Sustainability has remodeled cars and made solar panels sexy. But its most amazing feat yet may be its latest — bringing back the clothesline.
Once a symbol of the drab and downtrodden, clotheslines have gotten considerable attention recently for being light on the wallet, and the planet. People who use them forgo the $100 in yearly energy costs and 2,224 pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions that come with running the average dryer, according to figures from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Plus, activists like Washington-based Project Laundry List say there's that genuine fresh-air scent that no Bounce sheet can duplicate.
“We think of it as a proxy for doing a better job of harnessing the power of wind and the sun and other types of energy,” said Elisa Murray, spokeswoman for the Sightline Institute, a sustainability think tank based in Seattle.
The “right-to-dry” movement is growing, but not without obstacles. Many of the country's 300,000 homeowners' associations have banned clotheslines, claiming they are unsightly and can lower property values. But it has supporters in high places, too. Lawmakers in Florida, Utah and Vermont have passed laws that override these bans.