Sunday, March 2, 2008

Unexpected Expenses and Environmental Concerns

My washer died on Friday night. Scott was doing a load of laundry and the damn thing stopped spinning. He and my brother-in-law, Henk, looked at it on Saturday and decided it wasn't worth saving. I'd bought that washer and dryer set for $150 almost three years ago. I figured I got my use out of them.

I decided I should just buy a new washer as I don't think I've ever purchased a brand new one before in my life.

Now, I'm a tree hugger . . . that is, I try to make environmentally friendly choices. Sometimes that's hard to do as these choices are smore expensive. But I opt in to the Blue Sky program at Pacific Power - which means I pay a few dollars each month to purchase electricity from sustainable sources. I am trying to pay most of my bills online. I bought Marmoleum last year for my kitchen/dining room floor - it's all natural and doesn't release VOCs into the atmosphere like conventional linoleum. Plus, it has some kinda cool designs. It was a bit more expensive, but not by much. I'm trying to cut out my dependency on bottled water and to go back to using tap water. Up until two months ago or so, when I had the flu, I reused plastic water bottles by filling them with purified water from my tap. When I caught the flu (and I didn't want Eddie to get it), I started buying a case of bottled water a week for the past couple of months. That meant that I was using and discarding 100 plastic bottles a month. Not good.

Also, there has been a lot of publicity recently about plastic bottles leaching chemicals (sometimes carcinogenic) into the water, especially when the bottles sit in a warm car (the same for chemicals released from plastic in the microwave). For that reason, I just bought two quart-sized glass pitchers that fit into the door of my refrigerator so that I can have nice, cold water to drink. I use purified water from my tap to fill the pitchers. Eddie and I both prefer our water cold.

Water is also something that environmentalists say we need to start conserving. So, when I shopped yesterday for a new washer, I eventually decided that I needed to buy a front-loading washer, which uses 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of water that a conventional top-loader uses. I don't pay a lot each month for my water (about $40/month), but I will hopefully see some difference. It also uses less electricity. The motor is more powerful, so it'll spin more water out of the clothes (which also have been immersed in less water), which means that it won't hopefully take as long to dry (i.e., less electricity). The new washer gets delivered on Monday. Good, because the laundry is also starting to pile up! It was a bit more expensive. I think, though, the extra I spent will pay for itself in a year or so. I also get some peace of mind in terms of doing what I can for the environment.

I should also say that I bought the water from a local business, Stover, Evey and Jackson. They have a flat $35 delivery fee. The price of the washer includes installation and they will also take the old washer away to recycle. We bought my refrigerator from them almost 7 years ago. The technicians were great - they took the extra time to turn the doors around to the way I wanted them. Friendly local service.

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