Posted by: mdmusingsie | May 16, 2010

Reducing my carbon footprint

I’ve long been a proponent of recycling and put more items in my recycle bin every month than in my regular trash. It helps that I live in a tree-hugging area of the country that strongly advocates this behavior. When I had a job where I traveled, I was often struck by how few places across the country make recycling an easy task. I was even appalled by one University I visited where they would throw their soda cans or bottles in the trash because the recycle bin in the lunch room was too far away (turn left out the door and first room on your right!!). I have even been amused at finding a miniature recycle bin in my hotel rooms in Canada.

Therefore, as I settle in to Irish life I’m trying to do my part for the environment. I rarely leave things plugged in overnight (very rarely, I might add). When one of the myriad of electronic devices I have needs to be charged I turn the outlet off after it reaches full charge. Of course I still practice fervent recycling (though they can recycle more plastic items than we can so it’s still a little confusing as to which). However, two things are starting to move higher on the annoying list.

The first is drying clothing outside. I’ll be perfectly up front and say that if the combo washer/dryer didn’t do such a poor job drying clothes (it should not take 2 hours to dry a pair of jeans , a half dozen pair of knickers, an equal amount of socks, and a mesh bag containing brassieres), I would be using it more often. Yes, those items mentioned above will still spin in that noisy contraption, no matter how long it takes, but I have resorted to drying sheets and towels (dosed generously with fabric softener) outside. I must also point out that back at home I normally hang my shirts, blouses, and work pants to dry, but indoors.  (Ní mainicín mé, therefore, you will not see my knickers twisting in the wind.)
I must take exception, though, with some items taking an inordinate amount of time to dry outside. Granted it’s not exactly summer and the sun comes and goes but there’s usually enough wind to make the items flap in the breeze. Therefore, I would expect things to dry in a timely manner. Today, took the take when one of my shirts spent 4 hours flapping in the breeze and still remained damp.

Naturally, being relatively new to this hanging outside business, I am more than a little obsessive about it. May I also mention that there are two plastic coated wire contraptions on which I can place my items so they can dry? This apartment did not come with a clothes line. The breezes can be quite brisk and one of the poorly designed models fell over in the breeze, taking my newly washed clothing onto the concrete patio. I wasn’t OCD enough to re-wash them, employing the 30 second rule, but that means I do have to keep an eye on things. Of course I am also wary of the multitude of birds that make their flight path over this area. The first time I have to re-wash a load because a bird left a calling card (and I had to use the remaining items as vomit catchers due to my shallow gag reflex) I will be running that obnoxious dryer the entire day, if that’s what it takes to dry things. I’ll just learn to tune it out as another form of background noise (see related posting on web site),

The water heater is another one of those things that I haven’t quite gotten used to. It’s a good thing I don’t have to get up early to go to work (I don’t start work most days until Noon, Ireland time), so I can afford to get up, turn the water heater on, then crawl back in to bed for a half hour or so while it heats. I’m even becoming sensitive to the “off peak” light that comes on when you run it during the cheaper hours of the day. However, that particular contraption seems to turn itself on at random intervals, determined to undermine my efforts at being green (enough). There is no user’s manual, so I have no idea what settings make it turn on for no apparent reason (at random hours of the day), but I do make it a point now to look at it whenever I walk by and if I catch it on when I didn’t specifically put it in that state, then it’s off it goes, off peak light or not!

The other thing I haven’t quite figured out, and this may be a product of the places I’ve rented, is why the washers are so small? Due to their size, it is necessary to employ the machine more often. Now, using my deductive reasoning, if it takes an hour to run a “normal” load of laundry through a front loader machine, and it will take an hour whether you put 7 items in there or 14, why would you choose to only put 7? When I could do twice as many items in what would be half the time (one load vs two, in case you aren’t paying attention), wouldn’t I be saving more of the environment?

So I do what I can for the sake of the environment, but all it will take is one bird to send me running back to the safety of the dryer. I’m off to bring in the rack of towels….

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