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
If you missed the Sustainable Wellesley/Wellesley Books discussion with author Paul Greenberg about his inspiring, accessible book, the Climate Diet last week, you can watch it here.
What a treat for our group to hear directly from the author! "Naked food" and "shipped vs. flown" were just a few of the inspirational stories he shared on ways we can address our own household carbon footprints. As Paul says, "everyone can and should do something," and this book offers a wide array of things you can do.
He calls this book a "peace offering," for adults and teens/millennials that shares ideas that are not only good for the planet, but good for your health and wallet too.
Take some time to read The Climate Diet this summer. Its short, informative and available at the library and the local book store! Then share the book; we all have something to learn.
We need to move the trend AWAY from fast fashion.
Not just for sustainable reasons, but ethical and societal ones as well.
And it's not a sustainable issue just because landfills get filled up by throw-away, wear once clothing. It's the chemicals and toxins from textiles production that pollute our water, and the vast carbon footprint of the industry. Watch here to learn more about the ethical and societal reasons as well.
Don't worry, we are about solutions and our host for this discussion Sophia offered many:
More good news!
Be on the lookout for new technologies that create materials with lesser impacts including:
What is your favorite sustainable fashion brand or store?
What made you take a second look at your labels and wardrobe?
Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you Sophia!
Style. Fashion. Inspiration. All in a conscientious way.
Join the Zoom chat this Thursday, March 4th, at 7. Learn more about who is really paying the price for fast fashion. We will be looking at not only the sustainable factors but the ethical and societal as well. After offering some solutions, we will be opening it up to questions and answers.
To Attend: Please fill out this form and submit your questions or comments.