Its really trendy to be green lately. Like, totally, omg, super-cool to the point that it can sometimes be difficult to get past the superficial appearance of sustainability and really start to make meaningful changes.
There's no judgement here, by the way. We all have our own lives to live, and we all have a different level of sacrifice we are unwilling to make. My husband and I are agreed that we will at least try pretty much everything, up to family cloth. Because, ew. More power to the people who can manage it, but its just not for us.
One of the things we have successfully done in the past is "hand" wash and line dry almost all of our laundry. Of course, this is when we were living in Berkeley, where our west-facing drying-rack-sized porch and the local maritime Mediterranean climate really helped us out. I put "hand" in quotes up there because what we would do was dump a load of laundry into the bathtub (usually determined by how much space we had on our rack to dry), toss in some laundry soap or Dr. Bronner's, and then stomp on everything like Lucy Ricardo in Italy. Then we'd put it up to drip-dry on the porch or on hangers in the bathroom, then pull everything inside to finish drying once it got dark. The system worked really well, and it meant that we didn't have to lug everything half a mile away to the laundromat, spend $20+, and then sit and guard it for 4 hours. Instead, we got fresh, clean clothes for the price of soap, and about an hour's worth of hard work. What a bargain!
Unfortunately, now that we live in Upstate New York, this isn't really an option for us. Our porch isn't situated so that we can set up a drying rack that gets any amount of sun while not completely blocking the door; also, hello, WINTER! Its a little cold outside, and my California ass is not about to freeze for the sake of some drippy jeans. Instead, our compromise with the laundry room will be that we will machine wash our clothes, which will spin out the extra water and allow us to easily line dry everything in the house, right in front of the heater vent. As an added bonus, the water evaporating from the clothes will help rehydrate the air in the house, making for a more comfortable, if crowded, living environment! We save $1.25 a load, use less electricity, and benefit from air that won't instantly dessicate all forms of life.
One of the other things we've experimented with in the past was a CSA box, with mixed results. I really loved getting a good variety of fresh fruits and veggies provided by super awesome independent, local farms. The problem was that the "small" box was too much for us - for me, really, since I was the only one consistently eating out of it - so we had a lot of food going to waste. I've been trying to get more local stuff from Wegman's (the East Coast version of Nugget), but again... Upstate New York. Winter. The pickings are a little slim. Fortunately, this weekend I discovered Garden Gate Delivery, which allows you to essentially go shopping on their website, then the woman who runs it picks up your orders from local farms, and delivers it to your door. All the best parts of a traditional CSA box, but with more flexibility for smaller or more picky households. We should be getting our first delivery on Tuesday, so I'll let you know what all we get. I'm super excited!
Also, I feel the need to point out that I wrote this post to an episode of Portlandia. (the dream of the 90's is alive in Portland...)