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spark joy glass bookcase konmari marie kondo

Does this glass bookcase spark joy?

By | clothing & accessories, home | One Comment

A few months ago I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book proposes a radical concept: touch every item you own, one by one, and ask yourself, “does this spark joy?” This is rule #1 in the KonMari method, a term Marie Kondo coined by combining parts of her first and last name.

Her book sparks joy for me. And it delivers on the promise in her title. It offers “life-changing magic.” It motivated me to start going through different categories of things in my home to find and keep only the things that spark joy. Kondo’s book inspired me to tidy up my clothes which were stuffed in a closet in my bedroom. Plus my office closet was full of dozens of jackets and coats, including many I hadn’t worn for years.

By the time I was done tidying up my clothes and jackets, all my favorite items fit into the bedroom closet. And it freed up a bunch of space in my office closet. I was now able to use this closet to store work-related things that spark joy.

In addition to tidying up my clothes, I also found the KonMari method useful in other categories of things I owned. I was so pleased with the results that I decided to tidy up our furniture. We had a number of pieces that were tolerable, but now I had this acute awareness that many of the pieces did not spark joy.

Because I enjoyed her first book so much, I bought her second book, Spark Joy, when I saw it at Recycle Bookstore in San Jose. I love buying books from them. Not only do they have great prices and selection, I love to visit with the resident cat.

Recycle Bookstore is a great place to buy and sell both used and new books

Recycle Bookstore is a great place to buy and sell both used and new books

As I started looking at all the furniture pieces in our home, I realized that some of them sparked joy, while others clearly did not. Kondo recommends going through things by category. So if you have a lot of books, which I do, you go around your home and collect all the books you have from every room and stack them up all in one place. And then you quickly go through them one by one keeping only those that spark joy.

I need to be honest here and let you know I cheated. I didn’t go around our house and collect all our furniture pieces and put them in one room. My husband is generally cooperative when I ask him to move heavy stuff, but this would have pushed him over the edge.

I did, however, take photos of a lot of our main pieces and put them in a Google photos folder where I could see the images all together. This also made it a lot easier when I was out shopping and wanted to visualize what something might look like in a particular location.

Does your furniture spark joy?

After taking a closer look at all the furniture throughout our home, I realized that we’d have a more joyful home if I made some changes.

Some of the pieces had to go, but some of them just needed a paint job or a new location within our home. I had a glass bookcase in our dining room, for example, that served as a nice display case for cookbooks and glassware, but I knew this space was underutilized.

What this dining room wall really needed was a buffet/hutch. It would make the entire room much more functional.

But this glass bookcase sparked joy for me and I didn’t want to get rid of it.

spark joy glass bookcase KonMari method Marie Kondo

this glass bookcase sparks joy for me, but the location does not

As I was taking stock of all our furniture, I started a wish list of what I wanted to get to make our home more comfortable. I decided which pieces sparked joy and would stay. And for all the pieces that didn’t spark joy, I thanked them for the purpose they served in my life, as Kondo recommends, and then I listed them on OfferUp and Craigslist.

One of the pieces on my wish list was a storage cabinet for the bedroom. I wanted something that was about 5 or 6′ tall, about 3′ wide, and no more than 12″ deep. I wanted a piece that could provide more storage for clothes in the bedroom. And I was hoping to find something white.

Ironically, I went to thrift shops, estate sales and used furniture shops, including Not Too Shabby, before realizing I already had the perfect piece! It was the glass bookcase in my dining room.

It turns out that this case was just the right shape and size. It fit all the requirements on my wish list for this piece, but I didn’t see it right away because I was so used to seeing it in my dining room.

chalk paint restoration illumination tami shabby chic spark joy

chalk paint is a great way to transform a piece of furniture

Another thing that clouded my vision from seeing this piece in our bedroom was the dark stain. I wanted something tranquil that would fade into the white walls. I wanted it to feel light, clean, serene.

Tami Shidawara-Vasquez is a talented artist and owner of Restoration Illumination. I met her after purchasing one of her pieces at Not Too Shabby. She enjoys projects like this where she can do her magic with Annie Sloan chalk paint and wax. She specializes in giving pieces a new look, and sometimes an entirely new purpose.

9 Ideas to Repurpose Junk Into Treasure

spark joy glass bookcase konmari marie kondo

Since reading Kondo’s books, I handle clothes differently. Now when I come across a clothing item I know I won’t wear again, I immediately set it aside to sell or donate. I typically try to sell things at Crossroads Trading first, and then donate the rest to Goodwill.

When I first read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I couldn’t put the book down. It kept me up half the night. And the same thing happened when I read Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.

Does it spark joy? It’s such a good question. What’s the point of hanging on to things you don’t love?

Because this bookcase has glass on the front and sides, it turned out to be a beautiful display case for sweaters. Not only does it provide extra storage for clothes, I can see many things in one glance. This makes it easier to get dressed. And because I already tidied up, now I’m searching for what style I want among items that spark joy. I’m no longer wasting time slipping in and out of things I wouldn’t wear anyway.

Finally, the glass on the sides allow the light from the window to shine through into the hallway. It seems that this piece was custom made for this spot, but accidentally got put in the wrong room when we moved in several months ago. When we take the time to slow down and appreciate everything and everyone in our lives, one by one, something magical happens. It’s enlightening.

spark joy glass bookcase KonMari method Marie Kondo shabby chic

glass bookcase repurposed into shabby chic clothing display case

Speaking of light, the curtains are still a work in progress. I hung blackout drapes so that my husband and I can sleep in the dark, but haven’t gotten around to tidying up the window treatments yet.

Tami suggested swapping out the hardware for glass knobs. This coordinates well with the existing glass knobs in the house, plus it adds a bit more character to the glass bookcase.

spark joy glass bookcase KonMari method Marie Kondo shabby chic restoration illumination

glass bookcase repurposed into clothing display case

The clothes add color to our bedroom while maintaining the peaceful feeling I want in this space. The clothes are much more comfortable in their new space. I’m so happy with how this piece turned out. The entire project, both inside and out, sparks joy for me! And my husband likes the improvement as well.

Although Kondo recommends folding most clothes into rectangular shapes and storing them upright, these bulky sweaters work well in this case since they’re in short stacks.

I’m so happy this lovely lady came into my life. Kondo’s tidying up methodology awakened me to a magical power from within.

People around the world are obsessed with the KonMari household decluttering method.

People around the world are obsessed with the KonMari household decluttering method.

Think for a moment about all the things you’re surrounded with in your daily life. Does this spark joy for you?

Kids’ laundry piling up? Wash clothes with love and logic.

By | clothing & accessories, laundry, parenting | No Comments

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by laundry or other household chores?

Yes?

Me too.

In 2000, I married my soulmate, a widower with five children between the ages of 8 and 16. My newlywed and I went on a two-week honeymoon.

