Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hang a Line, Save a Dime

At some point last summer, a few months into writing the blog, I was thinking about topics to write about in future posts. As I was driving down Lake Road, I happened to look over at one of the houses and what did I see looming in the backyard? A clothesline. And yep, and there was a fresh load out there blowing in the breeze drying away.

It got me thinking: That’s a real simple thing to do to conserve energy at home. Dryers have to be one of the biggest energy hogs in your house (I’ve never seen an Energy Star-rated one). So why don’t we see more clotheslines out there anymore? It seemed like a throwback to yesteryear.

So I filed that thought away, figuring I’d bring it out sometime this summer. Well lo and behold, I stumbled across this New York Times article today and what do you know? The topic of clotheslines is a big thing (relatively speaking, of course). It seems that more and more people out there recognize that letting their clothes dry outside is a simple thing that not only helps the planet, it helps their wallet. But alas, the Jones' aren’t who they used to be and most folks wouldn’t be caught dead letting their tee shirts, let alone underwear, be seen by their neighbors. (Maybe if we talked to our neighbors more and actually knew them, this wouldn’t be such a big deal…)

The Times article, led me to Project Laundry List, a NH-based non-profit dedicated to promoting air drying of clothes as a means for reducing household energy use. Get a load of that. Off their homepage you can link to a slew of stories all about the growing movement and obstacles that many face (both self-induced and community influenced) in throwing up a line. You can also link to their retail partner for a whole host of air drying paraphernalia.

I’ll be the first to say that it is not just as easy as putting up a T-bar, stringing some line, and (first finding, then) buying some clothespins. You need to make sure everyone in your household is on board with you, which is not always the case (personally speaking). But I’m going to try to come at it again this year and start small – maybe the blankets or towels or other non-gender-based items – and take it from there.

How about you? Do you dry your stuff outside? Would you? Why not?


Anonymous said...

Clotheslines, yes! I have been hanging clothes since I was old enough to reach the line, whether i liked it or not! When I was growing up the first thing we had to shovel after a snowstorm was the path to the clothesline! I don't ever remember my mother using the dryer and the upside of bringing all those flash-frozen clothes into the house in winter was the moisture and fresh air they added to the dry, stale air inside! And yes, after you drape them all around the house they dry fairly quickly as they thaw out!

I am not as devout as my mother but have some of the few children around who actually know what a clothesline is. And the poor folks on the next street over from me have a ridiculous restriction in their neighborhood against clotheslines! I ALWAYS hang my sheets and wish I had fresh, air-dried sheets on my bed every night, they are incredible! In the summer I hang everything and sometimes even hang them at night and they are dry by the time I get out there in the morning. And I have five kids!

If you are shy about showing your neighbors your latest purchases from Victoria Secret, think again. All that lint you clean out of the dryer not only signals what is usually the largest use of electricity in your house, it is actually your clothes being worn out that much quicker! And you can always strategically hang them on an interior line where they can be surrounded by innocuous items like towels!

In this day and age when the average American spends about 20 minutes outside each day, hanging the clothes has the added benefit of getting you outdoors, breathing in fresh air, paying attention to the weather out your window, listening to the birds, spending much less on your electric bill, and doing your part to help save the planet!

Tillerman said...

I'm with you. Drying clothes outside is absolutely the right way to go.

Unfortunately I live in a community in Tiverton where the rules of the residents' association prohibit us from drying clothes outside. And I'm sure we are not unique in this respect.

Maybe more publicity on this issue will make such associations change such rules.



Thanks for the note. You bring up a great point (and good follow-up on your blog. Beyond pursuing legislation (a lovely venture always...) folks can always try to "infiltrate" their HOAs directly by becoming a board member and begin the push for less restrictive measures when it comes to living a more green lifestyle.

Do you have a sense of how many HOA's we have in town, or will in the future (e.g., Cottrell Farms)?

What other "green" things does your HOA ban?

tillerman said...

I've just checked our association covenant again and I don't think there are any other "green" things that are banned, unless you count a requirement that each lot be landscaped with lawns, shrubs and trees. I am planning to leave part of my yard as a natural habitat for native species thereby saving on water, fertilizer and weedkiller. So I hope I don't get into trouble with my neighbors for that. (Of course someone who doesn't appreciate our native wildflowers might say that what I am doing is just letting the weeds grow... and they would be right!)

Don't know how many HOA's there are in town as we only recently moved in, but there are certainly a few others that we found while househunting, though I never got as far as reading their restrictive covenants.

Thanks for your suggestion about infiltrating the board of the HOA. I might well have to do that eventually.

Keep up the good work with the blog. Mine is mainly about sailing though I will write occasionally about environmental issues again if something gets me going.