The neighbor, who taught me the scrub brush technique, uses a chemical laundry detergent. It is packed with environment-killing phosphates that were long ago banned in the States. So, those companies started exporting them to the Third World. (Neighbor washing clothes in Bolivia. Photo by Lynette Yetter)
The soap idea I learned from a rural family, with whom I lived for some time. They told me they used to use a fruit from a certain tree that lathers up, much like the soap root native to the central coast of California. But, with U.S.-style consumerism being promoted worldwide, they started buying soap.
I wonder how the environment reacts to the soap I use. Anyone know if natural animal fat soap water is good for irrigating organic vegetable gardens?
In the countryside, we washed our clothes on rocks in the river. They had a special rock that was flat and angled into the water. You spread each item of wet clothing, one at a time, on the rock. Then you rub a bar of soap all over the surface of the clothing. Then grab a wad of the bottom of the clothing, and pin down the top with your other hand, and scrub. Every now and then you pour water over the item of clothing. And scrub some more.
You can even make your own soap! Sell it and make money.
Washing by hand is good exercise. Save yet more money because you won't need to go to the gym or an exercise class. Get your workout in the Andean way. Labor with your hands.
6. Don't buy new underwear.
Did you know that underwear is a recent invention? That's right. Check it out for yourself. Google "history" and "underwear" and see what you find.
Traditional indigenous women here in the Andes often don't use underwear. It is a very practical habit. When you have the urge to urinate, you just poosh out your big skirts like a tent and squat in the field or the street or wherever. Guys no longer have a monopoly on using the world as their urinal.
You save money! As your old cotton underwear falls apart, you can cut it up and use it for when you are "on the rag."