Family and friends stayed with the kids as they went on about their daily routine of going to school, playing soccer, doing homework, taking baths and showers, and doing all the normal things that kids do to turn clean clothes into laundry.

When we returned, I remember seeing laundry everywhere. Tops and bottoms were garnishing the edges of the bedroom floors. Clothes and shoes were tangled on the floors in closets. Towels, socks and underwear were on the floor in the bathrooms. Jackets were draped over couches and chairs. Socks were stuffed between couch cushions.

A day or two later, I asked the three youngest kids (who were home at the time) to go around the house and collect all the clothes, socks, underwear, and towels and bring them to the family room. I’ll never forget that scene. With all the stuff collected from around the house, plus the laundry my newlywed and I accumulated before and during our trip, I was faced with the biggest pile of laundry I’d ever encountered.

The pile was several feet wide and several feet deep. I had never seen anything like it. I was sure that this equated to many hours of washing, drying, sorting, folding and distributing everything back to the right closets and drawers.

most-memorable-days-dirtiest-clothesMy husband didn’t know how to operate a washer or dryer. At that moment, I had a glimpse of what I had gotten myself into. I didn’t panic. I went into problem-solving mode.

I had several years of teaching experience so my teacher gears were spinning. I also had experience with construction project management, so I felt confident I could handle this lightweight crew.

Step 1: Get everyone excited and engaged. As I expected, they were open to playing along.

Step 2: Get everyone to help divide and conquer: jeans pile, dark pile, white pile, and so on.

They threw clothes at each other, sometimes aiming at the right piles. They made faces and said things like, “eww, stinky” while displaying a pair of underwear or socks. It was totally fun and entertaining. I fell in love with the kids. It was the beginning of the parenting honeymoon. From this moment on, our lives were never the same.

Step 3: Teach everyone how to add detergent and choose the right water temperature based on the colors.

Step 4: Patiently wait for wash load #1 to do its thing.

Step 5: Teach everyone how to use the dryer.

Step 6: Do it again and again and again and again . . .

This, as it turned out, would be just one of the many initiations I faced as I dove into the deep end of the parenting pool.

Some moms prefer to do their kids’ laundry for many years, into their teens and beyond. Others lean more toward empowering kids with know-how.

These opposing styles represent two sides of a broad and colorful parenting spectrum. One end fosters dependence and control while the other cultivates independence and freedom.

A simple chore, like how you handle laundry in your household, reveals a lot about your personality and values.

Although I hadn’t yet read their books, I would soon learn that my parenting style was in line with the principles taught by the Love and Logic Institute. I’m so thankful for Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay. Their words would later calm my nerves at times when I felt tested.

Years later, I can now look back and smile knowing that all the kids know how to do laundry and much, much more.

Choose natural fabrics over synthetics

By | clothing & accessories, Sleep | 3 Comments

A man in San Francisco was recently arrested for stealing thousands of pairs of polyester underwear. When asked why he was doing this to people, he said that he was trying to save their butts. His attorney later commented that due to his client’s good intentions, he was expecting a brief trial. RD

Julie Genser, Planet Thrive blogger, lives in a small Arizona community with others who have environmental intolerances. Their bodies can’t handle the load of toxins in “normal” towns, buildings and even in their underwear. Cotton is one of the few fabrics tolerated by chemically sensitive individuals like Julie. Some people are so extremely sensitive that they need to boil the cotton and air it out for weeks to sanitize it before they can wear it. And some people are so sensitive they can’t even wear cotton clothing if it’s made with synthetic thread! Allergista

But why does this matter to you? If synthetic fabrics can have such a negative impact on some people, this may be a sign that natural fabrics are better for all of us. Your skin is porous. Have you ever had poison ivy or felt your hands burning after cutting hot chili pepper? If so, you understand that what touches your skin can affect you.

Synergy cotton organic cape jacket

Many people are careful about the foods they eat and the cleaning products they use. But you can also minimize your potential exposure to toxins by paying more attention to the fabrics that touch your skin. Whether you’re choosing clothes, bed linens, blankets or towels, look for items made from natural fabrics.

Cotton is the most popular fabric in the world.

Cotton comes in a variety of forms: chintz, corduroy, denim, flannel, khaki, Pima. Because cotton is soft, comfortable, durable, and washable, it’s used for just about every type of clothing.

If you live in a warm climate, you can build the majority of your wardrobe around cotton. When it’s too hot or humid, avoid wearing denim or corduroy. The thicker fabric doesn’t breathe as well and if you wash them and hang them to dry, they can take a day or two to dry.

Laundry Study Shows Americans Have Few Hangups

If you’re interested in adding more cotton to your wardrobe, check out companies that specialize in eco-friendly organic cotton such as SynergyEarth CreationsFaerie’s Dance, or H&M (Hennes & Mauritz AB), or check out EcoSites.org to find more.

Linen is synonymous with wrinkles.

No matter how well you press linen (flax), it creases as soon as you wear it. But like cotton, it’s cool and breathes well. If you don’t mind the crinkling, it’s a fabulous fabric for warmer climates. Although linen is great for casual activities, it’s not necessarily a good choice for business. If you want a softer look, launder it yourself and skip the ironing and dry cleaning.

Check out this clip from Renegade Health on the benefits of organic clothing . . .

Hemp is a renewable resource.

Hemp can grow in various climates and conditions around the world. In many cases, hemp and cotton can be grown without pesticides. This helps reduce toxins that end up in our water supplies, so it’s healthier for everyone involved: the farmers, textile workers and customers.

If you’d like to learn more about the many benefits and uses of hemp, take a virtual visit of the US Hemp Museum. According to this nonprofit, “hemp is, overall, the strongest, most durable long-lasting natural soft fiber on earth.”

Look through the many beautiful styles available at GramicciEarth Creations, Hempest or Rawganique.

Wool can keep you warm even when it’s wet.

Wool (Alpaca, Angora, cashmere, Mohair, rabbit) is relatively easy to spot-clean. It’s good for activities in cool humid or wet areas because its natural antibacterial properties help it resist moisture and mold. It also has superior strength and durability over other natural fabrics.

dry cleaning wool sheepBut wool has some disadvantages. First, it requires extra care and attention. Some pieces have to be dry cleaned, and others have to be washed in cold water, or they can shrink drastically. Second, wool has a beastly odor when it’s wet. If you wash and hang-dry a wool sweater indoors, it may smell for a day or two. Third, the texture of wool can be irritating to some. Wool tends to be bulkier than other fabrics, so it takes up more closet or suitcase space.

If you find wool irritating, avoid wearing it directly on your skin. Layer other clothes under your wool pieces, or try softer cashmere or angora wools instead. You may also find that lined suits or jackets that are wool blends may also be easier to tolerate than things made with 100% wool.

