Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Day 7 - Results - Appliances

Appliances...there were two biggies that I will write about - the dishwasher and the clothes dryer. Facts: the dishwasher and the dryer were invented pre-1950, but after doing research on these items (which included many personal interviews), I realized that the were not yet the commonplace for someone from my socioeconomic background.

The dishwasher:

I can honestly say that I enjoyed doing dishes. Now, keep in mind that only my husband and I live in our house, and we didn't have any big dinner parties during the 30 days...perhaps my tune would be different in a different situation. What I did discover in my present situation is that doing the dishes by hand gave me space to reflect...or not reflect. Basically, the times I did the dishes was space without intellectual stimulation or noise. It was a very simple form of "manual labor"; something that in this age of technology, many of us do not get the opportunity to experience. And my experience was that a little bit of manual labor provided a nice balance to my body/mind/spirit...Our minds are constantly getting workouts with the volumes of information that modern day technology delivers.

Once a trainer at the gym noticed that I was using this particular arm toning machine every day, with heavy weights and many repetitions. His advice to me was to rotate the toning day work on my legs, the next day work on my abs, then the next day work on my arms. He said that because I wasn't giving my arms a rest, the arm muscles never had a chance to actually grow and strengthen. The muscles actually grew the most on the "off" days. I think that this idea can be applied to our was during the "off" times, such as the times I spent doing the dishes by hand, that my mind truly had the opportunity to grow and strengthen.

There was also the question of whether or not these appliances actually live up to their "time saving" the case of the dishwasher, I realize that I only save a small amount of time using the dishwasher (again, this is based on my present situation). I normally give the dishes a quick rinse before putting them in the dishwasher, and I often try to unload them a little to early, when they are not completely dry yet. So I often find myself hand drying some of them as well. By the time I figure in these redundant actions that have become such a integral part of my routine, I actually save very little time by using the dishwasher. Along this same line of thought, these redundant actions also result in excessive water usage. I know I use less water by hand washing the dishes.

On a humorous note, I was really bad at washing dishes by hand when I first started to do so. I thought I was doing a good job until I went to dry them and discovered hidden, dried food under the rims of bowls and on the backside of pans. So I practiced...I really had to pay attention. And that made me realize that so few activities force us to pay attention. We don't have to pay attention when we write - misspelled words and incorrect grammar automatically pop up in red and green, respectively. We often don't have to pay attention when someone is speaking about a topic; if we are really interested, we go home and pull up volumes of information on the Internet. And we don't have to pay attention when the dishes are being cleaned in the dishwasher; we trust that the dishwasher is getting them clean. It was refreshing to have to really pay attention.

The dryer:

All the above can also apply to line-drying clothes. We rigged a line in our basement...Michigan weather is a little less than ideal this time of year for drying outside (although pre-1950s, many would dry clothes outside year round regardless of the weather) And it is true...clothes stay in better shape in the absence of the dryer.

Just as hand washing dishes conserves water, line-drying clothes conserves electricity. To what extent, I don't know. But my curiosity has been sparked, and I will probably continue personal research in this area. And because the clothes will stay in better shape longer, line-drying also reduced the consumption of the clothes.

So although I the project is over, I've continued to wash dishes by hand (I think I did run one dishwasher load when I cleaned out the fridge). I must admit - I did use the dryer after the last load of wash. Like my return use of the credit card, I'm not exactly sure why I felt the need to use the dryer again. Maybe because it was there...looking lonely next to the washer? I know, poor excuse...but really, isn't that why we use a lot of this technology?

Day 8 - Results - Food


Cherice said...

The house I grew up in had a gravity feed water system. The pump was down the hill from the house and it pumped the water up to a holding tank on top of our hill where it gravity fed to the house. This meant that we didn't have the water pressure to run a dishwasher, nor could we take a shower (we could as long as no one else turned on a faucet or used any water in the house, also the shower worked better if the 1,000 gallon tank was full). The first house my husband and I lived in also didn't have a dishwasher. I have a love/hate relationship with the machine as I don't find that it saves much time (or energy, since every dishwasher I've ever encountered is spotty about getting the dishes clean). We run our because we have 3 children at home, but still hand wash quite a large number of things.

I hang some things in our basement to dry. When we lived in California I used our clothesline almost exclusively. You would be surprised at how much money you save in energy costs by not running the dryer (I know I was). Our dryer gets used more than I'd like, mostly because it's handy, but if you want clothes to last a long time (unless you're clumsy like me and tend to spill, and then I recommend an apron) hang them to dry.

I am looking forward to your food entry. My mother in law gave me one of her cookbooks...1943 "The Joy of Cooking" and I have (and use regularly) the 1950 Betty Crocker picture cookbook. I know how my grandmother cooked, so I'll be curious to read about your experiences.

Teri said...

There is one good use for a dishwasher. That is to sterilize canning jars before using them. That's about it. Unless you have a really large family, you can wash the dishes faster by hand than using the machine. And that includes heating up the water on the stove like we do.

As for dryers, I am having to use the laundromat for now so I am taking adavantage of it. In our old house, we had a closeline strung up in the back of the bedroom, which was southern exposure. If you turn a box fan at the clothes, it speeds up drying time. We'll start drying the clothes outside again at our new home as soon as the weather clears up. We just don't have any space to dry them in the trailer.