The right to dry movement

November 28, 2007 | By | 5 Replies More

How can we save up to 6% of our total electricity usage? Dry our clothes outside–hang them on clothes lines.  Unless the neighbors try to interfere, as described by this article from Time Magazine. 

Yes, there are people who want to do their part to lower their carbon footprint.

But on the other side are people who oppose air-drying laundry outside on aesthetic grounds. Increasingly, they have persuaded community and homeowners associations (HOAs) across the U.S. to ban outdoor clotheslines, which they say not only look unsightly but also lower surrounding property values. Those actions, in turn, have sparked a right-to-dry movement that is pressing for legislation to protect the choice to use clotheslines.

The article notes that 3 states limit the ability of Homeowner Associations to ban clothelines (Florida, Hawaii and Utah).  North Carolina is working to be a fourth state, but the effort is drawing opposition from HOA’s and the real estate industry.

Imagine the excitement if scientists suddenly announced that there was a new as-yet-undiscovered energy source that would provide six percent of all the electricity in the United State without any environmental drawback.   It would be the front page of every newspaper.  Here’s an equivalent idea that, unfortunately, meeting with derision by short-sighted people who obsess about a stilted idea of appearances.   So , is a clothes line ugly?

Project Laundry List’s [Alexander Lee] dismisses the notion that clotheslines depreciate property values, calling that idea a “prissy sentiment” that needs to change in light of global warming. “I understand the need for communities to legislate taste, but people always find a way around it,” he says. “The clothesline is beautiful–gorgeous, sentimental and nostalgic for many.

The quote featured on the homepage of Project Laundry List?  It’s by Benjamin Franklin:

We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.


Tags: ,

Category: Energy, Environment

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Erika Price says:

    Those same people who oppose drying on a clothes line probably use a fabric softener that is designed to smell like line-dried clothes! The probably buy an air freshener with that scent, too- it's is a very common fake scent for both products! To think they could get that experience for free!

  2. Skblllzzzz says:

    In the Netherlands many housing corporations and municipalities have dry-line bans in place. This has its roots in the past where the wealthy had their laundry done by the poor who used dry-lines. To keep the white clothes white, they were bleached in the sunlight on patches of grassland, called "bleaches".

    So when you saw laundry outside, you knew there were poor people living there. And as naturally no municipality or housing corporation wanted to be associated with poor people, bans on the visible signs of poverty came into being.

    These days nobody cares about these bans too much, but they are still there, waiting to be used…….

  3. Tammie says:

    I want to hang my clothes in the fresh air. I live in North CArolina and reading this article gives me hope.

    I would like to find out how I can help to change my hoa silly rules.

    thank you

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Tammie: Go to the Project Laundry List site and check their resources. And send them an email. I'd bet that they could put you in contact with many others who are trying to do what you are trying to do. Show your HOA some of the statistics from PLL. If it is true that even 5% of U.S. electricity goes to drying clothes, it would be criminal to NOT promote outdoor drying.

    Plan on being well educated and then persistent. Distribute a petition to your questionnaire to your neighbors. Then go present your views to the board.

    Best of luck to you.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Stunning statistics on how much energy we use to dry clothes artificially:

Leave a Reply