One good thing about wool is that it’s a renewable product, and the animals aren’t harmed in the process. But according to the Organic Trade Association, insecticides are applied to sheep to control mites, lice, flies and other pests. In addition, antibiotics are used for growth promotion to compensate for unhealthy overcrowded conditions, which contaminates nearby water.

Silk is smooth and soft without being slippery.

Because it drapes well and helps keep warm air near the body, silk is often used for scarves, blouses, dresses, suits, lingerie and pajamas. It’s comfortable, but not as durable as other natural fibers. If you get a spot on silk it can be tricky to clean, especially when you’re traveling. Some pieces require dry cleaning. If you launder it yourself you may need to use a steamer to get the wrinkles out or carefully press it with a warm iron. Otherwise you may damage the fabric. Many silk items can be fairly high maintenance, and therefore, are not necessarily ideal everyday use or travel.

Silks (chiffons) are produced by insects such as mulberry silkworms and moth caterpillars. When it’s harvested from cocoons, it kills the larvae, so some people who avoid it because “thousands of silkworms are killed just to make a small amount of material.” NGE

If you love silk, consider buying from a company who takes these things into consideration, like The Ethical Silk Company.

Leather can grow in comfort and beauty as it ages.  

When you first buy a leather product, it may be bulky, stiff or heavy, but it usually becomes more comfortable the more you wear it. If you have a favorite jacket, purse or boots you like to travel with, consider wearing them if you’re going by plane. Otherwise, you’ll need extra space in your luggage. Unless you’re traveling by motorcycle, leave your bulky chaps, leather bags and pants at home.

Leathers and suedes can stain easily and be tough, if not impossible, to clean. It can also be difficult to layer with other clothes (with the exception of belts) and, therefore, isn’t nearly as versatile as other fabrics.

Lots of shoes are made with leather because it’s a durable and warm material. If you’re expecting to use them in rain or snow, it’s best to waterproof them. Use a nontoxic product such as Bee Natural or Obenauf’s.

Leather is made from the skin of various animals: buckskin (usually deer, moose or elk), nubuck (cattle), suede (usually lamb, but sometimes goat, calf or deer) or lambskin. Because leathers are animal products, some vegans and animal-lovers avoid it.

Although leather is a “natural” fiber, the tanning process involves the use of many chemicals, some of which have a negative impact on workers and the environment. Every year, millions of cows, pigs, deer, lamb, and other animals are slaughtered for food. Their skin is be a byproduct of that industry. If you’re concerned about the welfare of animals, or the impact of the tanning process on the environment, you may choose to minimize the amount of leather (and meat) you purchase.

Natural Fabrics logo brownAll-natural fabrics are the safest option for your health. Natural fibers breathe and wick moisture better than synthetics. Even though they may be treated with pesticides and contain dyes and fixatives, they generally have fewer hazardous additives than synthetics.

If you want to be extra cautious, choose fabrics made from organic fibers which were grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers or toxic herbicides and pesticides. But keep in mind that even they go through chemical processing before they become fabric.

If you’re interested in buying all-natural clothing like these, or others such as bamboo, check out Gaiam or Sweetgrass.

As you begin to transition to more natural fibers, begin with the things that are closest to your skin most of the time. For most people, this begins with underwear, basic tops and bottoms and pajamas or sheets.

If you happen to work in the medical field, check out the uniforms by Natural Fabrics. People who work in this industry are so lucky. Their work is called “practice” and they get to wear pajamas all day. Well, scrubs aren’t pajamas, but they’re just as comfortable.

Organic Consumers Association

11 Equipment Essentials for Easy Everyday Exercises

By | Biking, clothing & accessories, cooking, gardening, laundry, longevity | 2 Comments

It’s easy to fall into a sedentary lifestyle, especially if you rely on a car to get around. But don’t worry, you don’t need to go out and buy expensive equipment to become more active. There are countless ways you can assimilate more activities into your daily life. It’s best to introduce small changes over time. You don’t need to go out of your way to exercise or go to the gym. There are many alternatives that are much more practical.

people walking

72-year-old Phil Woods is on a 2,700-mile mission (25 miles/day) to inspire older adults to walk more

Why exercise anyway? Many centenarians have spent decades doing activities that keep them up and moving around on a daily basis. But the activities not necessarily strenuous in the way you may think. You don’t need to join a gym or participate in a team sport in order to exercise.

Many centenarians were relatively poor for part or most of their lives. Many of them did, and still do, rely on walking, biking, or public transportation as their main mode of transportation. Some were farmers or laborers. Others have never worked outside the home, but raising a family, cooking, cleaning, gardening or participating in community activities have kept them moving around day after day for many decades. These activities are surprisingly simple, but profoundly beneficial over time.

Here are 11 equipment essentials that can help you live a more active lifestyle:

1. Walking shoes. A good pair of comfortable shoes is one of the most valuable investments you can make in your health. Walking is especially important if you work at a computer or have a desk job where you sit for numerous hours each day. Your body tenses up if you sit in one place for too long. If necessary, set a reminder alarm to go off every 30 minutes or so and get up to walk around and stretch. If possible, take a few breaks throughout the day to walk for 15 minutes or more. If possible, go for a brisk walk during lunch and after work. If you want to increase the intensity of your walk, pick up your speed and jog or run for part of the time. Women especially need to be reminded to wear comfortable walking shoes as often as possible. KEEN has lots of great choices on boots, shoes and sandals. High heels may be ok for some special occasions, but as these models demonstrate, heels are not appropriate attire for walking. Here’s why . . .



2. Broom. Sweep your floors. Clean your home. The next time you feel annoyed by the fact that cleaning is one of those jobs that never ends, think about some of the benefits. Be thankful for your home and the fact that you have the mobility to keep it clean. When you clean your home, you have opportunities to kneel down to clean things on or near the floor, lift buckets full of water, and stretch upwards while cleaning door trim or vents. Why pay for a membership to a sweaty gym when you can workout for free in your own home? Do cleaning exercises instead.

3. Drying Rack. When you hang your laundry up to dry, you get more exercise than you do when you toss everything in the dryer, especially if you’re bending over to lift items from a laundry basket and reaching up to a clothesline. By hanging your clothes up to dry, you reap numerous benefits. Washers and dryers increase the wear and tear on your clothes. When your clothes aren’t soiled, use the gentle cycle on your washer and skip the dryer. This also helps to cut back on your electric bill. The less time your clothes spend in the dryer, the better. Laundry exercises are much more practical than the bending and stretching exercises you do in an aerobics class.

