Category Archives: energy

donation advice?

I’m doing annual donations, and could use some advice in the eco-sphere. In particular, i’m looking for an organization which is specifically focused on reducing the environmental impact of American energy consumption. This could include any combination of research into alternate technologies (or offering grants for others to do such research), government advocacy, and corporate advocacy.

Some names i’ve come across:

* Enviromental and Energy Study Institute
* Pew Center for Global Climate Change
* Rocky Mountain Institute

But i don’t know anything about any of those groups. Alternately, if anyone knows an organization which provides outside information about environmentalist nonprofits, i imagine i could find the kind of information i want from something like that.

Thoughts, anyone? Thanks in advance.

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How to do your laundry in the bathtub.

Motivated more by penury than environmentalism, I recently decided to start washing all my clothes by hand. Towels, sheets, and blankets still go to the laundromat, since they’re too unwieldy to rinse and dry in the confined space of my little NYC apartment. Otherwise, I’ve kicked the washer and dryer habit, which is good, since both machines eat electricity like candy.

Feel like giving handwashing a try?

You will need:

  • a large plastic or — better yet — metal bucket
  • a bathtub
  • laundry detergent (I like Seventh Generation)
  • a laundry line, either in the bathtub itself, or anywhere else that’s convenient for you

1) Fill the bucket about halfway with your dirty clothes, packed loosely. Dump in the appropriate amount of detergent, fill the bucket with warm water. Allow the clothes to soak for at least ten minutes.

2) Take a shower. Wash, scrub, exfoliate, condition — do whatever you normally do in the shower. While you’re doing all this, stomp on your laundry to agitate it and force the soap through the fabric. You can also use a washboard during this stage, though I don’t think it’s really necessary.

3) When you’ve finished your shower, empty the laundry bucket and wring out the clothes. Fill the bucket about halfway with cold water, and then pound the hell out your clothes so as to remove as much soap as possible. Rinse, refill, repeat. Unless you’ve used way too much detergent, the rinsing process shouldn’t take more than a bucket or two of cold water.

4) Wring out your laundry, hang it up to dry. My laundry line suction-cups itself to the tiles of my bathroom wall, so that I can let my clothes drip-dry right over the tub.

Addendum: To shrink denim back to its proper size, soak it for five to ten minutes in very hot water. No tumble-drying necessary!

by laurawolfram

a bright idea

One easy way to cut down on your home energy use: replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. CFLs need far less electricity to produce the same amount of light as their incandescent counterparts, and as an added bonus, they last much longer, too. You can read more about them here and here.

I held out against CFL bulbs for a long time, erroneously associating them with the unpleasantly harsh light cast by standard-size fluorescent bulbs. Yet when I finally installed 23-watt (equivalent to 100-watt incandescent) n:vision CFL bulbs in my bathroom and bedroom last week, I was pleasantly surprised. The bulbs give off a warm, buttery light — just as good, if not better, than their energy-sucking predecessors.

Major retailers like Home Depot and Wal-Mart now carry compact fluorescent bulbs, as do many neighborhood drugstores and grocery stores. Alternately, you can search for a store near you using Energy Star’s store locator feature.

by laurawolfram