Thursday, December 06, 2007

Global Warming Thursday: Just how much convenience do we need?

I just saw a commercial that made me want to laugh at first--until I realized it was serious. It starts out with a woman complaining that when her dishes came out of the dishwasher, they were still wet; there must be something wrong with her dishwasher. But that's not a joke. No, there's a new product that is intended to dry your dishes faster.

Now my dishes do in fact usually come out a little wet. Maybe because I don't use a heated drying cycle. It's not like they come out absolutely dripping, however, so I'm not sure how this is supposed to be such a big problem. And I notice that I can't find anything about which chemicals exactly are in it or how it manages this magical drying.

But this sort of product points to something else that bothers me about the endless line of new items that are supposed to make our lives earlier. So many of them put more chemicals--who knows which ones?!--into the environment or create additional waste. Or both. All in the name of saving a step or a minute. The argument is always that we have busy lives and will somehow save time if we have a specific product for every task.

I have been guilty of this, and there are several products in my house that attest to this. We have been very fond of our Swiffer and its different pads; we have used Lysol wipes and dryer sheets. And I know that we won't give up every convenience. But I have a few ideas for how we can balance convenience with environmental-consciousness in our new home:
  • We have already switched to a "reusable dryer sheet." They eliminate static electricity and soften fabric without any chemicals. And they last for at least 500 loads. Even in a large household, that's a year or more of drying without chemicals. There's probably a dollar savings to boot. (Found them at Whole Foods, if you want to know.)
  • We will be keeping our Swiffer handle, but I may replace the pads with microfiber cloths. They perform similarly to the dry Swiffer pads, but can be washed and reused. And if I don't have any of those handy, I may just grab a newborn cloth diaper.
  • I have two solutions for wipes. One is not to use them. And we don't use them very often at this point. But there are occasionally cleaning projects that just scream for one to discard the items used for wiping afterwards. For these, we'll be making some homemade wipes. We can use recycled paper towels and control the ingredients in the cleaning mix.
Truthfully, those steps just aren't all that inconvenient. Only the homemade wipes will create any additional work--and not that much once I have the plastic container.

And I definitely think it's convenient to lighten my burden on the planet!


b*babbler said...

I've been wanting to try the reusable dryer sheets for a while. I'm glad to hear that they work well - definitely going to pick one up now.

Thanks for the tip!

motherbumper said...

Love it love it love it - I have reuseable dryer sheets that I got at Home Hardware that rock. And B's old cloth diapers are awesome for cleaning stuff up.

Convenience is a mindset because once you figure out how to do things the "old" way, you realize how easy they actually are in addition to how much

cinnamon gurl said...

I had exactly the same reaction to that commercial!

I don't use dryer sheets because I didn't know there was a chemical-free option -- thanks!