Monday, April 14, 2008

Let it all hang out!

April 19th is National Hanging Out Day. Before you get too excited, it isn't a day set aside for running around in the buff. National Hanging Out Day was established to celebrate the virtues of the lowly clothesline.

With so many other big environmental issues to worry about, promoting clothesline use may seem a little trivial. The truth is that the demise of the clothesline is a symptom of a much larger ill. We are hooked on consumer products that supposedly make our lives simpler. Decades ago when energy was cheap and dryers were the hottest new convenience item everyone had to own one. Having an unsightly clothesline in your backyard became a bit of a social faux pas, much like having a TV antenna on your roof or a compost heap in your backyard. We were, after all, so much more modern than that!

What began as a status symbol quickly became the status quo. Builders started including "No clothesline" clauses in new subdivision contracts. This practice has become so widespread that most people believe that it's actually against the law to put up a clothesline. It is really important to understand that is not true.

So what makes having a clothesline so special? Here's the Top 10 Reasons, courtesy of Project Laundry List, (plus I've added a couple of my own for good measure.)

* Save energy. It's estimated that dryer use can make up to 10 percent of your electricity bill.

* Save money. You can save more than $100 a year on your electricity bill by using a clothesline.

* Reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing electricity consumption, particularly during peak periods, can have a dramatic impact on the amount of carbon dioxide, harmful smog-causing particulate and other nasty atmospheric pollutants that are released.

* Clothes and sheets smell so much better. Climbing into a bed made with fresh, line dried sheets is one of life's sweetest pleasures.

* Line drying clothes saves even more money by eliminating the need for expensive dryer sheets and fabric softeners. It's also worth noting that the perfumes, dyes and other chemicals used in these products increasingly cause allergic reactions in chemically sensitive individuals.

* Clothes last longer. All that bouncing around in the dryer actually breaks down fibers and causes clothes to wear much more quickly. Where did you think all that dryer lint was coming from?

* Forget about the 20-minute work out! Hanging clothes is a great way to get moderate exercise while enjoying the fresh air. One seriously obese Australian woman used hanging out clothes as an inspiration for a new lifestyle regime that ultimately led to her 67 kg. weight loss.

* Sunlight bleaches and disinfects clothing. Long before the advent of chemical bleaches, linens were routinely pegged out on hillsides known as bleaching fields.

* Drying clothes on indoor racks can help increase humidity during the dry winter months. Nobody is suggesting that you hang seriously wet clothes around your house, but hand washing fine knits and then drying them on indoor racks can help boost humidity while eliminating expensive dry cleaning bills.

* Reduce the risk of house fires. Failing to regularly clean out the link trap and dryer vent can be a major culprit in dryer fires. In the US alone, this translates into $ 100 million in damages annually.

* Reduce the need for air-conditioning in the summer. Running the clothes dryer on a hot summer day inside your house can dramatically increase your need for electricity, which in turn can increase smog.

* Save time. During the summer months clothes actually dry far faster on the clothesline than they do in the dryer, and they smell better, too.

* Dry year round. Contrary to popular belief, clothes will dry even on the coldest winter day, provided the sun is shining.

With all this going for it, the lowly clothesline is poised to make a serious comeback. To help this process along, the McGuinty government recently announced that it will be introducing Right to Dry legislation later this spring. If passed, the legislation will override any restrictive community regulations that ban the use of clotheslines. I'll dry to that!


Project Laundry List aims to reduce our dependence on environmentally and culturally costly energy sources by making simple lifestyle changes like switching to air-drying clothes.

Check out the Clothesline Diet Club


Post a Comment

<< Home