Tumble dryers, like sport utility vehicles, are verging on an image problem: once symbols of economic success, they have morphed into icons of environmental disregard. The gas guzzlers of household appliances, electric dryers use about as much energy as a refrigerator — consuming more than 6 percent of household energy — even though they are used only intermittently.At issue are subdivision covenants that prohibit outdoor clotheslines. Some people hang their clothes anyway, as a sort of civil disobedience. It's a nice way of starting the conversation to say "I used to love my dryer, but now I can't load it without thinking about how it's wasting energy and accelerating climate change." Others are taking a more systemic approach, petitioning states and provinces to outlaw clothesline bans.
And there is a cheap and easy, carbon-free alternative. “A clothesline is not a solar panel or a Prius — it’s something that everyone can afford,” said Alexander Lee, founder of Project Laundry List, which promotes sustainable technology in the home.
Project Laundry List combines tips on clothesline advocacy with tips on how to do laundry and save energy. I tried their technique for drying towels hung bag style on a windy day and found that it did produce towels almost as soft as machine dried.
I keep thinking of Brother Tim's account of his recent visit to Shanghai, where he saw lots of spanking new high rise buildings and clotheslines everywhere. Here in the US, we seem to be split between "technology will save us" and "technology is evil". Sometimes old fashioned technology, like clotheslines, is just the right fit.