Project Laundry List is an organization dedicated to “advocacy to educate people about how simple lifestyle modifications, including air-drying one’s clothes, can reduce our dependence on environmentally and culturally costly energy sources.”
The products page has some great resources to peruse. It lets us know what laundry detergents are really green, various types of laundry racks, energy-efficient dryers, etc.
In the warm months I put the laundry out on the line; in the winter I hang it on racks here in the house. I will admit I use the dryer for jeans, towels, and socks but otherwise everything goes on the rack. Doing so has cut down on our electric bill and on our energy consumption.
A few weeks back I went to my boss’ house for a “woman’s night.” I was talking to the ladies about how Devin asked me “how come you have the trees tied together?”* I explained to the group of ladies how I had a hearty laugh and then told him the reason for the ropes. After I finished a young lady said she’d hung lines in the backyard of your mother’s house and the mother screamed at her saying “it looks like we live in a tenement. You want the neighbors to think we’re poor? Take them down!” We then started talking about how many of the choices we make regarding what we “need” is based on keeping up with the Joneses and not actually based on need. And how many of our choices are designed to conform with the middle class and that’s what the middle class focuses on: conformity.
I think what started the conversation was I was telling the women about how I went to my grandmother and mother in law and asked them to teach me how to can but neither of them knew how to. Both are daughters of immigrants and wanted to jettison any tell-tale markers as being the children of immigrants so they eliminated any chance they’d be identified as such. Making their own food was one thing they dropped faster than a hot potato–after all, to go to the grocery store was a sign of wealth; cooking your own food was as sign of poverty. To do so invited criticism from the middle class white Americans they were trying to conform–trying to be— to so they did what they could to become “Americans” in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, they not only lost traditional cooking arts, they also lost traditional languages, healing arts, any sense of ethnic identity, and their compassion. Instead of love and affection for their human neighbors, they were filled with hatred for the poor and immigrants and solidly placed themselves in the American landscape in order to conform to the Joneses.
And I think it’s tragic.
Please take a minute to eyeball the site and pass it along!
*This was a couple years ago. Devin is the son of Michelle, a very good friend of mine. Sometimes he comes up to snowboard or camp in the front yard.