Green Idea: Reduce Your Overall Amount of Laundry

In the early days of the Green Baby Guide, I admitted to some baby “rules” I violate to save the planet.  One of them is separating baby clothes from the rest of the laundry–a guideline I heard during our childbirth class and read in various baby books and websites.   I am not sure what the reasoning behind that bit of advice is; certainly if someone in the house has a contagious illness there are easier ways to catch it than wearing clothes that have been washed in the same load.

The average family of four does more than seven loads of laundry a week.  Many people wash even more than that, according to the answers to this Yahoo question.  We (three of us) don’t do any more than three–maybe four–loads a week, and that includes diaper laundry! (We also use cloth napkins and dish towels instead of paper towels.)   Reducing the amount of laundry you do can save thousands of gallons of water, not to mention electricity.  If you have a 40 gallon top-loading machine and wash a load a day, you’re using over 14,000 gallons of water to wash your clothes every year!  Tumble drying all those clothes could release as much as 1,825 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere in a year’s time, depending on where you live.

Line Drying Trouble-shooting

Yesterday, Joy wrote  about saving money and reducing carbon emissions by line drying clothes.  I lived without a dryer for three years, which forced me to hang all my clothes on a big indoor rack, over the radiator, or out on the balcony.  Later, I lived in an apartment with coin-operated dryers, but I was so used to line-drying that I continued doing it.  Then, after about five solid years of dryer abstinence,  I started using the dryer again.  I felt guilty about it, but it was just so much easier, especially in during those nine rainy months of the year.

So why do people give up on line-drying?  Here are some of the biggest line-drying problems you may encounter–and how to solve them.