Going Green – Saving Green: Laundry Savings

Going Green ~ Saving Green

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

There’s something amazing to me about God creating the earth – if you read the creation account as if you’ve never heard it before, thinking about it like it’s new information – well, it’s a little bit awe-inspiring. Especially when you then look around and see the limitless creativity and economy he used.  It seems like we are still discovering new creatures, yet sometimes they carry characteristics of others we’ve already come to know and love.

And then to think he put man over it all to protect and nurture it – to take dominion over the creatures – which also implies the need to care for the environment of those creatures.  Man, who was created in his image, is tasked with the care of his special creation.  Pretty cool, huh, when you really stop to think about it?

I probably don’t think about it often enough.

And yet, there are times when I live up to his creative and efficient image in me – when I represent him well in and to his creation.

Sometimes it has been things like cultivating our yard to be beautiful and neat.  Sometimes it’s been things like tenderly caring for a pet until it is restored to health.  And other times it manifests itself in limiting my carbon footprint – reduce, reuse, recycle.

Van de Graaff Electro-Static GeneratorOne little thing we do is minimize our use of dryer sheets/fabric softener.  I did try to give up dryer sheets altogether, but everything stayed so staticky and then my hair constantly looked like I was at the science center touching one of those giant balls at the end of a Van de Graaff generator.

I went back to dryer sheets.

Then I read an article about how dryer sheets could be used multiple times – there’s enough fabric softener on the sheets to be effective for FOUR uses.  I tried that, but it was hard to locate the dryer sheet between loads, plus I could never decide if it was as effective on the fourth load as the first.

Then I decided, if a dryer sheet could be used four times, then it’s reasonable to assume 1/4 of a dryer sheet could be used once.

Eureka!

It works.  🙂

I know, it’s not rocket science, but it’s one little thing that saves us a lot of money and reduces our waste.

I should add, when we moved to Tennessee eight years ago and had to purchase a washer/dryer, we bought high-capacity, high-efficiency, front-loading machines.  Since I can wash/dry up to 17 pairs of jeans in my washer, our loads may be larger than yours.  We did make the shift to using 1/2 dryer sheet when we started making use of the full capacity of our dryer.  With nine people, seven of whom are growing bigger by the minute, we have definitely grown into our washer/dryer!

Which brings me to a second way we’ve saved a lot of money and reduced our carbon footprint is in the washer/dryer combo we use.  The front loading machines utilize significantly less water, detergent, and also minimize drying time.  So, if/when you are in the market for new laundry equipment, I highly recommend HE front-loading machines at whatever capacity makes sense for your size family.

I know there are also folks who make their own laundry soap and find additional savings there.  I haven’t personally delved into homemade soap, because our bulk purchases of laundry soap cost $13-$26 per year (since I run at least 2 loads of laundry per day, six days per week, I spend about $0.02-$0.04 per load on laundry detergent, which is well within reason in my book).

Still, it seems some folks are able to save by making their own laundry detergent, and two sweet friends have shared their recipes with me.  Here are links to the recipes they’ve recommended (I cannot vouch for anything else on these sites, so please, peruse with the same care you would on any new website):

Dry Laundry Detergent

Liquid Laundry Detergent

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Photo Credit:
Electro-Static Generator by Dtjrh2 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Green Piggy by RLHyde – http://www.flickr.com/photos/breatheindigital/ [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Going Green – Saving Green: Paper Towels

Going Green ~ Saving Green

One way we can execute grace is by preserving the earth for future generations.  If I can minimize my carbon footprint, I offer my children and your children a healthy and beautiful place to live.

Tree in Bloom

I am not a radical environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination, but there are little ways I take a stab at taking dominion over the earth in an earth-friendly way.

As an added and immediate benefit, it often saves me money.  I want to share some earth and money saving tips from time to time.  These tips are intended to be helpful – not burdensome!  Please don’t think you are doing something wrong if you choose to do it differently!  We all have different passions, values, and motivations – and that is a good thing!

image

The average American uses about 55 pounds of paper towels, napkins, and tissues per year.  I have nine average American’s in my home… that’s almost 500 pounds of disposable paper wiping things…  it’s kind of a lot.  I can do a little bit to limit our contribution to the land fills.

