I was going to write about sustainable landscaping – and I still will, but something else came up:
Washing clothes is actually my least favorite chore right along with mopping the floor, taking out dripping trash, and investigating that “noise” in the middle of the night. Thus, I view the laundry task through a ‘necessary evil’ lens. But I like when it’s done. The problem is, it’s never done! I think I handle laundry fairly well for a household of four, but every time I get the last bit folded and put away on a Sunday night, the basket is already nearly half full with a new load, which is a real buzz kill.
Can’t you tell I could use some excitement in the laundry department?
So imagine my delight to stumble upon some countryfied laundry soap, made with old-school attitude by a sustainable minded sister from Los Angeles. And before you go glossy eyed on me: No, this is not an ad…in fact, she doesn’t even know how sprung I am on her mission. Yet.
I actually heard about Renee Gunter and her sustainable landscaping and water saving from Outdoor Afro community member, birder, and backyard innovator Cindy Hopkins, but when I dug deeper, I found her Old School Brand blog, which is an adventure that takes us back to the days before the soap opera of TIDE improvements to a place I had completely forgotten existed. I admit that I had long ago bought into the jingle’s message that “Tide gets it clean“, but lately I have wondered to myself: at what cost?
Laundry might have taken all day in the basement, or in the backyard back in “Big Mama’s” youth because of the contemporary technology and orthodox methods needed to produce no less than perfectly starched, white collars. But in spite of the toil, it was sustainably done without health and environmental consequences.
How did our grandmothers produce sparkling laundry without chemicals leeching into our water systems? Or without irritating delicate skin? I have a hunch Ms. Gunter has captured their solution in her soap. She makes the soap in small batches with kind ingredients for use with the modern convenience of a machine.
After reading her blog, I have to admit I felt like a laundry wimp who has conveniently avoided the real deal of laundry duty experienced by the women of my heritage. Her blog chronicles the presence and skill of African American women in the activity of cleaning laundry, and hanging it to dry outside, with some gorgeous historic photos. She writes about the matriarchs of her family, all of whom were maids who migrated from Arkansas to the Los Angeles area, and recalls sitting and watching the meticulous cleaning her mom and aunts did for wealthy whites that relied more on skills and sweat equity than on products.
So to gain some laundry cred, I am ordering Old School Brand soap this week! And when I get it, maybe I’ll go a bit further to save quarters, reduce my household footprint on the environment, and let the unmentionables hang outdoors for the sun to bleach, and all the neighbors to see, as one more way to help make the world healthier.
For more information: Old School Laundry Soap
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