I had this thought the other day about our grandparents and their parents before them. My mother's mother knew how to grow almost all her own food, and forage for the rest of it. She had to as they were very poor. She grew up in a time where excess was something only the wealthy had, so she knew how to save and reuse everything, and do almost anything herself, manually. And she wasn't alone, the majority of people at that time, had the same skills.
Nowadays, those skills are more of a rarity. While there's definitely an uptick in people who are recouping those skills, the vast majority of the population, is operating in a different trade off.
It seems like all of life today is a trade of time vs money. Back then, they didn't have a lot of money, so a lot of time was necessary to complete tasks. But in our quest to make our lives ever more comfortable, we've reversed the trade. Now, we've traded money for the time. Many labor-intensive activities aren't worth our time, so we throw our money at it to get it done. This, in my opinion, is why so many households can no longer operate on a single income. A family of 3 literally, it seems, can't live on $40,000/year unless they strategically do so. Before, it was normal to live on less than that, even when you factor inflation.
Part of the reason this happened was that women were at home raising the children and manually doing many of the household chores, while men earned the money. But then women, and for good reason, really made an effort to join the workforce. This is wonderful. But that left the same chores to be done around the house, only now, there wasn't anyone to do it. So enters technology to make it easier and faster.
The item I'm talking about for the purpose of this post is washers and dryers. We are trading the money for the time. In the old days, the washer was a basin, with a manual crank and wringer.
Other than purchasing the basin, it ran on human energy. If you go back even farther, no basin, just the river or lake. Nowadays, we only have to press a button. We pay for the washer, pay for the dryer, and then pay the electricity and water companies for every single time we use it. And because we have this awesome machine, there's no limit to the amount of stuff we can have now because all we have to do it load it and press a button. Amazing.
But what is this trade really worth? Okay, maybe less time spent doing that since both parents work, means more time spent with the kids. But why are we living just to pay for our stuff? And how much time does it really take to do it manually?
So I'm experimenting. For the last month, I've been hang drying all my laundry, then tossing it in the dryer for a 10min fluff. I've started with just the hang drying until I can get my hands on a manual old fashioned (still working) washing machine :) I'm experimenting with 2 things here. The first is our energy bill. It's summer so the electricity from the AC (and our poorly insulated house) skyrockets in summer. I want to see if we can get any savings from not using our electric dryer as much. The second is time. It really doesn't take long to go out back and hang up the clothes. Like 5 min. Then the sun dries them, and 5 more min bringing them inside. As you can see by the picture, I don't have a crazy big expansive yard. It's a tiny fenced in area. If I can do it, anyone should be able to.
What I've noticed so far-
ALL MY WHITE TOWELS NO LONGER HAVE THE MILDEW SMELL! I've been trying to get that smell out for FOREVER! I've used bleach, vinegar, specialty products, etc. I've heard the sun disinfects, and maybe that's true. They smell amazing.
The time taken to hang them and bring them inside is not a biggie at all.
I need more drying space.
Sheets come out softer.
I actually enjoy that it makes me go outside during the day.
Normally, I would dread it in this heat, but it's a nice break for me, and the sunshine is beautiful. You forget how the outdoors makes you feel as you get older. As a kid, I spent all my time outside, but the older I get, it seems the more I spend time inside, because it just so happens everything I have to do for work is inside.
Electricity Bill Update:
Wow! My electricity bill was a full $100 cheaper in comparison to the same month last year. That is amazing. And an expense completely worth the effort.
Go grab your clothespins and get to hang drying outside for your family and planet!