Laundry Study Shows Americans Have Few Hangups

4. Music. People go to Zumba, in part, because they can feed off the energy of the music and the people around them. But you don’t need to go to an exercise class to listen to music that energizes you. Download some workout songs that you like and listen to them often, like when you’re cleaning your house or hanging up clothes. When you wear headsets, not only do you cut off other people, but you may even put yourself in danger if you’re out walking and don’t hear the honk of a car. Use them cautiously.

man walking up stairs5. Stairs. Whenever possible, use stairs and escalators instead of elevators. Even if an escalator is moving, you can use it like a staircase. Keep walking. If people are in front of you, excuse yourself and ask if you can pass by. In many cases, escalators give you a little extra exercise because the rise is typically a bit higher than standard steps. The best part about stairs is that you don’t have to pay for them. If you get out on a regular basis, you’ll find staircases in many places.

6. Cast Iron Cookware. Trade in your teflon and aluminum pans for cast iron. Cast iron pots, pans and muffin tins typically weigh a few pounds. So you get a mini workout every time you lift them, rinse them out or store them in your cabinets. Teflon and aluminum add toxins to your food, so it’s better to avoid them anyway. When you cook at home you have a much better idea of what you’re eating. So remember that it’s not enough to just buy cast iron cookware. You also need to get into the daily habit of cooking healthy meals at home in order to benefit. My kitchen is well stocked with Lodge Cast Iron Cookware. I pump iron every day.

7. Bike. The bike is one of the most efficient forms of transportation. Not only is it a great way to get around, it’s also good for you. Why buy a stationery bike that doesn’t go anywhere when you can buy a real bike that can take you places? By biking more you may be able to save money by using your car less. Be sure to get a bike that suits your size so you’ll be comfortable and safe when you ride. As you find more ways to use your bike, you might want to add some accessories, such as lights, a basket or a rear mount bike rack, so that you’ll use it more often. I love my Wald basket and bungee cargo net combination for quick errands. Bike riding helps you maintain balance and endurance. If you want a cardio workout, ride your bike in a hilly area or pedal faster. Remember to wear a helmet and a good pair of biking gloves.

8. Public Transportation Pass. People who rely on public transportation are more likely to walk more. If you own a car, do what you can to rely on it less and less over time. If you don’t live near a public transportation stop, consider driving to a commuter parking lot and finishing your commute on public transportation. If this isn’t practical, you may be able to find other ways to use public transportation. When you plan trips, look into your options of traveling by bus, train or plane instead of taking your own car. Next time you travel, see if you can manage your trip without renting a car. The less you rely on a car, the more active you’ll tend to be. ClipperCard

This CAR Game Will Drive You Crazy

old man woman gardening9. Trowel. Grow your own vegetables. Gardening helps you connect with nature and it has the added benefit of supplying you with of food. Even if you don’t have a yard, you can use a trowel to do basic gardening with potted plants. When you have plants inside or outside your home, you’ll get a little more exercise as you water them, repot them from time to time and swap them around to different locations in your home. If you have access to a balcony, porch or yard, you can grow more and get more exercise as you kneel down to do some weeding or bend over to cut clippings from your herb plants.

10. Sportswear. Wear comfortable sports attire as often as possible. This makes it easier for you to stretch and flex. Do more of this every day. If you get any resistance at all, you want it to come from your muscles, not your clothing. Depending on the type of work you do, you may be able to find lots of great sportswear that can double as casual wear for work. This makes it easier for you to walk, bike or stretch before, during or after work. Columbia Sportswear

11. Water bottle. As you increase your physical activity, make sure you stay hydrated with water. Avoid all drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup. If you head out for a walk, take a large water bottle with you. Fill it with water or a fresh juice drink. Drinking some extra water or fruit juice is a great way to flush your body and curb your appetite.

Drink Distilled Water to Detox and Defend Your Body

You don’t necessarily need to make these specific changes to your lifestyle. What is important is that you think about the simple things in your daily routine and, over time, make minor changes to incorporate more activity. Seek activities you enjoy. If it isn’t fun or rewarding in some way, it will be difficult to maintain anyway. As you find ways to be more active every day, you’ll find that there really is no need for you to do something silly like run on a treadmill in your garage.

Although running, weight lifting, or high-impact sports may be good for your heart, they tend to be damaging to your knees or other body parts that get overused. Most centenarians report that they were active throughout their lives, but typically not in highly strenuous activities. They’re more likely to work out in their garden than in a gym. They’re more likely to be walkers than runners.

Some people are so lazy, they don’t even exercise good judgment. Alfred E Neuman

Seek ways to add practical activities to your lifestyle. The more movement you incorporate into your daily life, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Active living every day is much better for you than irregular binge workouts a few times a month.

Alliance for Biking & Walking logo

Michael Mobbs offers 9 tips for a more sustainable home

By | authors, books, eating, gardening, health, laundry | One Comment

Would you like to cut your living expenses in half without giving up modern luxuries? Me too. That’s why I wanted to meet Michael Mobbs and see his home that’s (almost) off the grid in the heart of a big city. On a recent trip to Sydney, I had the opportunity to meet with Mobbs and get a private tour of his Sustainable Home. Here’s what I learned . . .

SusHouseCover2print.inddSince 1996 Michael Mobbs has lived in a unique house in the center of Sydney, Australia. If you rode by on your bike, you wouldn’t notice anything different from the outside. Only a plumber or electrician working on the inside would know the difference. With three other house friends, Mobbs’ total annual water and energy bills are less than $300 AU or about $280 US. His three bedroom home is about a 40 minute walk from the Sydney Opera House.

He has solar panels on his roof. The electric company sends him a check to pay for the clean solar electricity he puts into their main grid lines.

In 1996 he disconnected the water and sewer. He uses rain water that falls on his roof in place of tap water. He treats his own water that flows from his toilets, washing machine and kitchen sink. The system recycles the water back into the house. He uses the recycled water to flush the toilets, wash clothes and hose his beautiful backyard garden. He doesn’t pay any water or sewer bills. In his book, he describes how the simple wastewater system works.

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Michael Mobbs Sustainable Home backyard water treatment garden

The house is still connected to gas. The annual bill is about $200 US.

“I’m not special, kinda short, have no handy skills and can barely drive a nail. If I can do it, you can too,” says Mobbs.

Even if you do own a home, you may not be ready to generate your own electricity and collect and process your own water. But you can begin with smaller projects. I asked Michael for some tips that almost anyone could apply regardless of where they live. Here are some of his recommendations on how to save money even if you’re renting an apartment.

1. When one of your lights goes out, replace it with an LED bulb. LED lights are much more efficient.

2. Paint interior walls shades of white. This also applies to outdoor areas, such as fences. White reflects light back into your rooms. Avoid dark carpet, walls or furniture. Black eats light while pale colors bounce it around.

Sustainable.House 039

Michael Mobbs Sustainable House

3. Install a water efficient shower head. You can take it with you if you move. It saves the energy that it takes to make the water hot and it also cuts down on your water usage. It can save over 15,000 gallons of water a year in a four-person household. This is especially important if you have one or more people in your household who take long showers. Even if you take short showers, you can relax knowing that the same amount of time will cost less.

