By Larraine Roulston:
GREENING THE HOME OFFICE
- Take yourself off junk mail.
- Have recycling boxes by your desk to take all paper, batteries, ink cartridges and outdated e-waste.
- Use a power bar so you can turn off everything when not in use. Also, unplug your electronics at night, as they will still draw power even when turned off. (By the way, screens on older computers take more energy than newer models.) Turn off your printer when not in use.
- Purchase paper with recycled content, and print on both sides.
- Do banking online.
- Look to repurpose existing furniture for your office.
GREENING THE LAUNDRY ROOM
With approximately 75% of our clothing’s life cycle impacted by washing and drying, doing laundry has a mighty effect on the planet. According to Energy Star, the average family machine washes approximately 400 loads of laundry annually, consuming approximately 13,500 gallons of water. As for the dryer, it is recorded to be one of the biggest household energy hogs, second only to your refrigerator. If your laundry tub catches the machine’s waste water, you can use it to water the plants on your property.
By wearing your clothes more than once before washing, as well as hanging them to dry, they will last much longer. Manufacturer Levi’s jeans recommends washing jeans every two weeks. The United Nations Environment Program adds that, by wearing jeans 3 times before laundering, washing them in cold water, and skipping the dryer, you will consume upwards of 5 times less energy.
It takes just as much energy for a washing machine to launder a half load of clothes as it does a full load; therefore, opt to run this appliance when full.
A review of six green laundry detergents | Grist will help you choose the best green detergent for your needs and machine type.
Dryer sheet and fabric softener manufacturers do not list the harmful chemicals used in their products. These toxins remain in your clothing for a long time and, when exposed to heat (such as an iron, dryer, or hot water), vapors can be released into the environment for you to inhale or to absorb through your skin. When dryer sheets are in the dryer, they release these chemicals into the air through the dryer vent. If used regularly, they can be harmful to your nervous system. Alternatives include adding a little vinegar or baking soda to your wash.
If you are looking to purchase an exercise bike, first check pedal washer. Hand washing seems to work for some with Laundry plungers. When traveling, try stomping on a few duds while showering in the motel, then hang the clothes inside the tub area to dry overnight.
In the U.S., approximately 88 million dryers each emit more than a ton of carbon dioxide annually. Thankfully, the pro-line drying movement Right to Dry is receiving increased government support to override municipalities and homeowners’ associations that oppose hanging clothes out to dry, for property value concerns. If you must use a dryer, clean the lint filter each time to increase efficiency and to reduce the danger of fire.
What is Bleach? And Why is it Dangerous? – Sustainable Baby Steps lists all its hazardous chemicals.
Last stop will be the basement.
Larraine authors children’s adventure books on composting at www.castlecompost.com