I never thought much about the wasteful nature of drying sheets until I was forced to quarantine. Like most people who suddenly found themselves with extra time to mull over their life choices, I started reevaluating how I could shrink my carbon footprint—from shopping habits to grocery trips and eventually over to laundry day. I’d considered purchasing dryer balls in the past and true to my millennial ways, I noticed the Five Two wool version offered up on Food52 first for its aesthetically pleasing nature. But they remained in my “eco-friendly buys” bookmark folder rather than my shopping cart for months on end.
When I got into a weekly habit of loading and unloading the same variation of sweats, workout clothes, and the occasional pair of jeans for trips to the supermarket, the single use nature of dryer sheets started to bug me more than usual. Akin to makeup wipes, I know they’re bad for the environment (and reportedly often contain potentially toxic chemicals that can linger on your laundry and irritate sensitive skin) but they’d become such a staple in my routine that I thought replacing them might throw everything off kilter. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself and society as a whole over the past couple of months though it’s our ability to adapt. And once I moved past what faintly sounded like tiny babies rolling around in my dryer, it took me no time at all to embrace these new wool replacements.
On top of adding a certain flair to my laundry load, the real benefit of these three softball-sized dryer balls is that they decrease drying time and, as a result, reduce static. They’re also handmade by Nepalese women and last for years. According to the website, “if you do a load of laundry every single day, they’ll last more than 2 1/2 years” which means you’ll save a whole lot of dryer sheets from ending up in landfills. One thing I do miss about my former laundry days is the pleasant just-out-of-the-washing-machine smell that those little white rectangles enhanced, but that can easily be replaced by adding a few drops of essential oils to the balls before a cycle (my personal favorites are lavender and eucalyptus).
And, yes, while consumers aren’t solely to blame for our current environmental crisis and, in reality, we should be directing our anger primarily toward fossil fuel companies, until they take accountability and make impactful changes, these wool wonders help to make my eco-conscious conscience feel a wee bit better.
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