Saturday, February 26, 2011

Simple pleasures... and laundry

I'll never forget the laundry room of a family I lived with in Belgium. It was a small, dark space with a washing machine... and no dryer. Instead, there were wooden racks near the furnace, on which clothing and bedding and everything was hung to dry. I thought it strange at the time, but now I see how smart it is.

We have both washer and dryer at our house, but in the past two years, haven't used our dryer much at all. In the summer, everything goes out on the clothesline, and in the winter, we use our laundry room space to the max.

It started a few summers ago, when I hung all our laundry outside each week. When our electricity bills arrived, we noticed a 15% decrease in our electricity use. Clothes dryers are incredibly inefficient, and clothes don't seem to last as well when they're thrown around in the heat of a dryer drum on a regular basis. So my husband and I talked about it, and determined that it wouldn't be difficult to turn our laundry room into a place for drying clothes during the 7 or 8 months of the year when the weather outside is uncooperative. Lee found four wonderful retractable clotheslines to string across the room, and now our dryer sits idle most of the time. Our electricity bills are also easier on our finances.

True, it takes a little more time and effort to do the laundry this way, but we don't really mind. I love to see things hung up in order on the line, and feel some sort of spiritual connection with my grandmothers, who hung their clothes to dry before the advent of labour-saving devices. As I spread a tea towel over the line and fasten it with a clothespin, I often think of Amy from one of my Simplicity Study Circles, who talked about "Zenning" her laundry: handling each piece with an appreciation for its texture and colour, and being grateful for the fact that she could own such things at all. Being mindful of our clothing, giving thought to where it comes from and who might have made it, its weight and warmth, is not something that a lot of us have time to do. But perhaps if we did, our garments would become more precious and less disposable. Maybe we would care for them more and wear them longer, rather than spending our lives shopping for new things.

Or maybe I'm all wet, and should be hung out to dry!

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