a post on caring for a newborn and a toddler. i am due with my second in a few weeks and have an 18 month old as well. i would love to hear what you have to say!
thanks so much!
laura in ohio

Mary Ann said...

Our clothesline has been a great investment too. Our dryer stopped working in April and my dad just fixed it last week when he was here. I was so grateful to have the clothesline so we didn't have to go to too much trouble to dry the clothes.

As far as crunchy towels go, I don't like them either. Drying them in the dryer for 10-20 minutes before hanging them out really helps! I always dry my towels that way so when the dryer broke, we had to just deal with the stiff towels for awhile. Yesterday was the first day we were back to normal with drying towels in the dryer before hanging them out. When we were folding them, we kept commenting on how soft they were.:-)Supposedly adding some vinegar to the washing machine helps to soften them as well, but I really didn't notice too much of a help with that.

I really need to start composting or something. 75% of our garbage is food scraps.

Andrew and Rachel said...

Good for you! I love line drying and was able to dry 5 loads outside yesterday, thanks to breezy, dry, hot Colorado air. My solution was also a couple ropes with loops tied at the ends that slip over our fence pickets, since we have no suitable trees. Crunchy towels aren't my favorite, but we are getting used to it. Line drying just to be one of those simple pleasures for me. We also have a slowly working outdoor compost bin and in recent months have added an indoor worm bin that can take produce scraps, paper, dryer lint, etc.

Katie said...

Just last week, I decided to try to not using the dryer for the rest of the summer. I don't have a clothesline, though, and since hubby isn't home to help install one, I had to compromise. I have been hanging clothes on hangers and hanging them in our two showers and in the laundry room. Takes a while to dry if there isn't much airflow, but I'm looking foward to the savings.

I haven't tried this yet, but I read online somewhere that you can add some salt to your washing cycle to decrease the stiffness of the towels. I'll let you know if this works when I try it.

A couple of other things I did to save $ this summer - we're not using the A/C at all, and I stopped buying paper towels. I've found other alternatives for both of these things.

Great post!

Ginger said...

Carrie, I have put towels in the dryer for about 10 minutes and then hung them up. It worked fine for me.

Susan said...

I think I am the only one in this town with a dryer. I am the wasteful American. The Europeans have drying racks for their clothes. I use the dryer for only towels in summer. I half dry them in the dryer and hang them the other half, and have been satisfied with the results. I do not use fabric softner on towels because it makes them smell mildewy after a while.

I like the idea of feeding the horses with vegetable scraps. We have horses all over here. Thanks for the tip!

Wendi said...

I love my clothesline. I also dry undies and towels in the dryer. My hubby doesn't like the stiff feel of his shorts dried on the line. The solutions is to dry them on the line and then fluff them in the dryer. He gets his dryer soft clothes, but I don't to run the dryer for an hour.

MasonLeskowitz said...

Hi Carrie,
I hang everything (with a 2 year old and a 5 year old it really is the most hygenic way to dry - the sun kills more germs, so I 've read, than the electric heat ever can) and then toss it all in the dryer on cool for about 10 minutes to reduce the stiffness and 'crunchiness'.
Good luck!

Liz said...

I just read in a Martha Stewart magazine last night to either fluff them for a few minutes in the dryer, or to use less detergent , or add 1/4 cup white vinegar or baking soda to the wash. Plenty of options to try!

Mom said...

Another way to soften line-dried towels is to hang them out on a breezy day. The wind will whip them back and forth -- they will end up less "crunchy!" Of course, you might need to add a few extra clothespins to keep them from coming loose on the line! :)

Thanks for the reminder about how much trash/waste we generate -- I recently read about a couple in New Zealand who cut their trash for one year to one small bag! Fascinating! Of course, they had to do a lot of "precycling" -- no buying products in packaging that couldn't be recycled. We compost and recycle everything we can, but there are still things to discard. I recently read there is no "away" -- as in throwing something away -- it all goes somewhere. I would love to reach the level of non-waste that the couple in New Zealand did!

Great post! Love you, Mom

Mom2fur said...

I love my clothesline! I only wish we had more sunny days here on Long Island. But the rainy days are perfect for doing things you don't like 'crunchy,' like towels and jeans.
Speaking of saving, how old is your fridge? I heard somewhere that a refrigerator older than 15 years or so is a real energy waster. What you save in electricity probably pays for the new fridge pretty fast!

Rachael in NZ said...

Hi Carrie,
I do find your post so funny! (respectfully funny though :-)
I've read several American blogs talking about saving money by line drying. Here in NZ it is normal to hand your washing on the line. We are in mid winter here now, and it is a constant struggle to get washing dry (we have 5 children). I am sitting next to a drying rack and will rotate the clothes throughout the day, probably just finishing them off in the dryer. A lot of our cotton clothes shrink in the dryer, so that doesn't help, and the electricity is SOOO expensive here!! Every now & then I allow myself to put wet laundry straight in the dryer, but it's usually just for finishing off. I do love soft towels though :-)
Enjoy your clothesline!!

gail said...

just catching up on my blog reading. i love having a drying line. i still use a drying rack indoors now that we're in the apt for a few things.

have a wonderful vacation and see ya when ya get back! gail

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

I air dry most of our clothes. Before folding them, I pop them in the dryer on the air cycle for about 15 minutes to soften them up and remove any lint/cat hair. From what I understand, it's the heating element in the dryer that is the energy hog, so I don't feel bad about using the air cycle to fluff things.

Anonymous said...

We have been using the retractable clothes line and a huge indoor drying rack (bought cheaply in Amish country) for the past six years. We rarely use our dryer any more. Towels are the exception! We have also noticed that our clothes last longer! Lint = clothes parts! The sun also helps remove any tomato-based stain. We also hang underwear inside on a small clothesline (also retractable) in our utility room. The savings from line drying help keep our expenses low and I have lots of thinking and praying time while hanging laundry. Some days the kids want to help and that time is precious as well.

Jamie - Family Focused Fun said...

Hi Carrie!
It was so much fun to get together with you! I wish you all lived closer! :-)
I hope you are having a wonderful vacation. This post is so funny. After I read that post of Monica's months ago I went out and bought one of those retractable lines. We also live on a corner so I've been debating about where to hang it at though! I don't want my laundry out in the front lawn for everyone to see... But you inspired me to get it out today and test out where it would look best. I'm going to have Mark help me with it when he gets home! :-) There's just something about drying your clothes outside that makes me happy.