Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Clotheslines Making a Comeback
Have you heard about the solar clothes dryer? It harnesses the heat of the sun to dry your clothes. But that’s not all. It can remove bacteria from fabric, while also leaving your clothes smelling fresh and clean. Its available today at no cost to you.
No, this is not an advertisement for a new solar powered clothes dryer but a simple reminder that hanging clothes on a line to dry naturally from the warmth of the sun is a cost and energy saving alternative.
Electric and gas dryers are second only to refrigerators and air conditioners as the top energy consumers in most homes. In fact, dryers use ten to fifteen percent of domestic energy in the United States, and you’d be hard pressed to find any home without one.
Clotheslines were once commonplace, dotting lawns in suburbia and rural areas and hanging from windows and balconies in cities nationwide. Over time, however, clotheslines are often considered unsightly signs of poverty that devalue property. Nationwide, about 60 million people live in about 300,000 community associations, most of which restrict or prohibit outdoor laundry hanging.
Despite restrictive covenants and outdated thinking, clothesline are making a comeback, thanks in part to grassroots organizations such as Project Laundry List (Projectlaundrylist.org), a non-profit group that promotes sun drying (or indoor air-drying) as an “acceptable, desirable, simple and effective” way to save energy.
According to Project Laundry List, legislation in Colorado was passed last year allowing thousands of families to use clothesline in communities where they were formerly banned. So far this year clothesline legislation has been debated in several states, including Maryland, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Oregon, Virginia, and Vermont.
To further that effort, Right2Dry.org has launched a viral petition drive to encourage America’s First Family to hang their laundry on the White House lawn for just one day. The idea is to create a photo op to promote line drying as a “symbol of patriotism and intelligence and environmental activism, rescuing it from the symbol of poverty and despair it seems to represent today.”
With an estimated savings of about 15 percent on your energy bill, money and energy conservation are compelling reasons to limit clothes dryer use, but there are other benefits as well. Line drying helps clothes stay newer longer because they aren’t tumbling against the inside walls of a dryer – check the lint filter for proof of such damage. Being exposed to fresh air and sunshine adds a natural fragrance without the use of chemicals. The rays of the sun act as a natural disinfect for clothes, also without chemicals. Reducing dryer use also has safety benefits, since dryer fires account for several deaths, hundreds of injuries and millions in property damage each year. One added bonus – youngsters will learn a “new” meaning for the word clothesline that has nothing to do with professional wrestling.
For most people eliminating dryer use entirely would be difficult. Certainly there are those who may not want to hang their unmentionables on the line for all the neighbors to see and rain and humidity can make outside drying impossible. However, the less you run your dryer, the more money and energy you save, so every little bit helps. It may take a bit more effort, but this is one of those small steps that nearly everyone can take to help our planet be healthier, one t-shirt, bathing suit, washcloth and several clothes pins at a time.