The other day, my daughter told me I was helping the environment.
I did the usual mom thing, hmmm, ok honey, while I was busy hanging laundry. She kept walking beside me, handing me clothes pins from the bag. Merrily chatting away about this discovery.
So I stopped. "What do you mean, baby girl." "Well, mama, you are conserving energy." At this point, I looked at her because all I felt was completely exhausted and really, really tired of doing laundry "the old fashioned way." I hung up another t-shirt. She kept chatting.
I learned from my eight-year-old daughter that it is a good thing the dryer stopped working because now I can save the environment. It is better to hang up clothes on the line in the laundry room than to use up all that "energy." I smiled. Her argument made sense if you know me.
This is the daughter who goes with me on the twice-monthly trek to the recycling center to deposit the pre-sorted paper, glass, and plastic containers. The kids get a kick out of seeing how far they can make a milk jug go in the big metal bins.
My children have known me to tell them to pack their lunch in reusable containers, to purchase safe water bottles, to own a Britta and filter our water, to use cloth napkins instead of "wasting" all those paper ones, to use microfiber cleaning towels instead of paper towels, and to just as readily frequent The Women's Closet Exchange when I want a new pair of jeans instead of plopping down $100 or so at Lucky. I practice what I preach. I have my own reusable coffee cups that I take to the coffee shop so I won't have to throw one away. They have heard me say a million times that washing dishes by hand is better, faster, and less wasteful than using the dishwasher. So, for her, it wasn't a stretch to make the connection between a broken dryer, an exhausted mom, and saving the environment.
I believe, after two weeks of this, I have contributed to saving the environment a little. I have a family of five and two little girls who like to change clothes twice a day. Add to that the mountains of towels because those same little girls think they need a new bathtowel for each bathroom. I won't even start on the husband's workout gear and the son's t-shirts. Way too much laundry in this house to continue to save the environment. And I am so past the laundromat.
She, this same eight-year-old, thinks it is cool that dad took out his three baskets to go dry them while he works out. Or that I have two big baskets of wet towels waiting for me to go to the laundry and dutifully put in quarter after quarter until they are dry (except they never seem to get dry, dry). The girls are eager beavers to keep quarters for me or hand me clothes pins or joyously chatter away while I iron away the wrinkles. I now know why women ironed sheets fifty years ago - line drying may be good for the environment but it leave some things stiff-as-a-board!
Well, at least now, the laundromat is more "green" and has a TV with cable, wireless internet connection, huge machines, and a clean, white space. Far removed from the college and grad school days when I had to study at the laundromat while finishing mounds of laundry. Except back then, I was probably bad for the environment because I was known to just go buy the boys more underwear, socks, and t-shirts until I had a free Saturday.
My little girls did teach me a valuable lesson, in all their fasination with the "old fashioned way." Some things are better done by hand, slowly, and with care. Life is not a race but a journey and a little thing like hanging clothes garners an unexpected tender moment with a budding tween. Maybe it won't be so bad after all.
In the end, I appreciate this small inconvenience. I can always buy a new dryer or call a repairman. There was a time when I had no choice. And remembering those inconveniences is a reminder to be thankful. Everyday. All day. Even as I safe the environment with a pair of blue jeans.