An audacious dare

May 18, 2010

Here’s a challenge for you: skip a shower sometime this week.

When I issue that dare to audiences, I often hear a snicker and a murmur that sounds a lot like, “uh-uh”.  Yet if truth be told, most of us shower every morning not because we’re dirty; we shower because it feels good.  It’s our wake-up therapy.

But our daily shower habit is one of the reasons we North Americans use more water per person than anyone on the planet.  And – even worse – much of that water is hot water, heated by fossil fuel-fired electricity.  Our morning feel-good isn’t very good for the planet.

So here’s the challenge again: skip a shower this week, and every week.  You can make a big difference for the planet!

What’s good for the environment can be great for your wallet, and a clothesline is a perfect example.

Clothes dryers are among the biggest power hogs in your home, consuming about 4500 watts of power – equal to six microwave ovens or 350 compact fluorescent light bulbs.    If your power rate is 10 cents/KWH, a big load in the dryer adds 45 cents to your power bill.  One such load a day uses about $150 worth of power annually.

Then there are emissions.  If your power comes from coal or oil (as most of North America’s does), one big load in the dryer equals 4 kilograms of emissions.  One such load a day for a year adds over a tonne of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Clotheslines make environmental and economic sense.  Springtime is a great time to get reacquainted with yours, or to install one if you don’t have one.  Here’s a great seven minute video that explains everything about planning and installing your clothesline (except they use a rope where most clotheslines are plastic coated wire).