4. Get a water and energy efficient dishwasher and washing machine. This can knock up to 50% off your energy and water bills. Efficient ones will use about 10-20% of what the standard guzzlers use.

Laundry Study Shows Americans Have Few Hangups

5. Get the most energy efficient refrigerator possible. It runs 24/7 and is typically the biggest energy-using appliance in your home.

6. Catch rain water if you can. You can use it to water your indoor and outdoor plants. You may be able to do this even if you’re in an apartment and only have access to a small balcony.

SusHouseCover2print.indd7. Grow food you can eat. Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can grow mint, garlic, rosemary, lemongrass and other plants suitable for indoor environments or small spaces on balconies. Grow mung beans for your salads in a glass jar on your window sills. Get involved with a community garden if there’s one in your neighborhood. If you have too much of one type of food, swap surplus food with other gardeners.

8. Buy food from your local farmers markets. Fresh produce is always healthier and more nutritious than the store-bought refrigerated stuff.

9. Compost fruit and vegetable scraps to make soil for your pots and/or garden. Even if you don’t have a lot of space you can add worms to your compost and they will turn it into fertile black gold (dirt) in 1-3 months.

Mobbs says a modest meal which includes a small portion of meat puts a much greater strain on the environment than a meal that’s fully vegetarian. We need to think about our overall impact on the environment even outside our homes.

“The energy and water needed to keep me alive is about 20-40 times greater than the energy and water needed to run my house. Yes, my house saves over 100,000 liters (about 20,000 gallons) of dam water a year by harvesting the water which falls for free using the natural stormy energy of the skies. But in ten days of eating the typical Australian diet, there’s over 100,000 liters of water needed to grow, harvest, clean, store, package, transport and refrigerate my food. My little tummy uses far more water and energy than my house,” says Mobbs.

Michael Mobbs Sustainable House with Lorraine

Dr Lorraine Haataia with Michael Mobbs in front of his Sustainable House in Sydney, Australia

The costs, designs, products, materials, tragedies, mistakes, truths, and failures of his house and tummy are spelled out in his two books: Sustainable House and Sustainable Food.

“Plug the leaks in your home. When you take steps to reduce your living expenses and environmental impact, you may ultimately reduce your financial stress and have the chance to invest in new opportunities with the money you save,” Mobbs says.

A few years ago my husband and I traded in our big suburban home with a 3-car garage for smaller living quarters. This freed up both time and money giving us the opportunity travel to places like Sydney.

The next time you’re in Sydney, be sure to tour Michael Mobbs’ Sustainable House or see the scaled down version of his home at the Powerhouse Museum near Darling Harbour.

In the introduction of his Sustainable Homes book, Mobbs offers some of the key lessons he learned through the decisions he made with his own home. If you aspire to create a more sustainable home, look for others in your community who are making changes in their homes and lifestyles. You’ll get there much quicker if you share your challenges, successes and fears with them.

Steven Wright recently moved into an all electric house. One evening he forgot to turn off the lights before he went to sleep. When he woke up in the morning to let his dog out to pee, the front door wouldn’t work. 

Take a look at this candid interview with Mobbs as he explains how he handles some of the resistance he faces as a positive change-maker doing things that seem perfectly logical. His advises everyone to have the courage to say, “I can do this.”

It’s helpful when your cohorts share common factors such as weather, jurisdictions and local suppliers. And even better if they have some professional experience that might help to expedite projects. Mobbs happens to be an environmental lawyer by trade. In 2009, The (Sydney) Magazine listed Mobbs as one of Sydney’s 100 most influential people. See the About Michael page on the Sustainable House website to learn more about him.

 Build It Green logo

 

What if You Come Down (to Earth) With Symptoms of Sustainability?

By | Biking, BUSINESS, gardening, healthcare, laundry, NONPROFITS, Pets, restrooms | No Comments

If you or someone you know has some of the following symptoms, you may be coming down (to earth) with sustainability. It can be contagious, but some people have strong resistance. Scientists believe that it may have something to do with a jean mutation. The jeans can be modified or removed, but some people don’t like to change because they’re comfortable just the way they are.

Sustainable World PeopleJust as a person who has obesity may begin to rely on a wheelchair to get around, a person who has sustainability may begin to rely on a bicycle to get around. Physical and mental conditions shape the surrounding environment.

Although some people feel uneasy about sustainability at first, they quickly begin to adapt to the condition. Some people do really crazy things like take up gardening or sell their cars. Once you catch sustainability, don’t be surprised if people with the mutated jeans call you crazy.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with sustainability, it’s helpful to join a support group with like-minded people who prefer trees over traffic and borrowing over buying. As the symptoms of sustainability increase, you may fall deeper into a wishful state of Utopia-euphoria wanting more people to contract your enthusiasm. Webweaver Earth

Here are some of the symptoms of sustainability:

Air. You go to parks and into the forest where the air is fresh and trees are plentiful. AIRNow

Banking. You closed your bank account and opened an account at a local credit union. Credit Union National Association

Whenever you go near a bank, you get withdrawal symptoms. PunOfTheDay

Bathroom. Your bathroom has a window which provides natural light and ventilation. American Restroom Association

Why are environmentalists bad at playing poker? They avoid the flush. Jokes4Us

Biking. Your bicycle is one of your main modes of transportation. People For Bikes

This CAR Game Will Drive You Crazy

Charities. You give generously to a local nonprofit or faith-based organization and they give back to the community. Charity Navigator

Cooperation. You quit your corporate job to work for a co-op. National Cooperative Business Association

Energy. Your home is drawing power from renewable energy sources. Renewable Energy World

Food. You have access to organic fruits and vegetables within walking distance of your home. GMO Inside

Gardening. You have fun working together with your neighbors in the community garden. American Community Gardening Association

Healthcare. You have access to affordable healthcare. Michael Moore’s Health Care Proposal

Housing. Your home is affordable and you help others who need housing. Habitat for Humanity

Laundry. You hang your laundry out to dry. Project Laundry List

Laundry Study Shows Americans Have Few Hangups 

Leaders. You’re a good communicator and leader. Toastmasters

Library. You enjoy going to your local library on a regular basis.

