Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Clutter of Doing the Right Thing

I went over to my friend's house the other day and her entire living room was filled with laundry, literally! They moved their laundry umbrella in from outside when it started raining, and the living room is the only place big enough to put it. She laughed and said "don't mind the laundry" while her teenage daughter looked for any mortifying underwear in evidence. And the thing is, I don't mind the laundry, I'm there to see my friend.

We're lucky enough to be in a friendship and circle of friends and community and even a town that supports sustainability, even if that means socks in your living room. I also have re-used glass jars and washed ziplock baggies drying on my kitchen counters, bowls of drying seeds and pods from the garden on top of the microwave, and the laundry rack in our bedroom. I know that in other cities or communities, other suburban cultures, this sort of general untidyness of life would be something to be avoided at all costs. I think of my friends from other times and places with their lovely parquet floors and matching throw pillows and exquisitely framed artwork and I do experience a twinge of something - envy maybe? - at the lovely magazine-cover neatness of it all. But also relief that my house can be more utilitarian than decorative (though it still cleans up real nice for a party, when the laundry is very much not in evidence!)

The bottom line is that when you have a three-tiered compost system on your counter (there's the vegetable scraps for the guinea pigs, other food scraps except citrus for the chickens, and the main compost bin for everything else), your kitchen probably won't win any Martha Stewart awards for decor. And when your dryer only gets turned on once a month, you end up with more than a few socks hanging around. But you also end up with10 kg less of Co2 into the atmosphere from the clothes dryer alone, and that can only be a good thing, even factoring in childhood trauma induced by someone seeing underwear in your living room.

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