It will be ten years come fall since we’ve had a clothes dryer at home. The decision came about early on in our life off the grid, so my enthusiasm for such things was still pretty big. We had been here about a year when the clothes dryer conked out, and I had been thinking about what I could do to reduce my carbon footprint. Biking to work or to the grocery store is obviously not an option for country dwellers, but I thought that line drying was something I could commit to.
With Dan’s help, we put up clothesline inside the laundry room for drying during the winter months. It’s a little crowded but functional. I decided not to buy a new clothes dryer because I knew I’d be too tempted to use it. I had a toddler at the time, and hanging up itty-bitty baby socks proved more time consuming than I ever imagined. But I stuck with it, and by the time baby number two arrived, I found an easy (and obvious) solution: wood drying racks.
But perhaps the most surprising thing about line drying in northern Wisconsin is how long you can stretch out the front and back end of the warmer seasons. I often hang my clothes outside well into November, am able to line dry even in the middle of January when the sky is clear. Come the spring, even when the snowstorms are still delivering their wet blankets, the sun is hot enough to dry mine as long as I’m paying attention to when it comes out. These pictures here were taken during a break between the relentless storms of April 2013.
The other unexpected perk that comes with hanging laundry is alone time. I’ve always envied smokers their “smoke break.” Hanging clothes on the line give me a chance to step out, clear my head, and calm down. I get to be under the trees, listen to the birds, hear the wind. Yes, it takes time, but I’ve discovered that the time it takes is good. I am still amazed, even after ten years, how efficiently the sun does the job. I just put the clothes outside, walk away, and come back a few hours later. Nothing to plug in, nothing to break, and nothing emitted into the atmosphere but the clean smell of laundry.
This NOVA about the “wedge theory” developed by Princeton physicistRobert Socolow and his colleague, ecologist Stephen Pacala, presents one of the most positive outlooks on climate change strategies. The problem is manageable using a combination of strategies. One of the most potent things the everyday consumer can do are in the areas of efficiency and conservation.