Wednesday, June 11, 2014

To Dry or Not To Dry

In both Turkey and the Azores, most local people do not use dryers. In fact, they do not even have dryers. This isn't because they are poor. It is simply because they consider it a very wasteful and expensive luxury item that they can easily do without. From rundown apartment buildings to luxury high rises to homes in the country and in the city, you will see clothes hanging outside. 

We lived on Base in Turkey so we had a provided dryer that we used. But in the Azores, living off Base, our dryer wasn't very good and when we ran it, our bill went up incredibly. I therefore got in the habit, especially during our second year there (when there was a lot less rain), to just hang the laundry. 

My pocketbook thanked me.

I did some basic google research during our transition to the USA. From what I could determine, not using our dryer could possibly save us about $30-$50 per month. So we asked our landlord if there were any HOA rules against laundry lines. He told us there was not. And we hung a line outside.

Twenty-four hours later our landlord called and told us he was mistaken. There was a rule, and in fact, he had already received a phone call from an irate neighbor. He was very frustrated with the neighbor for being so "in our business so fast" but said he had no choice but to ask us to take the line down. 

Now let me say that I know I don't live in Europe anymore.
I know I must accept the nuances of America.
And I know that those nuances are things that make me feel at home.
I am in no way slamming the USA.
And I am in no way saying that I don't want this to be my home.
I'm also not saying I am up on all the environmentally friendly things to do.
My kids wear disposable diapers.
Because I'm lazy.
And sometimes I buy paper plates.
I know that laundry lines don't look that nice.
And I know that we chose to move into a place with an HOA.
We respect our landlord and know this is his home.
And we are prepared to follow all rules.

We immediately took down the clothes line.

However, this little story really got me to thinking. 

How is it that we are so environmentally conscious in the USA in so many areas but we don't encourage avoiding dryer usage? We encourage moms to try cloth diapers and we recycle the heck out of things and we look down on using paper products. We get credits for using energy efficient appliances and we look into electric cars. 

But do you even know someone who doesn't have a dryer? Most places outlaw clothes lines in the USA. And even in places that they are allowed, who actually uses one?

I'm wondering if I am missing something? Again, please note that you will see posts from me in the days, weeks, and months to come discussing the differences I am seeing upon my return to America. These are not a slam on America. There are many things I think we do WAY better. It's just having your eyes opened a bit and wondering if we are just missing it or if I am missing something?



Anonymous said...

Just my opinion: I think we Americans are very environmentally conscious - as long as it isn't too inconvenient. We seem to have a national conversation about something that people aren't really willing to put much effort into. From turning off the lights to carpooling to using a clothesline... the majority of people that I know don't make a real effort to do many of those energy-saving things. I don't think I know of a single person who has a washing machine but no dryer!

For the past 10 years I used a clothes line, but mostly when I had the time and was able to be home while the clothes were out on the line. If I had to wash on a workday, or if it rained on the weekend, I just used the dryer. People didn't really make fun of me, but many said that while they sometimes thought about erecting a clothesline (we lived in a rural area, so it wasn't very regulated), they just didn't want to make the effort to hang their clothes to dry. I would like to always live in a place that will allow a clothesline and a garden, but if push comes to shove, other things may take priority.

On the one hand, I understand people not wanting to live in a neighborhood that looks "junky". But good grief - it's a clothesline! I guess to each his own. :) And being fortunate enough to live in a place with so many choices, well, quite frankly, makes some of the choices seem really silly.


MtnGirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MtnGirl said...

I haven't used a dryer for years. I hang my clothes inside the house i.e. the shower curtain rod, regular curtain rods, etc. I would hang them outside (I don't care what the HOA says! HA!), but the man of the house hasn't put up a clothes line for me so I just hang them in the laundry room and wherever else I can find a place to hang them.

Anonymous said...

I have used clothes lines ever since I was a teen and did my own laundry! I loved it in the azores because yje clothes line was outside but growing up we just had a line that ran from one side of our two car garage to the other. Same result but your clothes dont smell as fresh! :)

Anonymous said...

I live in New Zealand, and people use outside lines here.

It seems unbelievable that places would have rules against them!

I think clothes are much nicer dried in the sun and wind.

Anonymous said...

it's kinda crazy, isn't it? there's nothing like the smell of sheets that have been dried outside - wonderful! And, sunlight gets out kid food stains on clothes really, really well.
Hang in there, and when you have your acerage/farm, you can hang as many clothes lines as you want!
HOA's can really be a pain...

Anonymous said...

You can buy drying racks at Target, Walmart, etc. I have 2 of them. I do not have a clothes line, but have a daughter with severe allergies, so she would be pretty miserable if her stuff was hung on a line. We Americans like convenience, thus the use of our dryers!

Anneli Tre said...

I live in a house in France and use a clothes line during the summer - I love the freshness of clothes and sheets and so on - and we have places to dry them on in our basement during the winter, so we don't have any dryer...

Anonymous said...

I don't know that I can be of help. My birthday was last week, and my gift from my husband was to come home and find he had put up a collapsable clothes line outside- and it had clean clothes drying on it! I'd been wanting one for years.

I think that HOA rule is ridiculous. Maybe limit them to backyards, or the collapsable kind that won't be strung across the whole yard, but it's really dumb.

Everyone I know who has an HOA has problems- people complaining they didn't put their trash cans away quickly enough after garbage pickup, they hung beach towels on the railing, etc. People have nothing better to do.

I still use the dryer a lot, but I would say that 50-75% of our laundry is hung up. Not only does it save money on energy, but the clothes last A LOT longer, and stay nice looking a lot longer when they are line dried.

Can you just get a couple of the collapsable drying racks that are meant for indoor use and just put them someplace inconspicuous outside? We have an oversized one we use indoors all winter or when it's rainy outside.

Anonymous said...

I miss hanging out my laundry. We currently live in an HOA gated community and it is a big No-No to hang clothes outside. I set up a shelf in my laundry room so I can still hang up clothes. It is not the same thing but it helps. If you have an enclosed lanai you can hang something up without the neighbors seeing. I do miss the smell and freshness of my sheets being hung outside.

Sherrie said...

Just curious, did you hang the laundry in your front yard? I can't imagine why anyone would care about a clothing line in your backyard...

Anonymous said...

Americans flush toilets with drinking water. We are going to run out of clean water and many American cities are starting to have problems with having enough clean water. But every new building still relies on drinking water for flushing toilets.

Anonymous said...

Americans flush toilets with drinking water. We are going to run out of clean water and many American cities are starting to have problems with having enough clean water. But every new building still relies on drinking water for flushing toilets.

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Sherrie, NO. We actually hung it in the backyard where it was NOT visible from the front road. We made it very nice and very discreet!

Heather said...

We have similar rules up here in Canada in some areas but because we only get nice weather for maybe 4 months of the year, it's not too big of an issue. We have two drying racks that we set up in our kitchen area and dry our laundry that way. It also helps add some humidity into the house during the drier colder months. We still dry towels and bed sheets in the dryer but that's pretty much it.

the pressed olive said...

My husband and I put up two clothes lines in our back yard a few years ago! We didn't use them for everything, but we used them for most things! We have recently moved (in the last year) and haven't put one back up… but we LOVED it. I liked the way the sheets smelled… I liked thinking about my Grandma as I hung stuff on the line, because she always did… and I liked being energy conservative (as my husband is a civil engineer who works in environmental issues, we are big believers in that being conservative also means being conservative with our resources!) Great point you made about Americans being "environmentally friendly" on so many issues, but not this! - Jessica
(Erica Camp's sister)