Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Slum Days of Summer

When friends and neighbors drop by these days, I often find myself apologizing for the homeless encampment look of our backyard: the clothing strung up on the arbor, a little city of cardboard boxes my two-year-old drives his toy cars on, and gobs of cups, buckets and shovels spilling out from the kiddie pool and sandbox, etc. I'm hopelessly didactic, so I'm likely to point out the conservation mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle.  

A lot of the mess keeps my son busy while I tend to fruit and vegetable plants. The box garages (below) is one of our attempts to reuse some of the miles of cardboard that come with kid stuff. 

The clothesline is retractable and is strung between poles of a shade structure that covers our patio. On hot Southern California days it's ridiculous to turn on your dryer, then crank up the AC. According to National Geographic's The Green Guide, a typical dryer emits 1,450 pounds of the global warming gas CO2 a year. That's equivalent to driving the average car more than 1,400 miles.

We have an efficient, Energy Star dryer and it's powered by our solar electric system (at least during the day), but a hotter house increases the likelihood we'll have to leave the AC on when it's dark and I'm already feeling parched as a prune. (Running the dryer at night, as recommended for folks without their own generation, would require power from the grid.) Besides, when outside temps hit 90 degrees, clothes dry faster on the line. And sunlight bleaches out many stains.  

Unfortunately, my kid's too little to reach the line. But I like to think he's getting a good demonstration of evaporation. 

Click here for more simple ways to cut your carbon

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