print   |     |   letters to the editor   |   browse articles   |   more of this column

Greenline -

Dirty Linen, Solar Dryers

We the people of the U.S. are the world's biggest energy hogs, using 25% of the world's oil with only 5% of the world's people. This is finally becoming known to a bigger percent of the population than the environmentalists who have been ranting about it for the past 30 years.

Since, we're already laundering our dirty linen in public, let's take a look at laundry. Go to Italy, for example, and you'll see laundry hanging on lines on balconies and rooftops, even in well-to-do, conservative neighborhoods. The Italians don't seem to have a problem with this ancient solar-energy device.

We do, drying our clothes in clothes dryers that use the energy equivalent of 2.2 billion gallons of oil a year—which equals an entire two-and-half days worth of our annual oil consumption. The average household cost of using a clothes dryer is around $85 a year. So hang up a clothesline now; hardware stores carry plenty of clothesline gadgets. And in winter, dry your stuff inside, using that quaint device known as a clothes rack.

So what's our problem, anyhow? In 1987-88 I was a scholar-in-residence at Oberlin College in Ohio, a school known for its ultraliberal student body and their laudable environmental awareness. Noticing that they were spending money and wasting energy using clothes dryers, I conspired with several daring students to install a clothesline from a window of the laundry room to a tree and exhorted them to use it. Yet the campus building management soon objected, demanding that the line come down. The reason given was that clothes hanging on a line were "out of keeping with our small-town atmosphere."

Yet not many years earlier, clothes flapping on lines were a symbol of wholesome family life in small town America. American as apple pie, they were celebrated in art by patriots like Norman Rockwell, who even put a clothesline in his celebrated Saturday Evening Post magazine cover of a soldier coming home from the war. For a look at this and other clothesline art, see Exactly how they came to be a symbol of urban squalor.

Unfortunately, this is not just a matter of taste. Clotheslines, are actually banned or restricted in thousands of communities in the U.S. Thank goodness we now have a Right to Dry movement, spearheaded by If you're a victim of such a ban, or the whole idea just bothers you, hook up with these folks.

April 3, 2007

print   |     |   letters to the editor   |   browse articles   |   more of this column


Use the form below to post a response to this article

Send a Letter to the Editor

Your Information
Your email address is REQUIRED. however, we will never share, sell or rent your information to a third party. (privacy policy)
Your Letter
Your Message:

We are sorry, but due to abuse by spam robots, HTML code cannot be accepted at this time. If you wish to include a web address in your message, please enter it simply in the format ""
By checking this box you agree to the policies described on the These Green Times Policy Page pertaining to article comments and letters to the Editor (required).

Now Online
Illegals: A Novel by J.P. Bone

Illegals: A Novel

by J.P. Bone

Reviews of Illegals

Contact the Author:


  Blue Moon Movies

Blue Moon Movies

» Clouds
» Birds-Seagulls Sitti
» The Bugs Trip-With H
» Varmint Revue
» American Canyon
» Destination: Fruit
» Flower Fiesta!
» Cactus Bloom
» Tides-24 Hours on th

These Green Times — Copyright © 2007 - 2013, These Green Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.
No content or part of this site may be reproduced without prior consent.