Friday, July 18, 2014

Love Your Laundry Line

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled To Dry or Not To Dry. I wrote about the fact that Americans are so obsessed with being green, and yet laundry lines are outlawed by most HOA's. After living overseas, where laundry lines are seen as picturesque and appropriate, I wondered why there was such a stigma associated with laundry lines in America.

Most responses I heard basically echoed what I wrote. They shared the belief that while definitely better for the environment and way cheaper, laundry lines are seen as tacky and "low-class."

Imagine my excitement when just a few days after writing this piece, my husband showed me his current issue of Urban Farm magazine (June/July issue). Now this isn't a magazine I frequently delve into, but I read every word of a piece on page 43 entitled "Love Your Laundry Line."

This article was basically an exact replica of the words I had tried to express on my previous blog. I want to take a moment to summarize this great article which backs up my observations with proven statistics.

Author Bill Strubbe had decided along with his housemate, to put up a laundry line. "In addition to such benefits as reacquainting oneself with the every-changing fluctuations of weather, chatting over the fence with neighbors and jasmine-scented pillow cases, clotheslines save energy and money."

Strubbe went on to share these facts: "The Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit based in Colorado that drives the efficient and restorative use of resources, estimates that more than 6 percent of the U.S. residential electricity is guzzled by the clothes dryer, annually consuming about 200 million tons of coal and costing the average household several hundred dollars."

And here is the part that really jumped out at me. Despite the fact that dryers are not good for the environment and are very expensive, "... about 60 million Americans live in communities governed by homeowners associations and municipal laws that restrict or ban clotheslines, claiming they're eyesores and that they lower property values ... The unassuming, old-fashioned clothesline seems to embody a peculiar American clash of ideas about class, liberty, and the environment."

"For some, clotheslines are an undesirable reminder of a more frugal, bygone age that they'd prefer to forget; for others, air-drying is akin to recycling or bringing reusable bags to the market. But with an increase in energy awareness, six states -- Florida, Utah, Maine, Vermont, Colorado, and Hawaii -- have passed laws curtailing housing authorities ' power to stop residents from using clotheslines, and several other states -- including California -- have similar bills pending."

Alexander Lee, the founder of Project Laundry List ( staunchly disputes the oft-quoted figure of 6 percent, estimating the actual number to be much higher. "The Energy Information Administration stats, broken into industrial, commercial, and residential silos, do not give a true picture," he says. "Unlike, say dish washing or home lighting, much laundry takes place in Laundromats and shared condo facilities. Also, laundry is a big part of the load -- pardon the pun -- at hospitals, hotels, prisons, and restaurants, all counted as commercial and not factored in the 6 percent 'residential' number. Gas dryers do not show up on electricity stats either." Lee contends that if one in three Americans line-dried for five months of the year, 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide would be prevented from entering the atmosphere by 2020.

Strubbe continues by noting that, "In addition, clothes last longer when drying outside as their is less wear and tear, especially on items containing elastic, such as fitted sheets and underwear. Drying your clothes outside may take longer than tossing them in the dryer, but it's time well spent outside, in the fresh air and sunshine. It's better for you and your clothes."

One individual quoted in the article is Simon Lang Lorihine. Lorihine has never owned a dryer and from all estimates, he figures that he and his family are saving about $1,000 annually. "For bright colors that we don't want to fade, we'll hang in the attic, which takes a bit longer," Lorihine says. "As for the problem of crunchy towels, we shake them out hard after the washer before hanging, which softens them."

"Lorihine grew up in England, where even in that damp climate, clothes flapping in the breeze don't carry the same stigma, and only about 45 percent of households own a tumble dryer, compared to 79 percent in the United States. In Italy, only about 4 percent of the population possess dryers, and colorful lines of clothes grace the windows, balconies, and yards of every town and city."

This article was packed with statistics that supported my thought ... not using dryers and more specifically, outlawing clotheslines, is simply a contradiction to our environmental-emphasis. I really predict that we are about to see a huge change in this in the very near future!


Anonymous said...

Why not use an indoor drying rack and solve both issues? We have two.

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Casey, an indoor drying rack is okay but definitely not the same as outside ... that is currently what I am doing and it is almost doing the job.

ljd said...

I have been drying our clothes, I started with just our shirts to stop them from shrinking. Now I dry s
All our clothes, I love hanging clothes while watching the kids play or listening to the neighborhood sounds. I figure not only do I save costs from electricity but also think the dryer is hard on clothes. (I still dry my whites (socks and underwear) because socks are a pain to hang up.