A small thought (and a winner!)

Actually, we’ll do that in opposite order.

The Winner


Congrats to Anjana, of Happy and Harried, the winner of the Third Day Naturals giveaway. Anjana, you’ve been emailed! I hope you love your Third Day products.

The Small Thought

Yesterday, I shared that I’ve chosen not to spend time line-drying my laundry because a) I hated it and b) it wasn’t saving me that much money.

Whenever I mention that I don’t line-dry my laundry, some people are invariably appalled. Either they can’t believe I would give up the monetary savings, or they are concerned that I’m not thinking about the ecological impact of the energy a dryer uses.

Here’s the small thought I have about that (which I touched on in the comments yesterday).

None of us (except for possibly the rare superwoman or superman) lives either a perfectly frugal life or a perfectly ecologically-friendly life.

That means that to a degree, we are all picking and choosing what frugal or earth-friendly activities we will do. And of course, the picking and choosing we each do will be different because we’ve all got varying amounts of time and varying priorities.

So, when we look at the activities other people have chosen, we need to do that with grace.

After all, we’d want someone to treat our choices graciously.

Maybe you are horrified that your neighbor pays someone to clean her house. But it’s quite possible that she saves money in ways you don’t so that she can afford the cleaner.

Perhaps your cousin’s habit of taking very long, very hot showers seems environmentally wasteful to you. But maybe that cousin doesn’t turn his heat up as high as you do, or maybe he drives less than you.

Ooh, and I may possibly think a cell phone bill is ridiculously high (ahem). But, I really ought to consider that other people may spend less on things like, um, cameras (says she who owns two SLRs).

I know from personal experience that it’s pathetically easy to fall into a frugaler-than-thou or greener-than-thou kind of mindset, but I also know that blessed little in the way of good stuff comes from that way of thinking.

So, when you’re tempted to look down on someone else because they’ve made a difference choice from you, try what helps me: reminding yourself that difference isn’t necessarily worse or wrong. It could just be…different.


P.S. Just to clarify, I’m not upset or hurt that people questioned my choice not to line-dry. Fortunately, my skin is a little thicker than that by now and I am very comfortable with my decision. ;) I’m sharing this thought today not to defend myself, but to encourage us all to treat other people with understanding.


  1. Suzan says

    I believe that we should follow the instruction, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

    You are correct. We all have to pick and choose to suit our life style. For instance we have had so much rain this summer that line drying has not been practical. So of course I am not looking forward to the power bill. It will be up on two counts

    1. We have used the drier so the bill will be up
    2. Less sunshine means we have produced less solar power.

    For now I am enjoying the soft soft towels.

    • Annette W says

      We also have solar, but being on the East Coast of the Us, we are just coming in to the best solar time, but we have not paid a electric bill since May of 2012!!! and i only use the dryer for under clothes and towels!!

  2. says

    Amen! Thank you so much for addressing this. I often find myself comparing my abilities to others and need to stop. For instance last week while talking to my husband I said, “I wish I was more like on of our friends. Her house is always spotless, she throws the most awesome parties for her children, etc.” Hubby told me of the inadequacies she feels around me, “she can’t sew a button, let alone all the crafty things you do.”
    Long story short we need to embrace each others differences! Again thank you for the post.

  3. says

    I think part of the reason that people were so surprised is because hanging washing to dry is the norm in a lot of places around the world. In Australia at least, even the most extravagant people I know hang their washing out. They might have a dryer, but only use it if it’s raining or they’re in a hurry, not for every load.

    This is not saying that you should do it Kristen, it’s just highlighting the difference between the US and the rest of the world. I watched an episode of Wife Swap once (no judgement!), where one of the husbands refused to let the new wife hang the clothes up to dry because he thought people would think they were poor and the clothes would get dirty. I couldn’t believe that something that is so normal for us could have such a stigma in another culture.

    • Kristen says

      It is true that line-drying habits seem to vary greatly from country to country. And probably if I’d grown up in a culture where line-drying was the norm, I’d do it without blinking an eye, kind of like how I bake bread without blinking an eye.

        • says

          Pretty sure I saw that episode of wife swap!
          It was only very recently I discovered that line-drying can be prohibited in certain areas of the US (world?) – which to a Brit sounds very odd…although I’m sure that may be the case now in some developed areas of the UK – or soon will be? There’s no ‘one size fits all’ in any situation ever…only what works for you.
          p.s My hubby vitoed the idea of the hanging from the ceiling airer. Not my fault he’s so tall now is it?

