Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The hidden dangers of Evil Plastic Dryer Pods and a safer alternative

I was in K-town yesterday.  I went into the Quilt store -- you know the one that sells patchwork quilts in a bag -- all made in China, for a price that is lower than the costs of materials.  I was at Orchard Park Place and I had gone down the wrong maze, looking for Chapters, but saw the store.  And within this store I totally embarrassed myself, and made my daughter proud of me.

It started innocently enough.  When asked if we needed help, I said we just came in to drool over the quilts.  And we glanced at other things in the store while I imagined what Sarah's bedroom would look like redecorated for her new adult, graduated self.

We were doing other coming-of-age things in K-town, like changing her bank accounts from child to student accounts, buying shoes for her grad outfit and eating ice cream (ok, some of it was regression).  So we innocently get lost in the mall and wander into the store and admire the colours and dream of home making,,,when out of the blue these two store clerks converse, and I catch the import of their words.

"Have you seen the new dryer balls."

"Yes, I saw them.  Are they ever neat.  Are there any more in stock?"

"No, just these two packages are left."

My ears are prickling.  Dryer balls.  I've been making dryer balls this Spring from our natural wool, some dyed with ecofriendly natural dyes.  They are amazing products.  About the size of a tennis ball, they bounce around inside your dryer disrupting static, absorbing moisture (wool can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in water without feeling wet), and making your clothes smell cleaner.  Naturally anti-bacterial, they even absorb toxins and odours making your clothes fresher.  They reduce drying time by 30 to 40%.  So they save you money, too.

So I wander around the front of the counter and look at the boxes of "dryer balls" that the ladies are speaking about.  And I am aghast.  All their accolades are over these ugly, plastic, pods, with spikes.  Some alternative to toxic dryer sheets -- another toxin.  Only these plastic pods will rough up your clothes, reducing their life, while they are heated in the dryer and will off gas petrol chemicals into your home.  And they will not degrade when you are finished with them, but remain perpetually on earth -- immortal ugliness.

The price tag for this toxic alternative to another toxin is a mear $19.95, for two.  My goodness, that's the same cost as 4 tennis-ball-size wool balls. 

By the way, some people pop tennis balls into their dryers to serve the same purpose but the tennis balls are also made with petro-chemicals (called dinosaurs, around here) and will also off-gas.  Plus you get all that florescent yellow fluff rubbing off on your black jeans.  Don't do it.

So I told the nice sales ladies about wool dryer balls and how they were a better alternative to dryer sheets and plastic dryer pods.  Usually when I launch into my passion -- natural living, natural fibres and natural cosmetics -- which means getting rid of the toxic, plastic, dangerous stuff from your life and embracing freedom and well-being -- I get this glazed look.  And I think they are thinking, "forget your medication again today, Dear?"

But they didn't.  They instead expressed interest.  They wanted to know where they could get these miracle dryer balls made from natural wool.  I told them they could make them from natural wool with their own hands, soap and water.  (Yes, I had to explain what natural wool was and how it was different than yarn, which might also be made from petro-chemicals) But they actually wanted to know.  They wrote down our website, and I told them about other online places that sell dryer balls ready made.  And they wrote that down, too.

And then I talked about the dangers of polyester clothing, how polyester clothing, like plastic water bottles, releases toxins like BPA into your body, which disrupt your endocrine system -- causing cancer, reducing your thyroid function and hurting you.

Then I started feeling embarrassed.  Maybe I said too much.  Especially when I started mentioning that bras are mostly made from petrochemicals and were a direct link to breast cancer and hormone problems.  For those few soap-box minutes we were alone in the store. 

I hastily excused myself and fled the store with Sarah ,feeling that I must have embarrassed my poor, almost 18 year old daughter.

"Sorry if I embarrassed you, Sarah."

She laughed, "You didn't embarrass me, at all.  I was proud of you."

There will be a tutorial on wet felting natural wool dryer balls later this week.  Check back.

And if you enjoy reading about natural living, natural fibers, and alternatives to dangerous chemical products, please subscribe to this blog using the RSS feed and add your name to our mailing list.

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  1. I'm laughing so hard picturing this great scenario! You tell 'em, Chris! So wool felt balls actually speed dryer time? Makes total sense now that I think about it. I'll be back for the tutorial. Not like there's a lack of wool around my house!

  2. looking forward to the tutorial, I'm sure I can rescue some fibre from my stash; I'm sure some of my Gotland would do a wonderful job! Never used dryer balls, but it's winter over here so the dryer is getting a good workout; if this helps to cut drying time and keep things smelling good I'll be happy; also something to do in the school holidays next month.

  3. Hi, Louisa, I kept shaking my head as we walked away from the store, asking Sarah, "How did that happen?" We laughed for 30 minutes afterward.

    Thanks for commenting.

  4. Hi, Rachelle
    Your gotland will be perfect. The long fibered wools felt well and longer wools will keep the balls from pilling in the dryer. Its a great project to do with kids, too.

    You need 6 felted balls the size of a tennis ball for best affect (saving energy and drying time). For just reducing static 2 will do.

    I'll be working on the tutorial tomorrow or Friday, depending on how my weaving goes today.

    Thanks for commenting,