Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Clothesline, the Gift That Keeps on Giving

I was outside working in the garden when my neighbor came over, carrying a basket of wet laundry.

"Oh, you have some clothes on the line. Think there's any room left for these?"

I assured her that it was fine to put some clothes up. She and her husband are still working on their design that will fit our homeowners' association covenants, and my neighbor's been "trying ours out" this last spring.

This was the first time (at least to my knowledge) that we'd shared the clothesline. As a school teacher, during the school year I hang clothes early or not at all, giving my neighbor a clear clue: no clothes on the line and Tom's at school--so go for it! However, now that school's out, I'm more informal in my schedule and, therefore, have more opportunities to interact with my neighbors.

As I was taking my sun-dried laundry down that evening (pushing through my neighbor's clothes to mine), I saw that one of the lines that we'd shared had a set of white sports socks. Were those mine or her husband's? Then I saw that the socks were pinned with plastic clothes pins, rather than the wooden ones my wife and I use, so I got it all figured out.

When we let our neighbors use our clothesline, it is a gift--but an easy gift, really. It's not like they're going to wear out the plastic-coated clothesline--our use up the sun with the drying. Every time they use the clothesline, it is a gift not only to them but also to our entire planet.

"The dryer is responsible for 6% of the average household's energy bill and it costs residential ratepayers in the US an estimated $5 billion annually." (quoted from the film Drying for Freedom from a post by Sustainable Health and Well-Being)

Our local electricity comes from coal-fired plants, fueled by coal from the mountain states, transported by diesel train engines--a big carbon footprint. A clothesline is much more sustainable in its existence.

Because I had to build an "enclosed" structure to house the clothesline, my construction costs were about $200. If I had been able to build a simple "Tee-structure" line with a couple of 4X4's and a crosspiece, the costs would have been about $50. A clothesline must be about the most cost efficient and simple to construct energy-saving project a homeowner can do.

I urge everyone to enjoy clothes that smell fresh and are purified by the sun. Build a clothesline, let your neighbors use it--save our planet's precious resources.

Copyright 2012 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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