Lighting. The sun is your main source of light all day. VELUX

Music. You hear nature sounds or appropriate tunes that enhance your home, workplace and other public spaces. American Music Therapy Association

Names. You’re on a first-name basis with your neighbors and workers in local businesses. NeighborWorks

Organics. You buy organic foods in the local farmer’s market and grocery stores. CCOF

Outdoors. Your home and workplace outdoor spaces are green and welcoming. Alliance for Community Trees

What did the activist get when he sat on the iceberg too long? Polaroids. Jokes4Us

People. You treat everyone with respect, regardless of their age, race or social status. Grassroots International

Pets. You often take your dog along wherever you go. Go Pet Friendly

Plantscaping. You have plenty of indoor plants. Plantscape Industry Alliance

Prevention. Your healthcare provider incentivizes doctors for prevention. American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Why We Need to Do Doctor Reviews on Our Last Doctors’ Visits

Recycling. You have a donate box, a recycle bin and a compost pile, but you don’t have a garbage can. SCARCE

Sustainable Communities IndexSalary. Your boss doesn’t make too much more than you or your colleagues. Salary

Schools. Your kids attend schools which teach them how to create a sustainable future for themselves and the community. Edible Schoolyard

Seeds. You trade seeds and plants with your neighbors. Seed Savers

Sharing. You borrow stuff and lend a hand. mesh

Steps. The staircase in your workplace is more attractive than the elevator. StairPorn

Your Best Excuse for Not Going to the Gym

Students. Your kids are participating in solving real issues in the community. Youth Service America

Transportation. Your community is investing heavily in public transportation, bikeways, sidewalks and pathways. American Public Transportation Association

Volunteers. Your neighbors are engaged in making the community a better place to live. Volunteer Match

Water. Your drinking water is pure and safe. Local waterways are full of healthy marine life.  American Water Works Association

Weight. You’re healthy, not malnourished or obese. Weight of the Nation

Sick of Diets? Film Diet Plan Will Help You Escape the Fat Trap

Work. It’s easy for you to find work opportunities near home. Smart Growth America

If you’re experiencing several of these symptoms, stay calm. If you generate too much excitement, the zombie police with mutated jeans may try to attack. They are known to be mindlessly unreasonable, doing raids on people who sell fruits and vegetables, for example. Check out this raid on an organic food store in California.

Zombie Police - resident evil

What’s the difference between zombies and patched jeans?

Zombies are dead men. Jeans are mended. JokeIndex

If you or your loved ones are coming down (to earth) with sustainability, the best thing you can do is band together with other level-headed people and come up with a smart plan to protect yourselves in the event of a random zombie invasion.

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Halloween Costume Ideas for Green-Blooded People

By | clothing & accessories, holidays | One Comment

watermelon helmet (1)If you see a young lady busting out of a tight shirt that says, “GUESS” on it, what comes to your mind? ThinkNiceBe careful about expecting people to guess who you are. They might come up with answers you don’t like. Halloween is the best time of year to let people know who you are and what you stand for.

Have you ever spent too much time and money pulling together a costume you wore for just a few hours? Or procrastinated and ended up with a lame costume you put together at the last minute? Not this year! You can come up with great Halloween costume ideas quickly and easily if you follow one simple rule: be yourself.

It’s no fun to go to a party trying to be someone you aren’t. Too many people are stuck in this trap in real life. Don’t make the same mistake at Halloween. We play many roles in life. There’s no need to work hard at being a fake when you can have fun being real. Here are seven ways you can enjoy Halloween simply by being you.

1. Find new friends who share your hobby.

Fisherman. Remember the good advice your mother taught you about teaching a man to fish. If you cook a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you get rid of him for the whole weekend. Jokes4Us. If you already have a pole, a fishing vest, some boots and a hat, that’s about all you need. For some extra effect, you can show up with some fish on ice in a cooler. Be prepared to tell your friends about the dangers of eating farmed fish  and the importance of checking Seafood Watch to know your best choices and good alternatives. American Fisheries Society

Happy Camper. Gather up some of your camping gear and tell everyone the benefits of camping. Nature is peaceful, the air is fresh, and the sex is intents! MBCB. Everyone likes a happy camper. Camping World

Hiker. Like to wander through redwoods or go out into the wilderness to climb mountains? Put on your hiking outfit complete with backpack, water bottle, hiking boots, hat and mosquito wear. Tell everyone to take a hike! American Hiking Society

Skeleton. Do you play an instrument? Take your guitar and tell people you lost your tromBONE. American Music Therapy Association

2. Promote a cause you believe in.

Black Cat or Dog. Be the life of the party. Wear a dog T-shirt or mask. After everyone arrives at the party, sit down in the middle of the living room floor and lick your thighs. After you’re all cleaned up, mingle among the crowd on your hands and knees sniffing people’s crotches. Did you know that black cats and dogs are more likely to be euthanized than others? Save a life, adopt a black cat. There’s no reason to fear black cats unless you’re a mouse. Use Halloween as an opportunity to encourage your friends to adopt a pet from the Humane Society. It’s easy to put together this costume. You probably already have some black pants and a long-sleeve black top. Pin a tail to the back of your pants and attach some ears to a headband. Use eyeliner to draw some whiskers on your cheeks.

Breastfeeding Mom. We all know that breastfed babies suck, but not everyone knows that they’re healthier and possibly even smarter. Don’t wait for World Breastfeeding Week to come around to promote the benefits of breastfeeding. Be a mummy. Take your baby or a big baby doll and a blanket, and keep both of them close to your chest. Breastfeeding Magazine 

Homeless Person. Got a heart for the homeless? If you’re an active person, go as dumpster diver. Ask to borrow a grocery cart from your local grocery such as Trader Joe’sWhole Foods Market or some other organic grocer. Load your cart with bags full of plastic and glass. If you don’t want to be active, sit near the door shaking a cup with some coins and ask everyone for money as they go in or out. Give the money to a local homeless shelter. Whatever you do, don’t tell any knock knock jokes. Do you talk to Invisible People?

Recycle Bin. Tell everyone you aspire to be a recycle truck driver because, as your son assures you, they only work one day a week. Jokes4Us. Wear recycle bin green or blue. Get some posterboard in the same color. Use white letters to show what you recycle: glass or plastic, for example. Earth 911

Tree. Know how trees get on the internet? They log in. TB. Trees provide many benefits for people and the planet. Wear a green top with brown pants or a long skirt. Top it off with a green hat. Pin some green leaves to your hat and shirt. If you’re a financial planner, pin dollars to your shirt and be a money tree. Tell everyone to plant their dollars in an investment so they can watch them grow.  Arbor Day Foundation

Toastmaster. People fear public speaking more than they fear death. Many people would rather be the one in the casket instead of the one giving the eulogy. If your doctor has already told you that you only have one year to live, tell him you can’t pay your bill and he’ll give you another year. Go as a politician or famous speaker and tell people that you have the cure for podiumphobia. JOL. Toastmasters gives members a chance to practice their leadership and communication skills while helping them to overcome fears and develop confidence.

