States Tackle Clothesline Hang-Ups

Clotheslines are on the chopping block in a number of states. (Photo: Mike LaCon [CC BY SA-2.0]/Flickr)

The New York Times Green Inc. blog ran an insightful post on an increasingly love it or hate it practice earlier today: using outdoor clotheslines in lieu of or in addition to conventional energy guzzling drying machines.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never used an outdoor clothesline. In fact, aside from movies and television and a trip to Spain several years ago I rarely see clotheslines being used. I, like much of young urban North America, consider clotheslines to be domestic relics; household staples that have either been banished to the "countryside" or disappeared decades ago along with egg timers, rotary phones, and washing buckets.

According to Project Laundry List, an advocacy group that’s pushing to give all citizens the legal right to hang dry their dirty knickers while raising awareness about alternatives to nuclear power, state-backed initiatives to lift bans on the use of clotheslines are increasingly common.

Clothesline bans, usually enacted by homeowner and condo associations, operate under the guise that they these simple energy-savers are unsightly blemishes on urban and suburban landscapes. States including Florida, Colorado, Utah, and most recently, Maine, have right-to-dry laws intact while other states such as Maine and Hawaii have similar bills in the works.

Despite issues of labor, weather, and aesthetics, clotheslines obviously provide considerable relief to Mother Nature and to your finances. That said, would you consider leaving your dryer — an appliance that accounts for 5.8 percent of a home’s total electricity and emits 2 kg of greenhouse gases per load — high and dry if social attitudes toward airing your dirty laundry changed and clotheslines were considered acceptable in your community?