Things Organized Neatly may be the Tumblr window to my soul. I’m crazy about it. I’m also crazy about — in the sense that I am neurotic about — things like drying racks, fridge organization, the best way to sort socks. Perhaps it’s in my genes. One of my earliest memories is sitting on a table with piles of daddy’s (mostly identical) gold-toe socks, matching pairs by–wait for it–wear pattern and fading. A few pairs had even helpfully had a loop of colorful thread sewn in at the top to facilitate even easier sorting.
At various points in recent history, environmentalist has been synonymous with “dirty hippy,” and organization is not something that necessarily comes to mind when you think about environmentalists. I dropped out of a vegan co-op because I couldn’t stand all the food waste… due to fridge organization. Or rather, the lack thereof. The connection between organization and environmentalism is, for me, clear.
Many anti-environmental decisions in our individual lives (like driving somewhere when you could walk, or ripping off a paper towel to sop something up instead of using something reusable) are based on prioritizing convenience over conscientiousness. Making environmentally-friendlier choices more efficient can help make them into the “easy option.” Being organized can save time and money, too.
But how do you do “being organized”? Here, I’m going to indulge my neurotic side and give you the rundown on tips and tricks for drying rack and fridge optimization. Am I leaving something out? Comment with your own solutions!
A lot of posters giving you “ten ways to save the world” or whatever tout using a drying rack instead of an electric dryer to dry clothes. While I wouldn’t go so far as to save the world, I will say that this is a good idea. Here are other side benefits just to get you really warmed up to the idea:
- clothes tend to shrink/stretch less dramatically when dried en plein air, which means they fit better and last longer
- if you don’t own a dryer, you can save a ton of quarters
- even if you do own a dryer, you can prioritize its use and use the drying rack simultaneously (personally this saves me time, because it means I’m not waiting on a bunch of sequential loads)
- if it’s really dry (which it might be, especially indoors in the winter), clothes may dry even faster than they would in the machine!
Okay, cool, we’re into it. Here are the drying rack organizational principles:
#1: Air flow is key
More important than air temperature is air flow. The more space between garments or bedding, the better. The drying rack pictured to the left is pretty extreme–usually drying racks are much smaller, so you have to be even smarter about space usage.
Jeans, sweaters, and towels are the three things that consistently take the most time to dry. So, I try to place them as far away from each other as possible, with quick-drying items in between. As these items dry, I can remove them, throw them in a laundry basket, and speed up the drying process of the ultra-heavy stuff even further.
#2: Location, location, location
I like to keep the laundry basket near the drying rack, and the drying rack in a room where I’ll be frequently throughout the day (without having it in the way, ideally). You can often find drying racks about the right size to go under a window; here in Lyon I even have one that hooks onto the radiator under the window (perfect!).
At college, I would sometimes set up the drying rack in the kitchen sheerly out of desperation for space, but then I found myself folding towels or tee shirts in down time between taking things in and out of the oven and it actually seemed like a good idea. You’ve got to be considerate about housemates, but as long as they’re on board with it, hanging up stuff to dry or taking it off the rack can also be a great way to keep your hands busy while chatting about your days.
Ideally, the laundry basket can slip under the rack and be ready whenever something’s dry. The fewer things on the rack, the faster these things will dry, so if you think about it, it’s always good to give a little check and see if you can take something else down.
#3: Love it and leave it
Alternatively, if you’re not at home all the time looking for things to fiddle with, you can very simply lay out everything neatly on the drying rack and then leave it. In a few days, everything will be dry, you can fold it all up in one go and put the drying rack away while you’re at it. The point is, you’re using the drying rack.
Poor fridge organization kills me. It inevitably leads to food waste, and it’s so damned expensive!
#1: Basics in place
Just because it’s a vegetable drawer doesn’t mean vegetables need to go there. But basics like butter, milk, eggs, bacon (or whatever your basics are) should go in the same place every time you buy them. This way, you know exactly how much you have, you can quickly judge when you’ll be out, and you don’t have to rummage around forever only to discover that no, you actually don’t have a second carton lurking somewhere and will just have to eat cereal dry this morning thankyouverymuch.
#2: Preservation is the name of the game
Milk spoils much more easily than butter; the door of the fridge changes temperature much more than, say, the middle shelf. It might be a good idea to put the milk on a shelf, and the butter on the door, eh?
The leftovers and odds and ends that will spoil the quickest are the things that should be basically the easiest to spot in your fridge. If you’re following #1 already, you have the locations of your basic supplies more or less memorized, and so you can save an eye-grabbing spot for leftovers you might otherwise easily forget and let spoil. For me, this is often the top shelf, right in the middle.
Reserve the shadowy corners of your fridge for condiments that can be forgotten for a while.
#3: Banish the darkness
… but saying that, it’s better not to forget about anything in your fridge, really.Try to keep the minimum supplies on hand, and keep it neat. If something does spoil or spill, clean it up as soon as you can. That kind of mess tends to spread, only leading to more death and destruction (of legumes). Don’t be afraid of a little empty space, although if you find your fridge is mostly air, you’ll want to place containers of water in the back of the fridge to help maintain a constant temperature (or just keep a pitcher of water in there and you’ll always have chilled water handy!).
In general, a little bit of forethought can make these mundane tasks go so much smoother than they would if approached haphazardly. Consciously thinking about daily tasks for a while can pay off–once you get into a pattern, you may find that this even gives you more time to think about more important matters!