Doing the Laundry

Recently someone told me that dryer sheets contain toxic chemicals which stick to clothing, remaining in contact with the wearer and then getting washed into the water when laundered. Our current box of sheets only lists as ingredients “softening agents (cationic type)” and “perfumes”, so I don’t know what’s in them, but here are some relevant articles at Grinning Planet, Grist, Green Living Tips, and News Target, plus the Wikipedia entry on fabric softeners.

I’ve never been a big fan of dryer sheets, but used them to control static electricity. A little googling turned up some suggested alternatives. The first one I tried was putting a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer; I tried this once (with three foil balls) and it didn’t completely eliminate the static. Two other suggestions were to leave static-prone items out of the dryer; and to dry the load incompletely, hanging it to finish. I don’t have much space so I plan to combine the two, drying the load partially, hanging the static-prone items, and finishing the rest in the dryer. Supposedly adding 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle will soften & eliminate static, but I’m holding off on that one.

Of course, it’s best to skip the dryer altogether when the weather’s warm enough. Clotheslines don’t use electricity or chemicals, don’t produce static electricity, and they make the clothes smell nice. Some neighborhood associations (the type more concerned with “property value” than community) ban clotheslines because they find them “unsightly”. What a narrow-minded, environmentally-destructive attitude! Hanging the wash is a totally homey, traditional American thing to do. Not only are these people indifferent to the Earth, but clearly they hate America.

[formerly at http://www.colintedford.com/downpower/2007/12/12/doing-the-laundry/]

In The Absence Of The Sacred

In The Absence Of The Sacred: The Failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations by Jerry ManderSierra Club Books, 1991 – 446 pages

It’s occurred to me, as it has to many others, that if I want to live more harmoniously, I might do well to learn more about the folk who peopled this land in relative peace for thousands of years. I’d read and liked Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television (a review for another day), but felt a little dubious when I saw In The Absence Of The Sacred. It looked like it might be some kind of misguided, backward-looking, native-romanticizing, technology-hating hippie trip, so I made a mental note and passed it by. But in light of the concern above, I wondered if the book might be more relevant than I’d realized – and it is. The two main points of the book are: 1. Our society needs to slow down and view new technologies much more skeptically, debating their potential extensively before they embed themselves in our lives, and 2. Our society could learn much of value from traditional tribal and subsistence-oriented peoples. Though I found some of the ideas in the book difficult to accept, I unfortunately also found them hard to argue with. Continue reading