If It’s Good for the Environment . . . Why Don’t You Do It?

Last week we heard your eco-confessions. This week we want to know your justifications for all of that appalling behavior! If you know it’s good for the environment . . . what’s holding you back?

They look like they’re having a good time . . . so why don’t I do it?

I’ll start. I know that hanging laundry to dry saves a lot of energy. I’ve written several posts about it and admonished others for it. Yet . . . I often dry my clothes in the dryer! Why? Well, I think it’s obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: It’s simply easier. I don’t need to clutter up a room with laundry and have it sit there for a week drying in the air. I like to fold warm, fluffy clothes. I save fifteen minutes every time I toss a load in the dryer instead of hanging it up on the rack. Terrible excuses, I know!

I hope to get back in the hanging habit now that the weather has warmed up. Go ahead—you can chastise me if you want!


  1. I’ve been known to get in the car and drive 5 miles for a drive thru soda or coffee to get the baby to take a nap. Or take the long way home for the same reason.

  2. To Rebecca – to make hanging easy I hang clothes on hangers. I know you mention clutter but in a bathroom, it really only takes a day or two for our stuff to dry. This doesn’t help with other stuff though like towels 🙁

    As for my sins I think they were Raid, some prepackaged foods, and um… non-fair trade coffee. Coffee – I drink a lot (too much) and I’m not a millionaire. I DO save money in so many other areas that this is a totally lame excuse now that I hear it out loud though. Maybe I’ll try from now on to buy fair trade organic only.

    Prepackaged foods at all – there’s is no excuse. It’s terrible. And I am working on this. I’d like to be food package free asap.

    My excuse for Raid – I will die of a heart attack if a spider is in the house with me (that I know is there). Death is a pretty good excuse IMO. This is likely one eco-sin I won’t ever be able to give up. We’ll see.

  3. Jennifer, the “clutter up a room” thing was a very poor excuse. I can hang my laundry in the (heated) basement in the winter and the attic in the summer–both are separate from our normal living space. It really does take forever to dry in this climate, though. At my old house I couldn’t hang laundry to dry because it just plain wouldn’t dry . . . it would stay wet for over a week and eventually mildew! However, I do not really have that excuse in this new house. I plan to get back on track this summer!

  4. My husband hates the crunchy feeling of hang dried towels, so when ever i do a load that has towels in it i throw that whole thing in the dryer. I figure if i have to run the dryer for the towels then i might as well do all of it, the electricity is going to be running anyway. We’ve been using a drying rack outside too but it drives me crazy because it ALWAYS blows over from the wind knocking all of our freshly laundered clothes onto the back patio floor basically dirtying them up again. I keep getting on my husband to build us a real laundry line but i think he just doesn’t know what to do. Got any good links or tutorials to setting up a sturdy laundry line?

    My other sins: eating out to much, buying candy (the sugary non organic stuff) and leaving the ceiling fans on when we’re not in the room.

  5. After reading your post and comments on laundering practices, I’m becoming more convinced that I should continue to use a laundromat and not buy a washer/dryer of my own. I can get all of my laundry done in 1.5 hours, I can dry all of it at once in one big dryer, and I don’t have to clutter up the planet with a new stainless-steel ventless washer/dryer combo.

    As for my sins, it would have to be chemicals. I work with chemistry in my job, and a lot of that gets flushed down the drain. We recycle what we can, but there’s not much I can do about the rest. At home, I still tend to use chemical drain openers. I tried all the earth-friendly stuff, and it didn’t work. As I was writing this, however, it occurred to me that the best solution would be to get a filter for the drain to catch my long hair before it has an opportunity to clog the drain. That’s my next order of business!

  6. I don’t use a clothes line because we have severe allergies and I don’t want pollen all over our clothes. I wish I could find a way to fix that.

  7. My main excuses for deviating from earth-friendly practices are either too little time or too little energy! I really love hanging clothes outside, so I am pretty good about doing that. Sometimes I hang the clothes outside the night before so I don’t have one extra thing to do in the morning before work/daycare!

  8. Jillian, is eating out really an eco-sin? I feel guilty about too much takeout because of the packaging, but actually going to restaurants can’t be that bad, right? Especially if you walk there. . . .