3. Be someone you admire.

Monk or Laughing Buddha. This is a good costume for someone who’s recently been wiped out by a divorce or loss of a job. Things are not what they seem, nor are they otherwise. MrJam. Monks give up their secular lives. Tell people that you’ve been wanting  to give up your worldly possessions in exchange for a more meaningful life. Wear a bald cap and wrap yourself up in a red, orange, yellow or brown sheet. Shoe up in flip flops. Money Management International

Patch Adams. He put his medical degree on the line because he believed in treating sick people not only with medicine, but also with kindness and humor. You can pull together a basic Patch Adams outfit with some scrubs and a red nose. If you really want to go all out, use some bed pans for shoes. “The reason adults should look as though they are having fun is to give kids a reason to want to grow up.” Patch Adams Gesundheit Institute

Pope Francis. He’s says that the Church and Christians must strip themselves of worldliness. To be the pope, you need a simple white outfit, a white beanie cap and a big cross necklace. Many want to serve God, but only as advisors. TAG. When you aren’t smiling and waving, remember to keep your hands in a prayer position. Bring along a wash basin and a bar of soap so you can wash people’s feet. It’s a feet treat. Official Vatican Network

4. Be confident with who you are.

Bald Guy or Gal. If you’re bald or balding, go as a famous bald person. Or wear a bald cap if necessary. Be Pitbull. Wear a black outfit and sunglasses. Take several copies of his Global Warming album to pass out as treats and be prepared to give your friends tips on how to stop global warming. Go as Michael Pollan. Remember to bring books to sign. Go as Dr. Phil and give out good advice such as, “you’re only lonely if you’re not there for you.” Go as Seal to drum up awareness of lupus. Hand out roses and kisses. Go as Gail Porter to bring awareness to mental illness or alopecia. Bald people save energy. They don’t have to wash or dry their hair. Go Sly Bald Guys!

Indians

Lorraine & Bob

Hulk. This is a great costume for a big guy. You only need a pair of old tight pants and a tight top. Chop away at the hemline and sleeves to make them looked ragged in a Flintstone kind of way. Use a little Elmer’s glue to make your hair look messy. Paint your body green. For more ideas about the Hulk and the world’s strongest man, see Your Best Excuse for Not Going to the Gym.

Indian. My husband is part Chinook Indian. When he asked me to marry him I didn’t hesitate. He told me that anytime I needed a break, we could always fall back on reservations. This was important to me because he has an exceptionally large pow-wow. Association on American Indian Affairs

Mimimalist. This is the all-time easiest costume. You only need a few items, a plain top and a bottom, or a simple dress for a lady. Skip the underwear and be sure to tell everyone how they can simplify their lives too. Who needs underwear when you’re wearing pants? You have to admit, it’s a bit excessive. Go barefoot. Minimalists are easy on the planet. Becoming Minimalist

5. Share your secret to good health.

Farmer’s Market Shopper. They’re honest people. You have to be when potatoes have eyes and corn has ears. EL. If you regularly shop at your local farmer’s market, it’s “normal” for you to see friendly people with their carts and baskets loaded up with fruits and vegetables, toting their dogs and kids in strollers. Accessorize with sunglasses and a shirt with a green message.Too many kids today mistakenly think that food comes from warehouses, boxes, bags and cans. Farmers Market Coalition

Fruit or Vegetable. It’s best to choose a vegetable that suits your body shape. Be brave, ask a friend or your spouse which one suits you best: asparagus, banana, carrot, corn,red hot chili pepper, sweet potato, or something else. Wear the appropriate colors and carry a plateful of snacks with you as an appetizer. Mingle among the crowd asking, “would you like to taste me?” Come prepared to tell everyone why they should buy organic. Organic Consumers

Green Giant. He’s a giant and he’s green on the outside, but not on the inside. Green Giant appears to have a good goal–to grow vegetables. But be cautious of this green monster who produces GMO vegetables sprayed with pesticides. Dress up as the Green Giant monster and warn your friends about the dangers of GMOs. Avoid Green Giant GMOs 

Scarecrow. Only in America do people order a double cheeseburger, large fries and a diet coke. EHLW. If more people knew what they were really eating, they’d be scared. Scarecrows are vogue this year. Millions have tuned in to watch The Scarecrow.

6. Exaggerate your work outfit.

Medical Professional. If you work in the medical profession, you may not think about wearing your scrubs, but you should. You’ll certainly generate fear in some people, especially if you show up with accessories such as a (plastic) scalpel or some (fake) needles and cotton. Follow Dr. Mercola for tips on staying healthy on your own.

Librarian. You have to make tough decisions when you’re a librarian. If a man is checking out a book on suffocation, for example, should you offer him a bag? FJ. Pick up an armload of books and put on some reading glasses. Walk around with your index finger over your lips, reminding everyone about the benefits of quiet reading time. Ssshhhuuussh. American Library Association

Teacher. Know what happens if you have a vampire for a teacher? You have to take a lot of blood tests. BL Be creative. If you teach biology, bring a platter of cheese with a dissected mouse spread out in the middle. If you’re a social studies teacher, take a globe showing borders but no country names. Tell your students they’ll get a treat if they guess the name of a country you point to. You won’t have to give out too many treats. Educators for Social Responsibility

7. Get moving.

Biker. Bicycling is the most energy-efficient form of transportation on the planet. Want to know the biker’s secret to good health? Work to ride and ride to work. TXW. If you don’t already have a bike, use your Halloween costume as your excuse to buy one. If you have one you haven’t used in a while, dust it off and pump up the tires. Buy a bright fluorescent Halloween orange biker outfit and a black helmet. Not only will you be safer on the road, you’ll have some great new gear that you can use yearround. Be a biker babe or dude for real. People For Bikes

Bus Driver. Drivers have a tough job. “Two blonds got on the bus yesterday,” my friend told me. “The first asked if this bus would take her to 5th Avenue. Sorry, no it won’t, I told her.  The second blond smiled and said, will it take me?” MWIJIf you’re a public transportation worker, you’re an environmental hero! National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates

Carpooler. Have you heard about the blond carpool group? They meet at work. Anvari. Go to the Halloween party with a few carpool buddies and tell everyone the advantages: saving money on fuel and car repairs, growing friendships, and arriving faster by using the carpool lane.  Check out eRideShare to find some carpool buddies. If a cop ever pulls you over in the carpool lane because he doesn’t see anyone in the car with you, tell him to check your trunk. As he heads toward the back of your car, drive away fast. CC.

Hitchhiker. Hitchhiking helps to save the planet. Make a sign to show where you want to go: SalemIntercourseTruth or ConsequencesElephant Butte Inn, or Why. Add other important notes such as “freshly showered,” or  “off parole, ready to roll.” If you’d like some tips, read HitchWiki or Safe Hitchhiker’s Guide by Ren Tacar CT. Thumbs up to hitchhiking!

Traveler. Dust off a suitcase with wheels. Think of a place you’ve already been, or somewhere you want to go, and dress accordingly. Put a label on your suitcase so you can find it easily. International travel is one of the best ways to learn about other cultures and gain a better understanding of your own. Know before you go. Jamaican Air, for example, only has red eyes. JOL. Not ready to join the Peace Corps, but interested in a short-term adventure? Check out Global Vision International

Goodwill and Salvation Army are great places to find clothing and accessories.

