Monthly Archives: March 2008

Drying Your Clothes with Less Energy

As the weather warms up, I’m starting to really wish for a clothesline. Only one reason one hasn’t been installed yet:

We’re renting.

We did think about it last year, and right about when we were starting to get winter rain was when my husband figured out a way he thinks he can manage it. Our budget is tight enough that we have to do this as cheaply as possible, and many of the freestanding solutions I saw were out of our budget last year.

This year the delay is different. With my husband out of work, we may only be here through April, then into the *eek!* inlaws’ house. And there’s no way we feel comfortable committing to a clothesline until we know we’re staying long enough to really reap the benefit.

Using a clothesline has a lot of advantages. First is how much you save on energy. Clothes dryers use a lot of it. According to, a clothesdryer uses 1800–5000 watts. If you wash a mere 4 loads a week with 45 minutes drying time for each load, that’s 187.2 kilowatt-hours per year, and at $0.085/ kWH, is $23.88/year on the low side.

But most families use their dryers far more than that. Heck, I can end up doing a load a day if my son’s going through a bedwetting phase. With 4 people in the house there’s always enough to make it a full load immediately.

Winters here are mild enough that much of the time we could even dry the clothes outside. But there are indoor systems that you can use too, I know. My mom even had a clothesrack when I was a kid.

Of course, if you do have a dryer and just prefer to use it, there are things you can do to save energy. Keeping the lint trap clear is a big one that most of us know, yet some neglect.

Your washing machine can also make a difference. The newer horizontal axis ones are more efficient in many ways, but they can be better at getting water out of your clothes as they dry, so there’s less work for the dryer to do. But with other washers you can get a similar effect by doing an extra spin cycle at the end. More moisture will come out.

Replacing your dryer when the time comes is one of the best ways to cut back on its energy use. Look for one that has a moisture dectector, which is pretty common now, I think.  Look for the most energy efficient you can get on your budget.

I’m very hopeful that we’ll get things figured out here so that we can stay at least another year or so. If we manage that, I’m going to try to get that clothesline up this year!

Coping with the Easter Excess

Wow. I didn’t think my kids were going to end up with quite so much chocolate this year, but boy did they ever!

We had bought the smaller chocolate bunnies for them, as did my inlaws, but my mom decided to have fun this year and got big ones. They’re some pretty serious (low quality) chocolate. Never did like Palmer’s chocolate, even as a kid. I flat out refuse to buy it on my own. But the kids of course are quite impressed and will no doubt enjoy it well enough.

Add in some Peeps, jelly beans and chocolate eggs, and we’ll be dealing with an overage for months.

That’s how I always handle Easter candy. It takes months to get through it all. The kids get to have some fun eating more of it than usual early on, but afterward they’re limited to a couple smallish pieces a day.

Then there’s all the other JUNK! Fortunately, aside from the candy there’s not much non-craft stuff we gave them. The plastic eggs are from previous years, and will be saved for future years. Ditto the baskets. We haven’t had to buy the basics like that for some time now.

We did end up with more plastic eggs this year, though. My daughter’s class had an egg hunt.

As with any holiday, it’s best to find your balance between buying and reusing. The more you can keep the buying to things that are organic, fair trade, local or needed, the better, but the more you can reuse, better yet.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Thinking Green for the Easter Basket

Easter is so early this year! It’s already time to finish planning out the Easter baskets. It can be a bit tricky to balance fun with environmentally friendly at times, but with the first holiday of spring, thinking about the environment should come naturally.

green easter egg hunt

Along with your chosen religious celebrations, of course.

Tip #1

Save Easter baskets from year to year. Don’t get the cheapie plastic ones from the store. Get some nicer ones that will last. My mother still has our childhood Easter baskets… those that survived years of use, anyhow.

Tip #2

Don’t use that plastic Easter grass. Shred junk mail or buy paper grass or tissue paper if you must for the baskets. If the lawn has been mowed recently enough you could even try using real grass clippings. Fabric is another idea. Kids don’t really care that much about the “grass” filling their baskets. They tend to be much more interested in the treats.

It’s too late to start it now, but there are even kits so that you can grow real grass in the Easter baskets.

Tip #3

Go easy on the candy.

This one is a weakness of mine, since there are several Easter candies I adore. Many people try buying just organic candies and treats, rather than the usual mess.

You don’t have to limit the treats to candy either, of course. I love to give my kids craft supplies for holidays. They adore them, and I’d end up buying them some other time anyhow. Anything that is something a bit special that I would have to buy anyhow I consider to be a good idea for gifts. Some ideas:

Tip #4

Think about how you dye your eggs. The one good thing about dyed eggs is that your kids won’t be eating the dyes themselves, aside from the tiny bits that may seep through cracks in the egg shells. But if you make the effort, there are many natural ways to dye Easter eggs, and the colors can be beautiful.

Skip the plastic eggs, of course, although if you already have some they are great for hiding coins and small treats in for the egg hunt.

Tip #5

Think Fair Trade or local when possible for any of the above. The more we take advantage of these options, the more available they should become.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Keeping St. Patrick’s Day Green

Going to the store, I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of (quite frankly) junk on sale for St. Patrick’s Day.


I don’t mean just corned beef, cabbage and shamrocks. I’m seeing all kinds of stuff to decorate for it, plastic hats and more.

It kind of saddens me, because it used to be that St. Patrick’s Day was a pretty simple holiday. You tell the kids they have to wear green or their friends will pinch them.

At least, that’s how we did it when I was a kid. No need to buy more stuff for it.

I love celebrating holidays as much as anyone, but I don’t think they all need to be consumeristic orgies. Who really needs something special to dress up in for St. Paddy’s?

I’d say:

  1. Keep it simple. Wear green clothes if you want to look like you’re celebrating the holiday.
  2. Skip the green food coloring. There are plenty of foods that are naturally green.
  3. Think about how much you drink, and perhaps more importantly, where! No drinking and driving, please.
  4. Have fun with the kids. If the weather is appropriate in your area, take them out to hunt clovers.
  5. Help the kids with some St. Patrick’s Day crafts.
  6. Take the time for a great family dinner, whether you have corned beef and cabbage, or something your family prefers.

Technorati Tags: , ,