Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Greening of Me --

It has been a long time coming.  I have been thinking a great deal about all things ecological for some time and have been working toward becoming a little more green, a little more frugal and a little more self-sufficient.  I have done a few things, here and there but nothing I could really "see" until now.

I love to read blogs and have really been having a go at reading frugal, simple living blogs.  That is how I discovered two of my favorite blogs -- That British Woman and The Maple Syrup Mob.  These blogs are written by two lovely ladies with lots of interesting posts, great photos and really useful tips.  Their blogs have gone a long way to nudging me into the world of green.

Them and this utterly deplorable weather we have been having.

It is no surprise that Texas summers are hot, miserable and real energy expenders.  So, I decided that my goal this summer was to reduce our electric bill.  I had been mentally working up to this all spring, trying to figure out where I could make changes without turning off the air conditioning which wasn't going to happen.  Since the a/c wasn't an option, I decided to run the fans more and adjust the thermostat which I did.  I have also been making a HUGE concerted effort to turn off lights and unplug unnecessary appliances and chargers and things.  That hasn't been going too badly except that I have learned that my husband has a huge tendency to leave all the lights on in any room that he has even just walked through but that is another post -- the care, feeding and education of newly retired husbands.  Ugh.

I digress.  So I looked at what I do use around here that are major energy suckers and the two elephants in the room are the dryer (electric) and the dishwasher.  So.......I bought this--

and started drying my clothes on a line rather than in the dryer.  My mother-in-law declared me certifiable. Then, one day at Home Depot I discovered a close-out on a dryer like this --

so I bought it.  It was marked down from $30 to $6! My towels fit on it very well because it expands and it fits in the bathtub beautifully.  After drying  several different brands of towels -- seems I have an obsessive thing about buying towels -- I learned that some really soft, organic cotton towels that I bought at Bed, Bath and Beyond dry incredibly fast and are really soft when I use some sort of fabric softening agent -- usually vinegar.  I learned something else, as well.  I prefer hanging the clothes to dry.  I suddenly don't feel like a slave to the laundry -- I do some each day, nothing is piling up, it gets dry without me having to stand over it and hang it up.  Yes, I have to iron but I did that anyway so nothing is new there.  I was really surprised to find out that I was actually enjoying myself.

The next thing that I tackled was the dishwasher.  I hate hand washing dishes but decided to give it a go.  I mean, not everything went into the dishwasher anyway, something always had to be handwashed so why not just throw a few more things in the sink and be done.  My technique goes something like this --- scrape the dishes, stack them in the sink, squirt some soap in with them and fill the sink with the hottest water you can get out of the tap, turn off the light and go watch a movie.  When the movie is over, the water has cooled down enough to be manageable, do a quick wash and rinse (sometimes I fill the other side of the sink and sometimes I don't, depends on how much I have to rinse), place in the dishdrainer, cover with the dishtowel, turn off the light and watch Leno.  Much to my surprise, I am actually getting my entire kitchen cleaned each night.  Nothing piling up, nothing soaking over night, no mess to look at in the morning because it didn't all fit in the dishwasher.  Again, and very oddly, I am enjoying it.

I think the reason I am enjoying it is because something is actually getting accomplished that I can actually see.  The laundry gets DONE -- completely! The dishes get DONE -- completely!  It feels good to see, at the end of the day, that something is finished.

There is something else that I can see as well.  Today our electric bill came.  In the hottest part of the summer in what has to be the hottest state in the whole US, my electric bill was $20 less than it was last month! Not much, I realize, but to me it was.  I was validated! All my effort was rewarded with that little $20!  I was so pleased I was doing the happy dance! The Hubs sort of thought I was crazy -- for the dance, not the bill.  Little does he know that all it has done is make me want to do more, save more, be more self-sufficient. 

Thanks Jane and Gill! Now I am off to make more laundry soap!