Every year, tens of millions of socks mysteriously disappear. The phenomenon creates social, economic and personal psychological problems that create an untold burden on society. Everyone seems to have a theory as to why one sock in a nicely matched pair often goes missing. Here are just a few:
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• Sock pairs have the same magnetic charge, causing them to repel farther and farther from each other over time.
• The peculiar rotational speed and mass of the dryer causes a black hole to form that sucks socks into an alternate space/time continuum.
• An obnoxious imp lives in your laundry room and steals them to annoy you.
As one would expect, all of these far-fetched—and, frankly, ridiculous—explanations are dead wrong.
That's why the Laundered and Orphaned Sock Society (L.O.S.S) was formed—to dispel junk science and wives' tales, and find the real cause of “sock loss.”
And the stark truth that we've uncovered through years of intensive research is that our socks are simply running away.
Yes, shocking but true. Thousands of candid interviews with estranged footwear have pinpointed the prevailing problem: It is us and, more specifically, our laundry equipment.
Through L.O.S.S., socks who have felt unappreciated and mistreated finally have a voice to make us aware of their grievances: overdrying, “load abandonment,” ironing, and sock puppetry, to name just a few.
Our solution is one part behavioral and one part technological:
Behavior: Understand the difficult and valuable purpose socks serve and treat them accordingly. Remember, they're with us every step of the way.
Technology: Replace antiquated—and sometimes downright medieval—laundry equipment with kinder, more progressive technology like GE's “Laundry Your Way” washers and dryers.
Load Abandonment: Ever wash a load of clothes and forget to transfer it to the dryer? Yep, it usually sits for hours, if not days. Imagine if someone left you in a dark, damp hole. Then when you were discovered, you had to be washed all over again.
Overdrying: Much like load abandonment, but you just spun the dial wildly, turned on the dryer and went to bed. In the meantime, your poor gentle socks are roasting and shrinking. And your electricity bill is ballooning.
Load Overcrowding: You cram as much laundry in the machine as possible, which, of course, leads to overstuffed loads that aren't cleaned properly. Remember, socks are small and they tend to feel intimidated in these conditions.
Detergent Overdose: Without an accurate, reliable way to dispense detergent, people tend to use too much. This isn't good for socks or any of your other laundry. And it costs you time and money.
Wash Cycles of Abuse: Unenlightened laundry equipment can be quite unpleasant for socks. Jarring vibrations and harsh wash cycles make their lives miserable. And isn't a sock's life tough enough already? Launder with kindness, we say.
Sock Puppetry: The worst of all injustices. It's bad enough when socks are used as puppets by their owners. It's even worse when runaway socks—known in the community as “solos”—are forced to engage in puppetry to survive.
L.O.S.S. was founded in 1966, the brainchild and passion of Jennings Goper, a full-time laundromat owner and amateur scientist, inventor and social activist. Mr. Goper first investigated the sock loss phenomenon after his customers complained of a higher than usual number of missing socks. After years of intense investigation, Goper suspected he knew the real cause of the phenomenon and focused his work—all unpaid—on improving laundry conditions. In 1965, he published his first article on his findings in the Journal of Laundry and Dry Cleaning Sciences and attracted a small but passionate band of followers who became the charter members of L.O.S.S.
Our new headquarters at 1452 Lightfoot Path, Cottonwood, IL
Marlene Feltser-Blum, Chairwoman of the Board
Known for her feet-on-the-ground style of leadership and uncanny domestic insight, Marlene has turned L.O.S.S. from an earnest-but-little-known non-profit into the authority on sock loss and the leading proponent of sweeping laundry reform. She joined the organization as a housewife and unpaid volunteer and quickly proved invaluable, heading groundbreaking initiatives such as the Soft Shoe Dance Marathon awareness campaign and architecting the Wash Cycle of Abuse Diagnostic Standard (WCADS). She was unanimously elected as Chairwoman after only six years with L.O.S.S.
Dr. Alan Wankle, PhD, Head of Research
Working to understand sock loss for over four decades, Dr. Wankle has been indispensable to the L.O.S.S. cause. A graduate with honors from Faber University, he earned his doctorate at the prestigious Institut des Sciences de Textiles in Ville de Detachant, Switzerland. Alan first met the father of the sock loss movement, Jennings Goper, at the 1976 Winter Olympic games in Innsbruck, Austria, while serving as a uniform consultant for Andorra's Women's Luge team. He joined L.O.S.S. in 1978 as a research fellow and has held a number of prestigious posts since, being named Head of Research in 1989.
Lorna Toslinde, Head of Public Relations and Social Affairs
The support of the caring public is one of our greatest strengths, and Lorna is the tireless and charming face of the L.O.S.S. organization. After a lucrative career as a self-described “all-purpose extremities model—blessed with equally lovely hands and feet,” Ms. Toslinde started her own Public Relations firm focusing on extremities initiatives but with special emphasis on footwear, who, in her words, “has the toughest and most thankless job.” She joined our organization in 2005 and continues to run her own business while also working full-time at L.O.S.S.
Dr. Odo von Ziegenhagen, Chief of Laundry Science Innovation
As a young officer in the new West German army in the days after World War II, “Dr. Z” worked on emerging equipment and garment concepts. He quickly recognized the importance of “unterwasche der fube,” or literally “undergarments of the feet,” in protecting the soldiers' vulnerable feet from injury and disease. He grew so fascinated with the simple and rugged purpose of his “wenig fubvolk” (little foot soldiers) that he decided to make them his life's work. He joined L.O.S.S. shortly after its inception in 1967 and established its first overseas office in Bremen, Germany. He also volunteers his free time to counsel victims of sock puppetry.
Agatha J. Pennyworth, Chief Liaison for Fabric and Textile Constituencies
While L.O.S.S. still considers itself a grassroots organization, some change needs to come from the top down. Mrs. Pennyworth served as the CEO of Killington Nardelay International Textiles (KNIT) before bringing her deep network of industry and government contacts to our organization. Ms. Pennyworth has been instrumental in promoting pro-orphan-sock legislation such as No Solo Left Behind, and promotes more responsible laundry industry practices. She spends much of her spare time matching estranged solos.
Franklin P. Downer, Exchequer and Director of Fundraising
As an investment financier, Franklin Downer has cornered the cotton market and protected the wool commodities market from exploitation. It was only natural that he put his affinity for natural fibers to good use as L.O.S.S.'s Director of Fundraising. Due to its growth, L.O.S.S. requires larger budgets to expand its efforts, and Mr. Downer's savvy leadership, warm smile, and firm handshake has let us keep pace with our burgeoning influence. He has also authored the critically acclaimed book LIE-CRA: Stretching the Economic Truths of Legwear.