          • Elaine in Ark says

            A *lot* of subdivisions have Covenants & Regulations that prohibit line drying. Some people think it’s looks “lower class” (I think they’re just snobs). I have one line that I run from my deck to the shed (not very long, really) and when I want to line dry, I sneak laundry out there very early on Saturday mornings before everyone is up.

    • says

      Ha! When I was an exchange student living in Norway, I once did a load of laundry and hung it outside to dry on a Sunday. My host mother was HORRIFIED! She tore the laundry down and snapped at me saying, “If you MUST hang the laundry out to dry, at least have the good graces not to do it on a Sunday!”

      I was completely mystified. It never occurred to me that anyone could possibly be offended by either laundry on the line or doing chores on a Sunday! That was a real eye opener to be sure!

      • says

        “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” “On the seventh day, he rested.” That’s why she didn’t want you to do it on Sunday. I remember hearing those things in Sunday School when I was little and understood that Sunday was for a day of rest. Therefore, I was worried when my mother sometimes did laundry and hung it out on Sundays. Would something bad happen? Those are the kind of thoughts you get when when you have a practical mother and an anxious child. Of course, I never asked her about it. I just worried in silence.

  4. ks says

    If any of us wanted to truly be environmentally friendly, we wouldn’t own/use the electronic devices that allow us to be online. So, yes, to your point Kristen–it’s all a matter of picking and choosing and doing what’s right for us…but monetarily and environmentally.

  5. Tricia says

    Kristen – good post! Being positive and accepting of others is far more important than living up to the expectations of others. You always set a great example and imagine how many people have made changes in their lives that benefit the environment and the financial lives of their loved ones, etc. The ripple effect of your blog has done great things above and beyond what many other individuals have done! You rock!

  6. Allison says

    Agreed. We really don’t know why people do the things they do. I dry in the dryer, a friend hangs hers up–basement in the winter, outdoors in the summer. We all do what we feel needs to be done for our own needs. I think line drying would be nice and it is something I grew up with, but for now, getting the laundry done is sometimes a challenge and I don’t see taking a load of wet clothes up the stairs, through the house and out the back happening any time soon.

  7. Tina B says

    As I read on another site just yesterday, “This isn’t a competition!!!” (exclamation points are mine).

  8. STL Mom says

    I think we each have chores we don’t mind a bit, and others that irritate us for no reason. For instance, I never buy pre-cut fruit, and wouldn’t think of buying most pre-cut vegetables . But I love pre-sliced mushrooms because for some reason I hate cutting mushrooms.

    • michelle says

      aha! rings true to me! I enjoy slicing & chopping fruites & veggies… including the mushooms i prefer to slice them myself, i like them slimmer … but when it comes to carrots, i only buy shredded carrots. it’s shredded carrots or no carrots all!

  9. Deb says

    I never line dried in the first place! I LOVE LOVE LOVE my dryer, compound that with the fact that we now live in NW Montana where there are not that many sunny days and well, I am not even tempted………….I could go on about other ways we save money, but don’t really care to, I hate line drying………….and I love the soft, warm after drying feeling……..

  10. says

    In addition to making difference choice on how we use our time and energy, we also all come from different backgrounds and levels of frugality/environmental awareness.

    Sometimes what looks like a person being just a little bit frugal is actually huge for them, because they didn’t grow up in a frugal household.

    And in reverse, some of us have distaste for doing certain frugal activities because we have strong and unpleasant memories attached to those tasks.

    A bit of understanding can go a long, long way.

    • says

      Oh those unpleasant memories… My step mother grew up in extreme poverty in post WWII Germany. When I told her about my “no poo” system for cleaning my hair with baking soda and vinegar she was absolutely horrified. She immediately began regaling me with childhood tales of having her hair washed with a big green bar of soap, and having to endure having vinegar poured on her head afterwards – something she apparently regarded as tantamount to torture!

      • WilliamB says

        My grandmother felt the same way about cooking, although she was too mild-mannered to express actual horror. But she had to learn to cook young and had a very different opinion of cooking than I, who has the luxury of not cooking if I “just don’ wanna!”

