conservation of laundry

One of my classmate-friends turned to me this morning and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in jeans before!”

I replied, “I wore these on Sunday, so today’s the day I’m wearing them again—conservation of laundry.”

I’ve been a laundry conservationist for a long time. Some of what drives it is what you’d expect—who wants to do laundry more frequently than ab-so-lute-ly necessary? Some of what drives it, though, is a pinch of ecological thinking. (Otherwise I could just get larger laundry hampers.) Fewer loads of laundry means we generate fewer gallons of water mingled with soapsuds… and by the way, what kind of laziness is it that we take perfectly drinkable water, which is not trivial to come by, and use it to wash clothes with?! I digress.

Conservation rules, as particular to me:

  • Pants are worn twice. After two times, the wearing-wrinkles get a pressed look (not OK) and they start to smell distinctively like me (also not OK, at least not in the U.S.).
  • Jeans used to be worn three times, but The Authorities* wrote me up for fashion transgression. Evidently the modern proclivity for mixing lycra into jeans causes a sagging seat after Wear #2.
    [*Which Authorities? Mostly my personal stylist, A. She’s really good. I’d encourage you to hire her but she already has a full-time job she loves far more.]
  • Exercise clothes: 3 times in winter, 2 in summer. Jocks smell funny, so there’s some latitude available.
  • Tops? Just once. I tried twice for a while, but between the sniff-test and the wrinkles it just wasn’t worth it. Besides, it’s hard not to out yourself if you wear the exact same outfit twice in a week.
  • Dresses? Once by default, but if they’re occasion-clothes (a date, symphony, church) and aren’t worn an entire day they might be set aside for a future date. This requires discreet tagging in my closet, however, because eventually they’ll need to be cleaned-!

Like with My Sweetie’s work in repurposing ingredients and leftovers, I am challenged to both be creative and think ahead as I’m choosing my outfits. (Will I want to wear that color trouser twice this week? Is that too similar to what I wore yesterday?) I also have evolved a judicious method of piles, so that I keep an eye on what’s presently in play while I try not to repeat elements for the same audience. Which makes Sunday-worn clothes easy: my weekdays no longer overlap my weekends at all.

As I mentioned to a tired-looking friend, it’s the downhill slope of the semester. We’ve completed more class-days than we have left to soldier through, and the end is (nearly) in sight. Today is a good day to pull on my old tech-uniform: jeans, fandom-tshirt, Converses.

Plus now the jeans are no longer on the floor for the vacuum to get tangled in on housecleaning day. Winning all around!

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