    Maybe someone (like BB!) can chime in about constructing an outdoor laundry line. I can’t have one; I don’t have enough open space.

    Gina, it probably is better to use community facilities instead of buying a new washer/dryer. You live alone, so you have a manageable amount of laundry to do. When you have more people living in the same place, it begins to make more sense to buy the washer/dryer. Another issue is cost. How much does the washer/dryer cost, and how long would it take to pay for itself? I think you told me you spend $9 each time you go to the laundromat. That seems like a lot!

    Lisa, is it possible to dry laundry inside? That’s what I do (when I do it). I have tried and tried to dry laundry outside, but every time I get earwigs in my laundry (disgusting!) or bird droppings or . . . something.

  9. I will go ahead and say it…some things I don’t do because you simply can’t do EVERYTHING. Every day I make as many eco-conscious decisions as I can comfortably make (“comfortably” being defined as not overly burdensome to my time, energy, or wallet), but I’m not about to go completely off the grid and become a hunter/gatherer. So in the absence of that there are thousands of ways my choices are horrendously un-green by someone’s standards and will always be. But with each small change in my lifestyle the next small change becomes that much easier and more “comfortable”. What I don’t think is helpful is to beat myself up about the progress I still have left to make. I’d be beating myself up for the rest of my life, until I lived in a one-room cabin built by hand from recycled materials…and then I’d kick myself for not using materials with better insulation so I could get away with warming my house with only my own body heat in the winter. Green “sins” are entirely relative, so I’d rather spare myself the guilt and just focus on feeling good and gaining momentum from each small step in the right direction that I take!

  10. Olivemom – being a hunter/gatherer who lives in a cabin of my own construction that is heated only by body is my ultimate green fantasy! However, I might have to move out of Portland to realize that fantasy, which is not going to happen any time soon. Dang.

    Rebecca – I spend $8-9 every time I go to the laundromat. However, I am so incredibly efficient with my time that I only use 2-3 washing machines per time (using the 4-load and 2-load washers and drying everything together). Then I don’t go back for a month. If I bought my own machine, I would have to get one of those tiny all-in-one euro ventless units. It would cost $800-1400 (not including the electricity and water to run it). At my current rate of use in the laundromat, it would take about 8 years to break even on the machine itself, but I would probably be using it once a week or more, which would put a strain on my time and water/electric bills. The laundromat is right by my community garden, so I think I’ll stick with that for now.

  11. Thank you, Olivemom! The fact that we are all here reading this blog means that we care and are trying to do better to reduce our impact on the environment and raise healthy kids. But it’s not really possible to do everything for most of us. For example, someone mentioned packaged foods… I work full-time and get home at 6pm. My son wants my attention, my husband (who has been watching our son all day) wants a nap, and somehow dinner has to get on the table by 7pm, so I usually combine some frozen or canned stuff with some fresh stuff because I just don’t have time to chop and peel and whatnot with a 4-year-old literally hanging on my arm. And on weekends I’d rather be out at the playground with him than in the kitchen making a week’s worth of meals. As with parenting in general, I try to do the best I can under the circumstances, and try not to sweat the fact that I’m not a perfect mom or perfectly green.

  12. Sadly our house is so humid it would take days for something to dry. 🙁 I hate this house lol. Hopefully when we move I can set up something to dry at least some things on an indoor line.

  13. I have no excuse whatsoever as I live in a dry sunny climate. Just got a front-loader and the stuff comes out so nearly dry already I may start actually line drying. I did that with the diapers the other day and the stains and smells all came out. However, they were quite crunch and I’m not sure the baby enjoyed that. So this time I just did 10 min. in the dryer (wipes and BG covers already dry after 10 min.!) and hung the rest outside. As for the rest of our laundry. . .well, maybe eventually.

  14. I line dry quite a lot, but in a two bedroom apartment it sometimes gets a bit much. We don’t have a basement or an attic. The clothes dry in our living room or on the balcony (which means we can’t use it for anything else). When I get sick of having the drying rack in the way I use the dryer for a while. The plus side of the line drying in a small space, though, is that don’t need a humidifier in the winter. The clothes/diapers drying can perfectly humidify the whole place 🙂

    By biggest eco and frugal sin is buying new instead of used. Sometimes I just don’t have the time and energy to hunt down what I want new so I get it brand new.

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