  11. Rebecca P says

    Great reminder for all of us! It seems we all have things that trigger the “better than her” attitude, when all we really need to do is remember everybody’s just trying to do the best they can. If we spent more time extending grace and less time judging others, this world would be a much kinder place.

  12. says

    I agree – everyone is drawing the line somewhere. Can I just say – baby clothes. So many tiny little items that I find extremely time consuming to hang. Plus, I’d rather spend that time with him. :)

  13. says

    Ahh . . . the old I am (green, frugal, etc.) vs the I am more (green, frugal, etc.) than you. Comparisons are useful in scientific studies. If you can accurately quantify something, or gather ample qualitative data, I suggest you leave comparing alone.

  14. Jennifer says


    I appreciate the fact that you share aspects of your life that others may perceive as imperfections, and that you take the high road when you respond to criticism from your readers. Your blog is about much more than being frugal, and that is why I enjoy reading it.

  15. Battra92 says

    Buy what you like and enjoy the money in a way that you’re comfortable with. Being frugal isn’t about being cheap, it’s about obtaining the maximum amount of satisfaction for your income. For different people, that means different things.

    Life is about priorities. We all have limited income, limited time and limited space. At current count, I have 1,316 DVDs (although some of those are going on eBay, Amazon or to the thrift store soon) yet I wonder why some people would pay $30 a month just to get internet to their phone. I’ve been called a lot of things for my large video game collection (most pretty negative, especially from the opposite sex) but I don’t own over 9000 pairs of shoes so I can afford a new game now and again.

  16. jenelle says

    I am glad to see that you made a second blog post about this issue. I was able to read some of the comments last night (baby was taking a nap!) and was upset with some of the “tones” people were taking on the subject. We each need to decide what we can to do to be frugal and environmentally friendly and what works within our lifestyle. (and then stop judging others) I work out of the home and have chosen to use our clothes dryer for the majority of our clothes drying. After working all day and then carrying around a 22lb 7 month old, there is no way I am going to haul laundry from our second floor laundry room outside to then have to haul it back up the stairs to be put away. What I have chosen TO DO, to help the environment, is to be the ultimate recycler. You will never see a scrap of paper in our garbage or a recyclable container or piece of plastic in our garbage. It all goes into the recycle bin! My small family of three is also learning ways (much thanks to this blog) on ways to become more frugal. I have adopted the local thrift stores as my shopping malls! I get so excited to find great deals there. I guess my bottom line is that we all need to pick and choose what is right for us and support others in their choices.

    • Kristen says

      Yup, I follow her blog! I like her no-waste ideas, although some of them aren’t manageable for those of us who live in less green-friendly areas (for instance, I don’t have access to many of the bulk options she does).

      Hopefully more packaging-free options will become available across the country as time goes on.

  17. says

    I dry my laundry on a line during most of the year…all year long except January and February or when there is snow on the ground. There are a few warmer days in Jan and Feb where I can manage to get the clothes out on the line. My sisters don’t hang out their clothes. They use their dryers. That is their choice. Mine, is the hang them out. It really has nothing to do with economics with me. I like the way my clothes smell and feel when I hang them out. Plus, I have the time to hang them out.

    I read the Non Consumer Advocate blog. I like the blog, it opens my mind to different ways to live. Do I buy new products? Yes. It works for me but I do also go to some thrift stores. That’s my choice.

    I am a consultant for a kitchen tool company. Do I believe in my product line? Most definately, YES. I really believe if it helps people stay home and cook, then the products will save them money. It is a choice and everyone has their own budgets and their own lifestyle that works for them.

    So, if you don’t want to hang out your clothes, not a problem.

  18. Kris says

    There is a certain amount of anonymity online that can unfortunately lead us to one of the following:
    1) feeling (and saying so!) superior because of the choices we have made and the lifestyle we live
    2) feeling inferior because of the choices we have made and the lifestyle we live
    And yes, I have been guilty on both counts. Let’s do as Kristen says and choose grace.