So, this year I decided to wage war on paper towels.  OK, maybe that language is a little strong – I don’t intend to eliminate our paper towel usage, but I have minimized it dramatically and it is saving us a fair amount of money.

Here’s how:

  • I bought flour sack towels – the least expensive, and largest towels you can find.  I bought two packages at Sam’s Wholesale Club, a smaller household might only need one.
  • I washed and dried my new towels on the hottest settings my washer and dryer offer.  All the shrinking was over with and I can use these washing settings whenever I want without fear of generating towels for our doll house.
  • I then cut my flour sack towels into 4 rectangles – first in half longwise, then each of the two pieces in half on the short side.
  • By cutting into quarters, my pieces were about the size of a full sized paper towel and two sides of each rectangle were already hemmed.
  • I hemmed the two cut edges.  I used a rolled hem because I have this really cool sewing machine foot that does the hard work and I like opportunities to practice the skill of using it.  You can mimic the folded edge of the purchased hems, use a rolled hem, or simply serge the edge.  It doesn’t really matter, the point is to prevent fraying on something you used to throw away, right?
  • I also purchased a toilet paper holder – it’s a cylinder intended to hold 3 rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom.  Mine is frosty white – slightly opaque.  It fits perfectly into the paper towel holder I have hanging in my kitchen.  I leave the lid off and stuff it full of my paper-towel alternative cloths (PAC).
  • I do not fold the cloths, I just jam them into the cylinder.  I have learned to wad them individually so I can pull out just one at a time.
  • We change kitchen towels every morning, so I have a pile of used PAC’s in the kitchen we take to the laundry room every morning with the kitchen towels.
  • Our laundry room has a small basket where we put kitchen towels, rags, and small items needing washing between loads.  We’ve added PAC’s to this basket.  When I am starting a load of white wash, I just throw this small basket in with the load and we have clean PAC’s.
  • imageOur laundry rotation includes a white clothes load (parent’s clothes) on Tuesday and a white bath towel load on Friday.  So at least twice per week the little basket gets emptied.  With the two packages of flour sack towels, I have plenty to make it between washing loads.
  • We still keep a roll of paper towels beneath the kitchen sink for occasions when I don’t want to use my pretty white PAC’s – busted lips, scrapes and cuts from climbing trees, an egg dropped on the floor, potty training incidents… you get the idea.

To give you an idea of how it’s working – we used to go through about 1-1/2 rolls of paper towels in our kitchen per week.  We have used less than 1/4 roll of paper towels since we switched to PAC’s about 6-weeks ago.  That’s a lot of paper towels not in the land fill.  It’s also a huge savings for us when every little bit helps.

Oh – and the cost of the flour sack towels and cylinder for storage was a total of $23.  We’ve more than recovered our initial cost.

I will admit hemming the towels was a bit tedious…  🙂

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Photo Credit:
Green Piggy by RLHyde – http://www.flickr.com/photos/breatheindigital/ [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Going Green – Saving Green: Cleaning Wipes

Going Green - Saving Green

Homemade Cleaning Wipes

Cleaning Wipes

1/2 roll Bounty select-a-size paper towels (cut in half as a cross-section)  I use the name brand because it doesn’t deteriorate when left sitting in liquid.

1 cup rubbing alcohol

1 T white vinegar

water to make 4 cups liquid

A plastic storage tub large enough to hold the half-height paper towel roll.  Drill a 1/2″ hole in the center of the lid.

Put the roll of paper towels in the tub, cut end up.  Mix the liquid ingredients and pour half over the paper towels.  Flip the roll to put the cut end down and pour on the other half of the liquid.  After about 2 minutes, pull the cardboard tube out of the center of the roll.  Take the end of the paper towel from the center of the roll and poke it through the hole in the lid.  Fasten the lid and you have disinfecting wipes with a handy dispenser.

We keep a container of these in the kitchen and under the sink in every bathroom.  Since we use these every day, we don’t have any problem with drying out.  But when we come home from vacation, we often need to throw away the towel sticking out of the top.  You can always add more of the same liquid, if needed.

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Photo Credit:
Green Piggy by RLHyde – http://www.flickr.com/photos/breatheindigital/ [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons