A ROUTINE THAT SAVES MONEY AND TRIMS CARBON FOOTPRINTS IS NEW AGAIN
Not that long ago, in the 1950s, automatic clothes dryers were still a novelty. So for most, laundry routines included hanging clothing out on a line or on a drying rack. Now, there are 90 million electric dryers in the United States, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, and each of those dryers uses 5.8 percent of total household energy and accounts for 2,400 pounds of emissions per year, estimates the Natural Resources Defense Council. Multiply 90 million household dryers by an estimated 400 loads a year per household, and you discover...a stellar opportunity for energy savings.
As Wellesley shapes a Climate Action Plan and strives to join the nationwide effort to cut carbon emissions 50 percent by 2030, here is a way each of us can make a difference. If household energy consumers sidestep dryers and use a clothesline even just occasionally, the effect on energy consumption and carbon emissions rates would be significant.
A clothesline also can save you money. One energy blogger estimates savings of $15-$20 a month, and notes that line drying is also much gentler on clothing.
So let’s start a trend, Wellesley.
Show us your clotheslines!
Send images like mine above to email@example.com in order to inspire others. Your household can help our town reach our goals simply by foregoing use of the dryer. Consider rigging a clothesline between two trees, buying a retractable line or simply adding a drying rack inside to your laundry space.
Lise Olney, a member of the Wellesley Board of Selectmen, is giving it a try. She just ordered a bamboo umbrella-style clothesline to be installed in her verdant back yard.
“Basically, I was inspired by the book talk (Sustainable Wellesley’s first book group with Paul Greenberg, author of Climate Diet: 50 Simple Ways to Trim Your Carbon Footprint) to think of what other steps I can take to use less energy,” Olney said. “We already hang most of our laundry in the basement laundry room rather than using the (gas) dryer. But in the summer, the wet laundry just kicks off the dehumidifier, and that uses a lot of electricity. I think the clothesline will lower our electricity use and reduce the need to use the dryer. Our long-term goal is to get rid of gas from our house — we have gas heat, gas stove, and gas dryer so it’s going to take some doing!”
Wellesley resident and Natural Resources Commission board member Bea Bezmalinovic says her household has used a retractable clothesline in the basement for over 20 years. Her husband is from India where his family always dried clothing on lines to save wear and tear on items. At their home in Wellesley, she says: “We wash at night and clothes are usually dry within 8-12 hours,” adding that she and her husband split the work.
In my own house, I use a laundry-room drying rack for about half of laundry loads and in the summer, I hang clothing to dry outdoors, a routine I unscientifically calculated takes on average 6 minutes.
I learned my love of line-dried laundry from my mom, who as a child living with her grandmother in the Bronx clipped laundry to a rope strung across a courtyard on a pulley out their apartment window with all like pieces of clothing grouped end to end sharing wooden clothespins. Her grandmother insisted that the clothesline reflected on their household, my mom remembers: “Our laundry on display always looked perfect.”
During my own childhood, we had an old-fashioned wringer washing machine in the garage below the house at our small lakeside place in Maine. On breezy days, my mom would enlist all four kids to help collect sheets and laundry, fill the tub of the washer – agitate with detergent, rinse, agitate and rinse again. We then ran the bedding and clothing piece by piece through the rubber rollers of the ringer. Feeding a soaked face cloth in one end and receiving a rough flattened, clothing line-ready wafer out the other was so satisfying. Then all we had to do was shake out and hang the laundry on an extensive clothes line tied around the trunks of several massive pine trees between our house and the water. We had a conventional washer/dryer at home, but my memories of this summer chore were fun. Really.
As an adult, I find the exercise calming. Freed from routines inside the house juggling work and kids creates time to breathe in fresh air. And when my girls were small, I would plop them on a pile of clean, dry laundry in a basket and carry them inside laughing – good energy.
Nostalgia aside, there are real possibilities for energy savings. Energy Star estimates that Americans could save more than $1.5 billion each year in utility costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from more than 2 million vehicles if they shifted to line drying. This seems worth the effort. So send us images of your clotheslines, Wellesley, and we will post them here to inspire others. Start making a difference today.
Written by Trish G
Small gas engines are a leading source of air pollution. Find out why battery powered maintenance equipment is the superior solution.
Join the Electrify Coalition for an important webinar on electric outdoor power tools. We'll be talking with some of the leading experts and advocates for the electrification of the landscape maintenance industry about why this is important, the state of the transition away from gas powered tools, and provide tips on how you can make this transition in your home or community. We will cover:
The Electrify Coalition: Our coalition of non-profits, faith based groups, HVAC contractors, youth groups, builders and energy providers is dedicated to accelerate electrification through education and policy.
For those doing something different next week for the school April break, take a minute this week to:
1) Write/call your Town Meeting Member letting them know that you support the Town's updated greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals. These goals appear in Article 24, Motion 1 and call for reductions in town-wide GHG emissions of 50% below Wellesley’s 2007 baseline by 2030, 75% below Wellesley’s 2007 baseline by 2040, and net zero town-wide GHG emissions by 2050. These science-based goals follow State policy, are in line with The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, support Wellesley’s Unified Plan, and echo similar climate actions taken by an increasing number of Wellesley’s peer communities across the Commonwealth.
2) Enjoy Sierra Club's free plant-based cooking classes! You know that going meatless is good for the environment and for your health. The production of meat and dairy generates a lot more greenhouse gases than the production of comparable amounts of plant-based proteins. Check out two upcoming online cooking classes from the Sierra Club for inspiration and helpful tips.
Sunday, April 18, 6-7pm
Plant-based Cooking Demonstration: Learn how to make healthy plant-based food with the Plant-based Planet Team! We’ll demonstrate how to make various plant-based dishes at home. Feel free to ask us questions! Register in advance here.
Tuesday, April 20, 6:30-7:30pm
Our Sustainable Kitchen Cooking Class, Second Episode: Professional vegan chef Diana Goldman will teach you virtually how to prepare delicious plant-based food. Register in advance here.
3) Enjoy the week!
In the spring vernal pool animals are often in a race against time for survival before the pool dries up during the summer. Come see what you can find in one of Wellesley’s 18 vernal pools. From fairy shrimp to damselflies, green frogs and painted turtles, learn about these seasonal pools and the many creatures that might inhabit them on Wednesday, April 14 at 4:00PM. The "Fairies, Frogs, and Damsels!" Spring and Summer Wildlife of Vernal Pools: Part 2 event is brought to us by the Wellesley Conservation Land Trust Educational Series and co-sponsored by the Wellesley Free Library, Natural Resources Commission, and Sustainable Wellesley.
Register in advance for this half-hour virtual educational Zoom event here.
What is a vernal pool?
How does the vernal pool change from early spring to late spring/summer?
Why and how does that affect what creatures are in the pool?
How does that affect what critters are drawn to the pool?
Who are the predators and who are the prey?
Joy Marzolf, former naturalist and educator for over 13 years at Mass Audubon's Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary and now with her own company The Joys of Nature, will provide the answers to your questions and provide tips for exploring Wellesley’s vernal pools.
This event is designed for families and curious children of all ages. Pre-registration is required here. More info: Facebook. Website.
According to the Wellesley Geographic Information System (GIS), Wellesley has 18 vernal pools and 15 of them are certified! You can explore the location of these by using the Wellesley GIS Property Viewer and turning on the Vernal Pool layer. A map to the Guernsey Sanctuary vernal pool is here. An aerial view of the North 40 vernal pool is here.
Massachusetts GIS of Certified Vernal Pools
Massachusetts Vernal Pool Certification Process
Learn all about the weird and wonderful skunk cabbage, Spring’s first wildflower at an event co-sponsored by the Wellesley Free Library, Natural Resources Commission, and Sustainable Wellesley on Wednesday, March 24 at 4:00PM via Zoom.
Register in advance for this half-hour virtual educational event:
Wonder how to spot them? Wellesley's Judy Barr will let you know. HINT: the flowers don’t look like flowers, and the leaves don’t look like leave.
Designed for families and children of all ages. Pre-registration is required here.
Stay tuned for more in the Wellesley Conservation Land Trust Educational Series:
Wednesday, April 14, 4PM - Pre-register here
Spring & Summer Wildlife of Vernal Pools: Fairies, Frogs, and Damsels
The Wellesley Conservation Land Trust is our local 501(c)(3) non-profit land trust that protects 14 sanctuaries across more than 45 acres of natural land in Wellesley and bordering lands in Needham and Weston. More information about our mission, the sanctuaries and membership can be found at WellesleyConservationLandTrust.org.