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Volume 68, Issue 102, Monday, February 24, 2003


Buy clothes, ease pollution woes

Jonathan Bruder
Opinion Columnist

I canit stand doing laundry. I donit like soap. I donit like cleaning. Soap is bad for the environment, isnit it?

I have an idea. Americans can stop doing laundry altogether.

We can start with Laundromats. Letis shut them all down. They generate millions of gallons of soapy water every day. These behemoth polluters must be stopped. They need to be destroyed before they become a massive threat to the security of our purple mountainsi majesty and amber waves of grain. Besides, people who work hard can afford their own machines -- until we solve this laundry problem for good.

It wouldnit change much. People that keep their clothes in a heap on the floor would still just keep them in a heap on the floor. They wouldnit be any dirtier. Maybe just a little more "European." Hard working people should be willing to give up clean clothes for the good of this nation, shouldnit they?

No, I suppose not. Well instead, let us buy more clothes. We can throw them away at the end of every week and spend weekends in malls honing our quick shopping skills. After all, it takes a while to buy a complete new wardrobe. Iim sure that after a few weeks every American will be a professional couture consumer.

On second thought, thatis a great idea -- people who buy our clothes. For a small fee, we could have a trained artist select a new week of clothes every Saturday. We could write software to replace the artist. Specialized mobile phones could have a built-in PWA -- thatis a Personal Wardrobe Assistant to the uninformed.

But what would be done with the discarded clothes? There are several ways that old clothes could be used to improve the environment and quality of life.

One could save landfill space. Washers and dryers are built to hold clothes in the first place, so fill them up before you toss them out. And with the recent increase in the number of sports-utility-vehicles on the road, clothes could solve the horrible cloth rag shortage that is plaguing the automobile industry. Iim sure youive heard SUVs use a lot of dirty gas and oil, so to keep them clean and in good shape, one needs lots of fine-knit, strong, disposable, Banana Republic-brand cloth rags.

There will still be people who need clothes, so we can hand them down. It is the citizenis duty to lobby congress for a national hand-me-down plan. The top two percent of the nationis wealthiest, which control 90 percent of Americais clothing, could give their old clothes to the middle-class, through whom they would eventually pass to the nameless poor.

We can ask our representatives to name it after our greatest president, international friendliness advocate and social economist, Ronald Reagan. Did I mention that he was an actor? I can hear the title now -- "The Ronald Reagan Beverly Hills Plan for Muliti-tier Trickle-Down Garbonomics." When the economy is doing poorly, we can give it a boost by offering subsidies to Fendi buyers.

We could export labor to countries where people donit have enough to eat so they can make more money and be more like the Americans. We can pay them for their goods with the clothes that have made it all the way down the chain -- the ones we donit want anymore. 

We can trade them our old clothes for their new ones. Oh. Maybe it isnit such a good idea after all.

Bruder, a junior graphic communications and physics major, can be reached at


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