Friday, May 11, 2012

Life & Style: our call to live sustainably and responsibly

Jason and I have felt a call to live sustainably and responsibly for several years. Back when we lived in our tiny 350-square foot apartment {!}, we felt the call to leave this world better than we found it. There are many ways in which one can go about doing this; one way in which we have felt called to leave the world better than we found it is to use our resources very carefully.

It's easy for us to use some resources carefully. For instance, we're very careful naturally with our money at this season in our life, and taking care of this resource isn't a struggle for us.

The world's natural resources are one area in which we struggle. We both work several hours a day on our laptops for our careers. We use lamps at night when it's dark outside. We shower every day. We brush our teeth every day {although I'm really not suggesting we stop doing that!!!}. We use our dishwasher at least once a day and sometimes even more.

My friend and fellow blogger Jena from Becker Farms blogged about dishwashers the other week. She found she didn't use her dishwasher. That's awesome that she was able to take the dishwasher out of her house. Not having a diswasher, in this season of my life, would never work for me.

But you know what works for me? Hand washing the majority of our laundry.

I know, I know. Hit me with all the insanity of that. There's a multitude of reasons why we've decided, at this season of life, to hand wash our clothes, so let's get into it!

Jason and I live in an apartment, though thankfully not the 350-square foot apartment we used to live in. There is no washer or dryer hookup in our apartment, for starters {I'm not sure that we would buy these machines even if there were hookups, but for the sake of this discussion, there are no hookups anyway so it doesn't matter}. Each floor in all of the buildings have a communal washer and dryer.

We have a set budget for our laundry costs, and when we moved here a little more than year ago, the cost for washing and drying increased. By hand washing our clothes, we save quite a bit of money, which is allowing us to pay off our my student loan debt that much faster and work toward our other financial goals. We're not saving time, as it does take time to wash the clothes ourselves. It takes about 15 minutes each day to wash the clothes, but now that we've been doing it for awhile now, we find that the other benefits to hand washing our clothes outweigh the fact it takes time.

By hand washing our clothes and then hanging them up to dry on a clothesline, which we've been doing for a year now, we're saving the world's natural resources. We use less water and energy by washing the clothes ourselves. We're using our own energy, which is free and doesn't take away from the Earth, and we use less of the Earth's supply of water. In fact, in rainy seasons, you can even fill up buckets with water from the rain to use {we use two five-gallon buckets and this mobile washer to hand wash our clothes}. We also use less homemade laundry detergent by washing our clothes this way.

We've found that hand washing clothes works best if we both do it together. This results in an unexpected bit of extra time together, where we talk about our day, discuss the day's plans, discuss the week, talk about what we read in our Bibles, talk about what we heard on Dave Ramsey's radio show, discuss books we're reading, etc. We really enjoy this time we have together. So many of our chores are done solo - Jason will clean the kitchen while I dust. Jason will vacuum the floor while I pick up everything in the house and make sure the items are in their proper spots. Jason will clean the bathrooms while I clean out Preston's litter box. We rarely get to spend time doing chores together; taking care of laundry together is now allowing us the luxury of that.

Jena found having a dishwasher was not working for her. We actually have found the opposite to be true - we create so many dirty dishes by both of us working from home and thus eating three meals at home that it doesn't make sense in terms of time and energy to hand wash all the dishes. It probably helps that our apartment comes with a dishwasher in it, so there is no cost involved there in actually having one in our apartment and using it.

Hand washing laundry won't work for everyone. But you can do something today and every day to take care of the Earth and yourself. You've been given so many resources, and God is calling you to be a good steward of them. Maybe that means instead of buying lunch at work each day, you brown bag it. Maybe that means instead of buying cleaners with chemicals, you make your own using safe ingredients for babies and pets.

And for us, at this season in our life, we're called to remember that clean water is a luxury. Machines are a luxury. Energy is a luxury. And we don't need to use them all up just because they're convenient. You might just find that being a good steward of your resources doesn't just end up being something you enjoy, it might end up being the more convenient option.

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