A Not-so-Grand Grand Finale

Posted: August 18, 2012 by Agustin the Cool Arrow in Week 4: Final Reflections

The Big Picture:

It’s been an interesting past 4 weeks air drying my laundry and and using cold water when I wash clothes.

How I felt when I first started my PSP (re-imagining of original picture by me!)

A quick recap:
1) Week One: Discovering the facts, mostly from the Project Laundry List
2) Week Two: Testing out my Laundry-Drying process for the first time (and making my first rage comic ever!)
3) Week Three: Trying to implement new ways to hang up my laundry; Unsuccessful.
4) Week Four: Finally starting to get things down and encountering new problems.

The problem I found this week came from my clothes themselves. When you hang up clothes, they act like a humidifier and keep the room warm. This is great for the winter, but during the summer, it’s not too great. It took me a while to realize this; I was really lazy and just let my clothes hang up over all the windows for a couple days. On the second day I noticed that my room was getting really, really hot, but I thought it was just because of the high temperatures we’ve been having all week. Then Mrs. Watson commented on my last blogpost on how my clothes would keep my room extra nice and warm during the winter (-_-) Interestingly enough, I found out that by changing your spin speed cycle on your washer will effect how much moisture is in your clothes, which will then change how much they will humidify your room (GreenYour).

Lower spin cycle = More Moisture = Warmer
Higher spin cycle = Less Moisture = Cooler

Another Comic I made! 😀

Every week I’ve been looking more and more into the subject of ‘laundry,’ and I’ve begun to find that there are many more aspects to it than just energy use. Did you know that there are both societal and mathematical principles involved with laundry? All three of these things connect with each other: society affects the way in which we do things environmentally, and the way we do things environmentally is governed by their mathematical possibilities (you know what i mean? hopefully?).

Aritha Van Herk, in her article entitled Invisibled Laundry, claims that doing laundry has had a deeper meaning connected to getting rid of the ‘dirt’ from our ‘personables’ and that women have traditionally been the ones made to do this:

“Relegated to this invisible but necessary realm, laundry thus bears the weight of the contradictory conjunction between cleanliness and dirt, appearance and effacement, the private and the public. Cleanliness is a display, a declaration, but the dazzling bodice and collar have been arrived at somehow. Dirt’s banishment is a mysterious enactment, laundresses over time practicing an obscure if challenging magic. In just this fashion have women in domestic service been relegated to the back door, their presence and their work erased to serve appearances, socioeconomic considerations, and sheer snobbery. Intangible and unmeasurable, domestic service internal to a household inflects the larger question of the importance of such labor to the economic survival of that household unit. How might increasing commodification have taken into account the value of domestic servitude? Anne McClintock, in Imperial Leather, discusses how the manufacture, sales, and increased use of soap in the Victorian era led to a commodity fetish: “the soap saga captured the hidden affinity between domesticity and empire and embodied a triangulated crisis in value: the undervaluation of women’s work in the domestic realm, the overvaluation of the commodity in the industrial market and thedisavowal of colonized economies in the arena of empire” (1995, 207–8). Cleansing with soap was an important aspect of imperialism’s “civilizing” agenda, but the hands that did the scrubbing were still peripheral. Housewifery, then, was consolidated as a career in the vanishing acts of making work and dirt invisible. And the fetish for clean clothes (white, white, white) accompanied a colonial imperative and drove a colonial reading of work (and not just laundry) concerned with “how to discipline the unsightly spectacle of paid women’s work” (McClintock 1995, 165). All of these issues reflect a deeply ambiguous relationship not only to domestic rituals and requirements but also to dirt itself.”

Did you know that there is also a proven mathematical question that goes along with the drying of clothes?

by Erik B. Hansen

This graph, by Erik B. Hansen in his article entitled “On Drying Laundry,” uses this model to explain the possibilities for why and how air-dried clothes dry from top to bottom.

But I did more research on the environmental effects of my selected PSP Project. Apparently, “Doing the wash in cooler water — 86 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 104 degrees — will shave the carbon footprint of each load by 0.3 pounds. That’s as much of a reduction as you get from switching to liquid from powder. The biggest way to cut the environmental impact of cleaning clothes, however, is to stop using a clothes dryer. Drying laundry outside on a line, Tesco says, will cut the carbon footprint of every load by a whopping 4.4 pounds.” (Jeffery Ball, the Wall Street Journal). So if I’m doing both of these both at the same time, I’ll be saving 4.7 pounds a load. If I do two loads a week (one for darks and lights), I’ll be saving 9.4 pounds of carbon footprint a week! And even though this is just an individual action, it could save about 488 lbs of carbon footprint per year. But in the Grand Scheme of Things, does this really add up to much?

Self Reflections

I think the most important part of the last four weeks doing this project was looking back at what I’ve done. While I’m still a noobie at blogging, it’s kind of like story-telling for me. I’ve constantly trying new ways to present my story in different ways: taking pictures, making pictures, making comics (the pictures and comics take a long time to make too) and finding new info about new ways to try things. Though it doesn’t seem to show very much of an environmental improvement each time I do a load of laundry, maybe it means something bigger down the road. After reading the chapter on different sustainable power methods, it occurred to me that air-drying clothes is a form of wind energy. On the last day of class we talked in our groups about our PSPs, and we asked ourselves “Why not try each other’s projects?” And why not? All the trail-and-error’s have been posted up on these blogs, so how much more effort would we be putting in by checking out each other’s assignments and then implementing them in our lives? Maybe the reason that we don’t need a Grand Finale for our last post is because it’s not a Finale: It’s a beginning.

Ball, J. (n.d.). Six Products, Six Carbon Footprints. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122304950601802565.html


Hansen, E. B. (1992). On Drying of Laundry. SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, 52(5), 1360–1369.

McClintock, Anne. 1995. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Context. New York: Routledge.

van Herk, A. (2002). Invisibled Laundry. Signs27(3), 893–900.


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