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Show your sweaters some love

Christian Nofziger | Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fellow Tree Huggers,
As the leaves turn and start to fall, I am sure you, like me, are excited about one thing: ugly sweater season. Ah yes, the only time of the year you can don that horrendous sweater from the Eddie Bauer 1984 winter catalog. November is also laundry month for the Dorm Energy Championship. In preparation for this jubilant season of woolen wonder, I have prepared some tips and tricks to keep your sweaters in prime condition and save the planet at the same time.
First, it is a little known fact that woolen sweaters love company. You should never wash them in a half load as this could be detrimental to their psyche. Washing them in this fashion also wastes water. Typical top-load washers, like we have on campus, require 40 gallons of water. Make sure you load all the clothes you can. This will ensure your sweater is well socialized, and could save hundreds of gallons of water a year.
Secondly, sweaters are terrified of hot water. Many generations of coffee spills have had their impact. Thus, you should only wash your sweaters in cold water. With advances in modern soap technology, cold water is just as effective at cleaning your clothes as hot. Since about 90 percent of the energy to run a load of wash is used to heat the water, this is another great way to save energy and take the lead in the Dorm Energy Championship.
Finally, sweaters are fragile creatures that cannot handle the hostile environment of a dryer. Every time you use a clothes dryer your sweaters lose a little piece of themselves. This shows up as the nasty lint. Instead you should allow them to hang-dry. This little bit of extra effort on your part will preserve your other clothes as well. Hang-drying can also save your dorm a ton of electricity. Over an 18-year lifetime a household clothes dryer costs about $1500 to run, so imagine the savings your dorm could realize if you give your overused dryers a break.
I hope, armed with this information, you all enjoy ugly sweater season sustainably.  Don’t be afraid to change your laundry routines or be true to your ugly sweater.

Christian Nofziger can be reached at
cnofzige@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.