Clotheslining Progress

It seems recent posts by myself and Fran were all too prescient. The clothesline is apparently merely beginning its green-inspired comeback. Following Kathy Hughes’ New York Times article from the 12th is today’s Marilyn Gardner piece in the Christian Science Monitor:

But now the low-tech clothesline may be poised to stage a modest comeback. In an age of global warming, lists of energy-saving tips routinely include suggestions such as “Hang clothes outdoors to dry when possible.”

It’s good advice, of course. A dryer is typically the second biggest electricity-using appliance after the refrigerator, according to the website It costs about $85 a year to operate. Multiply that by the nation’s 88 million dryers, and the energy costs spiral.

The dryer, with its round-the-clock availability and shiny push-button convenience, has also created energy-wasting habits. As one mother says, “I’ve noticed the big conversation about energy-saving appliances. Where is the conversation about the habits of the people who use these appliances? Many of my friends who have teenagers say that their children wear an outfit only once before they put it into the laundry hamper. One of my friends only uses her bath towel once.”

That kind of wastefulness is on the minds of hotel executives, too. More and more hotels are placing small cards in the bathroom, spelling out how many gallons of water and how much soap they use each month. They encourage guests to consider forgoing a daily change of towels and sheets.

Does anyone else remember reading about (or living through) the middle of the 20th century, when indoor plumbing, mechanical washing machines, chemical detergents, and automated appliances were cosidered hygienic, progressive and even…liberating? One can only imagine what any of the nation’s feminist pioneers would think of the call for women (and it is still mostly women who handle laundry chores in U.S. households) to return to the days of lugging heavy baskets of wet laundry into their backyards to hang up, only to have to spend hours later ironing every piece of clothing and linen.

wattle and daub
Could this be your environmentally-friendly future?

Given this momentum, I can now confidently predict that the next residential enviro-trend will be the daub and wattle hut. After all, the New York Times “Style” section has already ran a feature on stylish homeonwers retro-fitting their multi-million dollar houses with – wait for it – dirt floors. Clearly the Neolithic mud hut is the next logicial step.