Monday, February 18, 2013

Three Hoaxes

1.  Electric and gas clothes dryers--completely unnecessary.
     Clothes dryers use about 12% of a household's energy.  Americans buy 6.5 million dryers per year, at $950 to $2,050 each, and run on average 416 cycles per year.  82% Americans households use dryers--but that means 18% do not!
     The Japanese love modern innovations, but they haven't been bamboozled, like Americans, into buying dryers.  They hang up all their clothes, even in cities.  Many Europeans prefer hanging out clothes too:  even in metropolitan areas there are clotheslines strung from one apartment building to the next, shared by families who live on the same level.
     You can save 12% on your utility bill, or $30 per month by getting rid of your dryer--plus, you'll have space where the dryer used to be.  In Florida, even on rainy days there is often enough dry-time for clothes to air-dry.
     Hanging clothes outside takes advantage of two natural disinfectants:  sunshine and wind.  Clothes smell great, after a few hours in the outdoors, and they last longer, because elastic and fabric aren't worn down by the caustic effects of heat and electrostatic energy.
     Put up a two-line clothesline:  use a post-hole digger to make four holes two feet deep, insert four posts, pour concrete (or use dry concrete, which sets without water), and string up clothesline with four eye-bolts.  Purchase a few packets of clothespins (a very cool invention) and opt out of the corporate hoax of automatic clothes dryers.

2.  Box springs:  ugly, heavy, and dust-attracting.
     The usual reasons given for buying box springs are to keep the mattress from sagging, elevate the bed, and provide extra support.  But a wooden frame bed with a plywood base is more supportive than box springs, and can be built to any height.  Mattresses are more likely to sag when box springs are used, because the springs lose resilience over time.
     Most Asians don't use box springs, but have platform beds.  More and more Americans are switching to platform beds, with foam mattresses, which come in many different densities and may help to reduce back problems resulting from soft mattresses.
     Box springs cost $300 to $1,200, and rack up the cost of buying a new bed.  They aren't necessary!

3.  a)  Fabric softeners: toxic chemicals next to your skin
     b) Commercial laundry detergent:  high-cost toxic waste 
     Here are the active components in fabric softener:

          *dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride
              (a quarternary ammonium compound)
              (silicone-containing chemicals--wasn't silicone outlawed, for
               breast implants?)
          *dipalmitoylehtyl hydroxyethylmonium methylsulfate

     If you wouldn't eat these substances, you shouldn't put them next to your skin.  Everything you apply to your skin ends up, more or less, in your bloodstream.  One soap company capitalized on this effect several years ago by marketing "caffeine soap."  If you showered with it for ten minutes in the morning, the caffeine absorption into your system was equivalent to two cups of coffee.
     Fabric softeners coat clothing fibers with a layer of chemicals, and make fabric less absorptive, which is not desirable for towels and washcloths.  Fabric softeners reduce the breathability of clothes, and cause people to sweat more.  When people wear clothes after using fabric softeners, it's as though their bodies have been encased in silicone, a chemical that reduces air circulation.
     The usual reason given for using fabric softener is to make fabric soft.  But clothes, and especially towels, naturally become softer with subsequent washings, making fabric softener unnecessary.  If you want to save money and reduce toxicity to your body and the environment, stop falling for the hoax of fabric softeners.  
      The cost of commercial laundry detergent is outrageous, and the chemicals used are unacceptable.  You can make your own safe laundry detergent for pennies a load by following these instructions:

     Cheap and Easy Laundry Detergent (Nontoxic!)
Grate one bar of soap.  Pour two quarts of boiling water over it and stir until dissolved.  Add 2 gallons water, 1/2 cup washing soda, and 1 cup Borax (both available and cheap at the grocery store or hardware store).  Stir and pour into empty plastic or glass gallon or half-gallon containers.  Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.  You may substitute 1 cup Dr. Bronner's liquid soap (at all health food stores) for the bar of soap, and save yourself the grating.  You can also use less water, resulting in a more concentrated detergent, but then you should use much less per load, even as little as one teaspoon.  


  1. What are you talking about, Anonymous? If you came in to "pick up your records," and then decided you had a few things to "talk about" with the doctor or other provider, and those things turned into advice, analysis of test results, or prescription-writing, I'm sorry to inform you that such an interaction constitutes a "face-to-face encounter," which--however much you demean it, and call the conversation and medical advice "picking up your records" is not only billable, but must be recorded in your chart as an office visit. Why? Well, in part because people like you are one of the biggest malpractice risks out there: angry, accusatory, incapable of comprehending the nature of medical practice--which is about educated talking and advice, which, in fact, you must have taken advantage of, with a professional like me, when you picked up your records, whether you thought it was friendly conversation and shouldn't be documented or billed, or not. I'm sorry to say that doctors, like lawyers, don't "chat" for nothing. And, in case you missed it in my previous posts, a "charge" is meaningless. You could have been "charged" a thousand dollars, and it would be meaningless. Payments are pre-determined by insurance companies, and doctors' charges are artifacts. How much, in fact, did your insurance company pay for that visit you discount? Much less, I'm sure, and a fair remuneration for what you received, in today's market. And were you charged for your medical records? Absolutely not, not in my office.

  2. Thanks. My family is working on items 1&3 as a project this week. We miss the smell of lined-dried sheets and towels. Does it matter what bar of soap we use? Item 2 we are already doing. Great tips!

  3. Anonymous: We did not charge anyone for records. We gave the entire chart to any patient who wished for it, and I kept no copies. There were three thousand charts to return to patients, and we gave out about half of those. No one needed to call the doctor to the front to get his or her records. If you were one of the handful of patients whose internal disturbance about how your records and perhaps your future health were going to be handled, and you needed my input, or didn't trust the front office staff, your need for reassurance and authority at that time would have taken me away from other duties. I'm sure I was happy to be of assistance, but my and my staff's time is all billable, and your problem became one that must have required a face-to-face service. Meeting all the needs of the public while closing my clinic in a professional and legally acceptable way was not easy, and my wonderful staff did an excellent job. We had almost no complaints, and the few we did get were from people who, for reasons having to do with their pasts or personalities, or because their records had been confiscated once before, had a lot of anxiety about their health, their charts, and their future care. I am sorry that you were one of them.

    1. No one "screwed up." Some patients' demands are difficult to meet. We gave patients their entire charts, without questions, without a charge, and there were only two patients out of 1,500 who took issue with the process and got angry. A medical office is not Walmart. But Walmart is opening MinuteClinics across the country, if that's the style of medicine you want. I understand from your comments that human beings, with human foibles, subject to stressors--such as imminent loss of employment, or threatening clients, or an exponential increase in workload as a business shuts down--have no place in this automated, corporatized country. I am sorry your experience of my clinic was so bad. I hope you fare better with your next physician.

  4. If you want an antibacterial detergent, use Safeguard or Dial. I prefer Dr. Bronner's liquid soap because it has no caustic, unpronounceable chemical ingredients, and because using it doesn't involve grating and melting bar soap. By the way, making your own soap is really fun, and the bars that you'll produce last for many years. These can be used for laundry detergent too. I recommend an old book called SOAP by Ann Bramson for directions, but there are only three ingredients: oil (fat), water and lye. If you use olive oil, you end up with Castille soap.

  5. Here's how to make the powder version of this detergent. Grate a bar of soap; stir it up with 1/2 cup washing soda and 1 cup borax. Put in an airtight container. Use 1/2 tsp per load of wash. Since Borax and washing soda come in such big boxes, make a whole lot and give containers to your friends. Let's put the big detergents out of business! (And save doctors a lot of office visits for chemical dermatitis.)