  19. Blessedx4kidz says

    I concur with you completely, Kristen!
    I love my line during the late spring-summer. I love my dryer during cold/rainy times. Some things just need a dryer – period.
    I have to smile about the comment regarding those who would frown upon paying someone for house cleaning. For those who have a problem with people who chose to pay for services, did it ever occur that those “money-wasters” are providing an income to the service providers? They are part of a free enterprise system that keeps our economy moving? And perhaps, at the root of being”horrified” over the notion of paying for services, is a bit of jealousy or envy?
    There will always be nit-pickers, fault-finders, and those who try to turn the simplest thing into a competition. My sister, who lives near an Amish community, told me there is even an unspoken competition among the Amish women to see who can get their wash on the line first! Heaven help the lady whose laundry is last. Really?
    Life is too short, there are bigger fish to fry, and a little grace and understanding would be welcome as we all strive to do what’s best for our families.

  20. Arleen says

    I would never think to ‘judge’ another on the basis of how they dry their laundry. I dryer dry because it is my only choice now, and used to line dry when I was able. I SO miss the smell of line dried sheets…I am envious when I pass a home with sheets on the line. Towels or jeans, not so much.

  21. Ashley says

    I think it’s important to remember that the weather varies a lot depending on where you live. I live on the west coast in BC, and we’ve had maybe two or three sunny days in the past month. Here it rains most of the year! But, on the other hand, winters are mild so we don’t use much electricity to heat our home.

    The other issue is that most of my friends with families don’t own their own house (including us) because housing is ridiculously expensive here. It’s not even possible to line dry for a lot of people.

    Everyone’s life experience is different :)

  22. Judy says

    It is actually kind of humorous for people to get in a twit over how someone else dries their laundry! Rudeness seems to be rampant online in a lot of cases. Personally, I’ve line-dried and used the dryer. We lived in No. Ca with rain for months in the winter. Now in NM in the summer things can dry in 10 minutes outside.
    The bigger factor for me is just getting the laundry done and there are only two of us now. I remember feeling buried under laundry and we only had two kids. Kristen, kudos to you for just keeping up with the laundry for six of you- no matter how it is sorted, washed, dried, folded, and put away!

  23. says

    I agree with you, we all have different ways of frugality! For instance, I never wash the dishes, they goes into the dishwasher, something people might “oh my, what a waste” but then I bake and cook literally all the food we eat, and never buy half-fabricated food.

    • says

      I’ve actually read that modern dishwashers use less energy than washing by hand, since the vast majority of the energy used in doing dishes comes from energy used to heat the water. I’m not entirely sure this is always true, it could just be industry propaganda – but with nearly 20 cat food dishes to wash every day, I choose to believe it, and always use the dishwasher! :-)

      • Elaine in Ark says

        The dishwasher will sanitize your cats’ dishes better than hand washing, too. I pop my dogs’ food and water bowls in the dishwasher for that reason.

        • Elaine in Ark says

          Although my dogs will dig up creatures in the backyard and eat them, and drink dirty puddle water at every opportunity. The “sanitary food and water bowls” are just things that make me feel like a good dog mom.

        • says

          Actually, one of my cats has a problem with “feline acne.” He gets little black bumps on his chin. It’s apparently caused by lingering bacteria on food and water dishes. Since I started putting them in the dishwasher using the sanitize cycle his acne has cleared up. I’m a believer!

        • michelle says

          this is assuming u a washing a full load? what if you only use a couple a plates/cups per day & would have to wait until you were almost completely out of dishes to run it.

          • Kristen says

            If I only used a few per day, then yes, I’d just wash them by hand. But with our family of 6, we have nooo problem filling up the dishwasher every day!

  24. Heather Anne says

    Your words are so right. Often we don’t consider how things maybe for someone else. I know that God has been dealing with my heart in areas that I have come to rash decisions and judgements on others. We can encourage each other, share ideas and even challenge each other along this journey but we should not think because we are convicted/compelled to do something that all others ought to do the same. (I’m reminded of Paul’s writings in the New Testament about convictions for eating certain meat. )

    Personally I LOVE to hang out my laundry but I hate crunchy jeans and towels so I dry them. I do not make my own laundry detergent because it is not my top priority but I love making my own deoderant. I try to eat organic and what I feel is healthy but at the same time I like to have a night off and will use a coupon or gift card to eat out at a local diner.

    Life is full of choices and I love the “small thought” you shared. None of us are perfect and we need to offer each other the grace we would wish to be shown to us. Your thought is both freeing and convicting. :)

    • WilliamB says

      Heather Anne, I have the enthusiam of a convert when it comes to laundry detergent. Which leads me to ask, have you made it before? If so, what about the process didn’t work for you?

  25. says

    I love the example you set with your non-judgmental attitude. I’ve been reading your blog for years because I always learn from your posts- not just how to be frugal, but how to live with more grace and greater contentment.

  26. Courney says

    Hallelujah! We all make choices and sacrifices that fit us and our families/lifestyles best. This was also a good mirror for myself as i may or may not have looked down my nose at the neighbor who pays to have their driveway plowed despite having four able-bodied adults living there. Thank you!

  27. Kristin says

    Here’s a thought from someone who works in the electricity business and may give a different spin on it.

    There are already plants out there – I don’t know who your electric service provider is, but they likely have lots of those coal-fired plants, maybe a nuclear plant or two. These plants run all the time, even during the night when hardly a soul is awake. Why is that? Well, these plants provide what is called the “baseload”. They are very hard to ramp up/ramp down. Nuclear is a good baseload (it takes days to start up a nuclear plant), whereas natural gas is something that is very easy to ramp up/ramp down so doesn’t get used as baseload.

    I would argue that it’s not so important HOW much electricity you use so much as WHEN you use it. You want to be using it in what is called “off-peak”. This means NOT the time of highest electricity consumption. In Texas, that’s in the summer, 4-7PM, when everyone comes home in 110 degree weather and kicks up their A/C, starts dinner, and turns on the dishwasher and the TV. It’s usage at THIS time of day that is causing the *additional* power plants to be built. So if you avoid usage at your state and electricity company’s “peak” time, you’re *not* going to be contributing to that additional plant being built. If you shift to “off-peak”, you’re just going to be using electricity that was sitting there anyway.

  28. says

    This is a topic that has been bothering me for awhile. It seems that sometimes it’s hard for others to see that the way they have chosen is not the best way for everyone. Thanks for giving all us a reminder that one size does not fit all. And some day in the perfect world, none of us will feel the need to defend our choices to those who may judge us.

  29. says

    Exactly! I pay a very high rent to live in my apartment which backs up to a nature preserve with a walking trail and has a fabulous swimming pool. I figure the monthly rent contributes to my mental and physical health so I need need no medical or therapy visits. Sitting on my porch observing nature, walking on the trail and swimming in the pool all make me happy and healthy. Others would spend that money somewhere else, but to me this is what’s important.

  30. Jennifer says

    It’s funny that someone who does so much to be frugal and “green” is still criticized for not making every single choice in the most green way. I think you’re great. I love your blog! I envy your glass storage containers. I’m trying to slowly increase my supply but it’s expensive going since I have a family of 4 packing lunches most days of the week. And I love your food waste encouragement. I think it’s one of the bigger problems we’re facing right now. Working hard to get better!

  31. corinne says

    I love what someone below said about extending grace. Maybe the neighbor (in your example) has someone clean her house because she has cancer and treatments exhaust her, even if she hasn’t shared that with the neighbors. Maybe the long-showering cousin needs the moist-warmth to loosen stiff joints and function. Maybe some of those folks who use the dryer don’t line dry because it exponentially increases allergy problems in their home. There is just so little that we really know about other people and so little to be gained from judging or comparing. So much to be gained by focusing on doing the best we can with the life-package we have–and encouraging others as they do the same.

  32. lisa says

    You said it well.

    You are not here to be perfect or impress anyone or pretend to be something you are not.

    Just continue to be who you are : happy, loving, patient, hardworking human being.

  33. Marthalynn says

    Kristen, this just made my day. My problem is not judgement from others, it’s judgement from myself! See, I’ve been pretty hard on myself for not line-drying. In my pursuit of a greener and more frugal life it feels wrong to still use my dryer. However, I was having a difficult time spending the money on a line-drying contraption because I had this nagging feeling I’d end up hating it. We live right by the interstate and I can’t get over the feeling that my clothes will come off the line all smogged and pollened up – dirtier than when they when out! I also barely feel like I have enough time as it is, so making an everyday task take longer was another thing making line-drying seem so unappealing. What your post has done for me, is allow me to apply grace to myself. I can stop obsessing over how Ms. Soandso line dries and is more frugal and green than I am and how I should be trying harder. You’re right, it’s all about perspective. Ah, that feels like a burden has been lifted!

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