Recently I talked about how moving to Australia changed my environmental attitude. In America I thought I was doing great, but it turns out I was the eco equivalent of a couch jockey.
I watched from the sidelines, cursing missed plays and cheering the victories, none of which were mine. Coming to Australia brought me into the game, and for the next few days I’m discussing the new rules and plays I’ve learned. Today is laundry day.
My Clothes Washing Myths:
When it comes to washing laundry, I believed that whites must be shimmering and the only way to accomplish this was by using copious amounts of bleach. I also used a clothes dryer regularly because I felt hanging laundry to dry would take too long and be impractical. I always intended to explore bleach alternatives and hanging laundry to dry someday when I had more time.
My Clothes Washing Truth:
Clothes can be white without bleach. The chlorine in bleach binds with organic material to form organo chlorines, toxic compounds that are toxic and persist in the environment. Instead of using bleach I’ve used vinegar and baking soda in my light color washes. That, combined with the natural bleaching of the sun, has kept my whites bright enough. The sun also acts as a natural disinfectant, keeping everything spiffy clean and germ free.
As far as hanging clothes being too inconvenient, an interesting factoid about Australia is that I don’t know anyone who actually owns a dryer. Everyone hangs their clothes out to dry, and an electric dryer is considered a luxury. My newspaper seller says that he and his wife received one ages ago as a gift, and they “used it a few times when the kids were small.” His doctor actually recommended line drying clothes in the sun to take advantage of its anti bacterial properties and prevent rashes.
I’ve lived without bleach and clothes dryers for over three months now, and haven’t had any problems yet. My clothes actually feel crisp and new, and they smell fabulous.
Gallons of chemically enhanced wash water and hours of power saved, and another attitude adjustment for me. I hope you’ll join me tomorrow as I continue my confession of waste.