…and help your budget: Use a clothesline.

We have been blessed this summer. Yes, it has been hot on some of the days…hot enough to at least consider turning on the air conditioning unit. But we haven’t.

We are blessed with sunshine and breezes up here in the mountains. I love that my clothesline, mounted there on the deck, catches the breezes and allows all the clothes to dry quickly. Between the breezes and the beautiful, warming rays of the sun, most days I can do 2 or 3 loads without once turning on the electric dryer.

I encounter people who respond to my love of the clothesline with:
* clotheslines are prohibited by my home owners’ association, or
* using a clothesline is so much work, or
* I don’t have a large-enough yard for a clothesline, or
* I don’t like how stiff clothes/towels are after line-drying.

Ok, let’s look at each of these commments.

Clotheslines are prohibited by my home owners’ association
First, I always want to ask people: ‘why did you buy there then?’
Seriously. When Chris and I house shop we look to whether they community has restrictive covenants. If it does, we read them and decide if we can live within them. What good would it do us to move into a neighborhood where we would constantly be at-odds with the community-norms?
Yes, our new home’s HOA does have some basic covenants…clothesline usage was not one of the prohibitions…neither was composting/compost bins (another biggie for us.) Nor was there any verbiage that spoke to how the lawn needed to be cared for (we’re big into hardly mowing at all and am hoping to allow the ‘lawn’ to revert back to a more-natural state over the next several years.)

If you look at a community’s covenants and see that clotheslines (or whatever is important to you ) are prohibited then move on. End of story.

But what do you do if you are already a home owner and otherwise happily settled in your ‘no clotheslines allowed’ community? Organize!

In a time when so many families are feeling the budget-crunch you may well find like-minded spirits who would like to get that restriction lifted. Using a clothesline can improve one’s utility bills dramatically. We live in a 2100 sq ft space (plus basement) and our electric bill is less than $60/month all summer long. We don’t use the AC and I only use the dryer occassionally.

Find out what the procedure is within your HOA for reconsidering covenant details. Do you need to gather signatures from neighbors? Do you need to put together data showing the energy savings? Do you need to research your state’s laws regarding HOA restrictions and what they can and can’t enforce?

So, basically, I’m saying: ‘don’t accept that you are stuck with that covenant.’ You are a part of a home OWNERS association. As a home owner you should speak up.

Next, if you get no where within your HOA…what about lobbying your state legislators to have such restrictive covenants banned. Seriously, with global warming issues looming, any iniative that can be packaged as both Green and Low Cost will find friends.


Using a clothesline is so much work
To be honest the first time someone said this to me, I was speechless. It seemed such a whiny, pseudo-excuse that I simply did not have a response at the ready. We’re not talking a cardio-workout here…just carrying a basket of wet clothes and reaching up to affix them to a clothesline. Yes, it takes more time and effort than putting clothes right into the dryer. But it is time that I am spending in the beautiful sunshine, hearing the birds, enjoying the breeze. It’s a morning devotion for me.


I don’t have a large-enough yard for a clothesline
You don’t need a large yard. My rotary dryer (which can hold at least 2 giant loads of wash) takes up no more than a tiny corner of my deck. It is awesome! The rotary dryer (looks like the skeleton of an umbrella) cost less than $40 at Home Depot, btw. Put in a sunny spot with a bit of a breeze it will do all the work of a long line, without taking much space at all.


I don’t like how stiff clothes/towels are after line-drying
This is an easy one! Throw them in the dryer for 5-15 minutes when you take them off the line. I do this with our thirstiest towels and it works great. It only takes about 10 minutes on the ‘no heat, fluff’ cycle and voila…fluffy towels.


Now I suspect that most people who read my blog are already clothesline-friendly. But please, feel free to become a clothesline-activist and share the good news.

Mother Earth and Father Sun give us so many incredible gifts. Amongst these are the sunshine that can dry our clothes just as it helps to grow our gardens. The more we can encourage our friends and neighbors to use this gift…the more we can lessen the impact of global warming.

Oh, and one last thought…if you have any lingering ‘issues’ that clotheslines are an indication of poverty, please work on that. Meditate or pray to see if you can let go of this impression. There is enough external pressure to seem ‘fluidly middle class’ without us allowing it to become an internal issue as well.

Being able to afford an electric dryer may have been, at one point a couple of generations ago, a sign of being comfortably-well-off. Dryers, however, are pretty common now. If we work together maybe we can change the stereotype. Instead of seeing a clothesline as a sign of poverty…let’s make it a sign of compassion and intelligence…because we are smart enough to protect Mother Earth’s resources and we have great compassion for the poorest amongst us who are going to suffer the most as the Earth’s temperature continues to rise…

your peaceful activist,