Monday, March 5, 2012

Waste not, want not (part 1)

It's taken me almost the better part of four years to become wise to the false economies that I've been employing since arriving in the states. At first glance it's easy to condemn the behaviour of every-day Americans and pass judgement on the sheer day to day voluminous waste! If there's one thing I hate it's waste (I can hear those words coming right out of my Father's mouth).  

Being a coal miner's daughter, born and raised in the North of England, I've been accustomed to much hardier times than now - and our current lifestyle is not without it's struggles. I don't think it's accurate to say that I was raised as working class. My parents, however, were. My father shared a bedroom with five brothers, and as the story goes they had one pair of shoes between the lot of 'em. My mother has no siblings, but times were still hard for her growing up. With a bit of hard grafting and a little financial fortune, my parents were able to better themselves, providing a much easier life for my siblings and me - as we were reminded often - we dint' know we wo born!

Being a self made husband and wife, much of their working class habits remained, and I watched them scrimp and save during my whole childhood. Some things made sense - not always at the time - but many self induced hardships were a false economy. Apparently the apple does not fall too far from the tree.

Mum hated to use the tumble dryer. Instead she'd stand looking out the window all day, playing Russian roulette with the weather. The same load of washing would be hung out and brought in five times a day (on a good day). When I first moved to Texas I couldn't believe the size of the washing machines and dryers, and not forgetting my roots I was opposed to a dryer. With all this sunshine the idea was ludicrous - at first. We didn't have room or money to invest in what I'd deemed an excessive and unnecessary purchase - did we have money to burn?

So we searched high and low for a whirly-gig, not common place here, but we eventually tracked one down, and my dutiful husband (in spite of his better judgment) installed it for me less than 15 yards from the cabin door. It was positioned in the direct sunlight (there was no shade available anyhow) and our clothes were usually dried through before I'd even finished hanging them out - that was the problem right there.

It took ages to hang them out - and almost as long to fetch them back in! I'd acquired an enviable tan after only one week of laundry. I started having visions of becoming one of those wrinkled old leather skinned ladies back home, who spend their retired days, ritually stretched out under the unforgiving sun in Spain or Greece. After only 5 minutes of clothes pegging under the Texas sun, I'd be feeling dizzy and whoozy - even if I took a break to chug a pint of water - and it took at least 30 minutes to peg out an American 'Super-Size me' wash load. I don't know how those old cowboys coped being out under the brutal Texas sun all day! Even the shade is barely bearable during July and August.

I persevered with the whirly-gig for at least 6 months or so (admittedly most of that was Winter time) and we also invested in a couple of indoor clothes horses to assist with those crazy hot winter days that Texas throws out at you once in a while. I'd do my hanging indoors, then carry the clothes horses out to the deck to bask in the sun. They were only blown over a handful of times if I recall.

Eventually, however, we inherited a dryer from some close friends, and boy was that a life-changing day! The very fact that we would be recycling someone else's junk dryer at no cost to ourselves made the lifestyle change a much sweeter humble pie to swallow. I was sure that I would continue using our clothes horses, and even the bloody whirly-gig, at least during balmier days. But after just one load (I'm a little  ashamed to say) I was a total convert and I've never looked back. All good money/energy saving intentions are out the window! And our 'green' whirly-gig has sadly become a redundant waste of space in our shed.

I keep telling my husband that we'll find a convenient place for it outside, a little closer to the side of the house, where I can comfortably hang the washing out. But honestly, where would I get the time for that extra curricular activity? These days, finding time to empty the dryer is even a stretch!

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