By Larraine Roulston:
Few things match the satisfying sweet scent of taking in your laundry after it has dried on a clothesline. Knowing that your duds have been bleached by the sun, you’ve saved on electricity, and increased the longevity of your clothing makes it even more enjoyable.
Dryer usage is a significant contribution to the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere. The majority of electricity used in the United States is generated by burning fossil fuels, which is associated with many harmful environmental effects, including climate change. Sadly, our society has steered us away from hanging clothes — even to the point where some communities have made laws forbidding outdoor clotheslines. Hanging jeans and the like over balconies, as well, is often frowned upon in some neighborhoods. By collectively hanging laundry to dry in all types of weather, our carbon emissions would be much lower.
If you haven’t already made the switch from using the dryer, consider simply choosing to string a sturdy cord from two fixed locations. A more convenient approach is to use the familiar clothesline with a pulley from a porch or deck. There are also retractable clotheslines, freeing your backyard of lines. Compact umbrella clotheslines can be installed in both large and small yard spaces. Excellent foldaway racks are available for drying clothes indoors and out. A few items can always be placed on chairs that also can be moved about to catch the sun. Since sunshine acts as a natural bleach, you will reduce or eliminate stains by exposing cloth diapers and other stained clothing to UV light in both winter and summer.
Heat, humidity, time and agitation are the four factors involved in drying clothes. If the weather outside is too humid or too cold, it’s a good opportunity to use your drying rack indoors. By hanging your clothes inside, you will be adding moisture to your house, which is a good idea if your house lacks humidity inside. Towels and sheets are soft when they come in fresh off the line. It is not only the sun that gives them this feel, but also the breeze that flexes the fibers to soften them. Even if it is cold, a breeze on a sunny day can provide ideal drying weather. Whatever the conditions, you can always dry your clothes naturally.
There are many other benefits to hanging clothes. Clothes fluttering in the breeze have inspired the creation of paintings, photographs and even messages. (During WWII, arrangements of items on lines were used as codes.) And hanging clothes is a form of exercise. If you have toddlers, line drying has other benefits. Low hanging sheets can make for a game of peek-a-boo; and tots love to play with clothes pegs as well as help hang clothes. It is a weekly life-skill activity in which they can become engaged.
Shifting the human lifestyle is quite the challenge; however, the urgency to seek green alternatives both encourages and enables us to make environmental choices.
Happiness is an eco-friendly laundry movement that can be achieved easily throughout the year.
Keeping the crunch out of air dried laundry
Larraine authors illustrated children’s adventure books on composting at www.castlecompost.com