Looking for a way to enjoy Halloween without all the sugar? Check out Halloween Balls: A Candy Substitute for People With Balls.

This is the year to be yourself. If you don’t like who you are, do something about it.

Do Something

Laundry study shows Americans have few hangups

By | HAVE FUN, laundry, parenting, POPULAR, spouses | 9 Comments

For the record, I don’t have any problem with people hiding things in their drawers. That’s not my business. Participants in this laundry study agreed unanimously that once clothes are washed, they should, in fact, be hung up or put away in drawers.

Why do a laundry study? I lived in France when I was in college and became fascinated by the ways that people from different cultures do laundry.

Here are a few of my hangups and some of my husband’s as well. I took this picture from the balcony of our apartment in Shenzhen, China.

In this study, drying clothes or putting clothes on hangers was simply referred to as “hangups.”

The French procrastinate. They don’t like dealing with their hangups at all. I became close friends with quite a few people and got invited to their apartments. Many of them had very few clothes and they’d wear the same outfit all week. I learned that the French invented eau de toilette water just to avoid their hangups.

collapsible indoor tripod clothes drying rack

CLICK HERE to buy a collapsible indoor tripod clothes drying rack.

Instead of doing laundry, they’d rather meet up with friends to talk over a glass of wine and a plate of crackers topped with smelly cheese. At first I didn’t like the smell of some of the cheeses or even some of my friends. But it didn’t take me long to adapt to the culture and pay less attention to my own hangups.

One French participant noted that he used his bidet to wash his underwear and derriere at the same time. AhaJokes

Americans also avoid their hangups, but in a different way. They put their clothes in the dryer and expect the appliance to minimize their hangups. Numerous participants reported that their things do indeed tend to shrink in the dryer.

But in reality, dryers are a big waste of money and space. Clothes dry all by themselves if you give them a few hours. They don’t need to be baked. We’d all be better off if people dealt with their hangups on their own instead of relying on an electric appliance for a quick fix.

Many Americans firmly believe that people shouldn’t hang their laundry out to dry. In fact many homeowner’s associations and apartment complexes in the US restrict people from hanging their laundry out to dry. They forbid people from putting up clotheslines in their own backyard or hanging clothes on their porches.

hang drying laundry on a retractable outdoor clothes line

CLICK HERE to buy a retractable outdoor clothes line. It stows away neatly when not in use.

Uppity hotels and resorts in the US restrict their customers from hanging their beach towels or bathing suits on their balconies. As an American, I think we should stop doing this. It’s really confusing to foreigners who think America is the land of the free.

One Italian who participated in the study stated that he didn’t understand why so many Americans went all the way to Italy just to take pictures of laundry hanging across streets in his hometown, Venice. He felt that Americans should be free to display hangups in their own streets.

Dry your laundry like you're in Venice.

Dry your laundry like you’re in Venice.

Most participants agreed that it’s perfectly normal to have hangups. And we’d all be better off if everyone hung their things out to dry. Most of the male participants agreed with this. Several commented that they like to know if a woman wears granny panties or thongs, adding that they have a tendency to be curious about things like this. But many female participants stated that they prefer to hide these sorts of things in their drawers. Whatever you wear, be sure to choose natural fabrics over synthetics.

My husband loves me regardless of my hangups. I know this because over the years he has supported me during times when I’ve had fewer hangups and at times when I’ve expanded my collection.

It’s important for married couples to be tolerant of one another. Since the time we got married, I’ve dealt with every one of my husband’s hangups, except for the occasional ones I pass on to the dry cleaner.

But even this I take seriously. I don’t give his hangups to just any dry cleaner. I look for ones that don’t use PERC.

clothes line solar powered laundry drying apparatus

Clothesline: a radical solar-powered laundry drying apparatus

Men usually have bigger hangups than women. Because their shoulders are typically wider, they’re naturally suited for larger hangups. This was another important finding of the study. My own husband, for example, didn’t know how to use a washer or dryer when we got married. Some of the younger women who participated in the study said they would have a problem with this because they expect their husband to deal with his own hangups.

But like many men of the Baby Boomer generation, my husband believes that women should be responsible for all the hangups in the family. I never really had a problem with it though because it makes me a stronger person. Any woman who has carried around a big basket of wet laundry knows it’s a heavy load to carry.

Turns out this is a global phenomenon. I’ve traveled all over the world and observed that women are usually the ones who take responsibility not only for their husband’s hangups, but also for the hangups of their children. That’s why middle age women are generally afflicted with a higher percentage of hangups.

According to the Green Cleaners Council, most drycleaners don’t care about their hangups. They pass them out without asking customers to bring them back. Responsible drycleaners understand that perfectly good hangups should not be wasted or placed in the trash.

When I lived in China, I was impressed with how many hangups Chinese people have. I saw many new types of hangups I’d never seen before. Most of them have a certain type of hangup permanently installed on their balconies or porches. And some have attachments to purposely display their hangups from their windows. They have no problem sharing even their most personal hangups with their neighbors. In fact, most Chinese people don’t even own electric dryers. They hang all their laundry out to dry.

I like to take pictures of people and their hangups. You can learn a lot about folks this way. Sometimes you can tell what type of work they do, the age of their children, and even how much money they make.

I’ve always believed that children should learn at a young age to put away their toys, say thank you, and deal with their own hangups. And moms should also be concerned about the toxins in dryer sheets. According to the Environmental Health Association of Ontario, dryer sheets “have been associated with numerous illnesses and chronic conditions.”

More Americans are starting to understand the hangup issue we have in our country. They’re banding together in organizations like Project Laundry List to educate people and to promote things like clotheslines, drying racks, and more hangups for Americans.

A member of the International Naturist Federation participated in the survey and commented that most people in Western countries have way too many hangups that they don’t need. He asked to remain anonymous even though he assured me he didn’t have anything he wanted to cover up.

nudefest naturist beach

The naturist assured me he didn’t have anything he wanted to cover up.

You can do your part by supporting Project Laundry List and your local green cleaner. But, according to the findings of this laundry study, the most important thing you can do is start dealing with your own hangups. As soon as they come out of the washer, hang them up to dry.

As with any change, you may find it a bit uncomfortable until you get into the new habit. But you’ll quickly begin to reap the benefits. Not only will you increase your physical activity, your clothes will last longer, and you’ll save money.

Shortly after the laundry study was complete, one of the participants contacted me with good news. Her husband decided he would try to do his own wash.

“What setting do I use on the washing machine?” my husband yelled out from the laundry room one morning.

“It depends,” I told him. “What does it say on your shirt?”

Go Gators,” he replied.

AboutLaundryRoomJokes

Project Laundry List