Tuesday, September 23, 2008

10 Easy Ways to Be More Sustainable with Your Linens

Table cloths. Dish towels. Bath towels. Cloth napkins. Bed sheets. These are all commonly known as linens although very few of them are actually made of linen. According to Wikipedia* 

The collective term linens is still often used generically to describe a class of woven and even knitted bed, bath, table and kitchen textiles. The name linens is retained because traditionally, linen was used for many of these items.

We have entire closets dedicated for holding our linens (or in the case of my small house, two very crammed shelves in the only hall closet in the house). There are stores devoted to selling linens. If you've got linens, and chances are you do, here are ten easy ways to be sustainable with them.
  1. Shop for used. Now, I don't think I'd like to buy used bed sheets or bath towels, but I have bought many used table cloths at yard sales. Sometimes, the most beautiful ones are found at yard sales and second hand or antique stores.
  2. What you don't buy used, buy made form organic cotton, hemp or bamboo. Our bed sheets are organic cotton, and they were very reasonably priced from Target. I think our queen set (flat sheet, fitted sheet and two pillow cases were $50).
  3. Don't buy more than you need. Do you really need more than two sets of sheets for each bed in the house? Some people might say you only need one if you can be diligent enough to wash and put them back on the bed the same day. 
  4. Wash all your linens in cold water. A lot of the energy used in washing clothes is for the hot water. 
  5. Hang dry your linens. They come out crisp and smelling great, and you won't put the 5 pounds of green house gasses in the air that you would have if your ran them through the dryer. They will also last longer.
  6. Use them wrinkled. What a better excuse not to iron than, "I just don't want to use the electricity that the iron uses."
  7. Try natural stain removers like lemon juice and water, then a good soak in the sun, before using stain removers with harsh chemicals.
  8. Hang your bath towels up carefully after each use so they don't have to be washed that often. Towels that quickly air dry avoid getting that funky smell.
  9. Borrow. If you're having a party, think about borrowing some linens that a friend might have - a tablecloth or extra cloth napkins -instead of going out and buying something new. If you're having a huge party, consider renting them from a party supplier.
  10. When your linens come to the end of their life, give them a new one as rags.
* I don't hold much stock in Wikipedia's general accuracy, but I don't see the harm in using them for this type of topic.

Image courtesy of flickr
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1 comment:

GJK said...

Hey, Robin. I don't know how often you check comments on old posts . . but regarding your comment here about washing linens in cold water. I've always heard that linens, even more than clothes, need to be washed in hot water. Kitchen linens have salmonella and such type germs on them. Bed linens have "bed bugs" and other allergens that you gotta kill off with hot water.