NYT: Fight Global Warming with Your Clothesline!

April 12th, 2007 1:16 PM

This first-person article by Kathleen Hughes needs nothing to make its idiocy apparent. Read the whole thing and you'll really see an almost religious fervor to the words. Except, of course, instead of the thing being promoted being an actual religion, it's a political philosophy being promoted by someone who is supposedly an objective observer of politics:

As a child, I helped my mother hang laundry in our backyard in Tamaqua, Pa., a small coal mining town. My job was handing up the clothespins. When everything was dry, I helped her fold the sheets in a series of moves that resembled ballroom dancing.

The clothes and linens always smelled so fresh. Everything about the laundry was fun. My brother and I played hide-and-seek in the rows of billowing white sheets.

I remember this as I’m studying energy-saving tips from Al Gore, who says that when you have time, you should use a clothesline to dry your clothes instead of the dryer. [...]

I decide to rig a clothesline as an experiment. My mother died many years ago and the idea of hanging laundry with my own daughter, Isabel, who is 13 and always busy at the computer, is oddly appealing. I’m also hoping to use less energy and to reduce our monthly electric bills which hit the absurdly high level of $1,120 last summer.

That simple decision to hang a clothesline, however, catapults me into the laundry underground. Clotheslines are banned or restricted by many of the roughly 300,000 homeowners’ associations that set rules for some 60 million people. When I called to ask, our Rolling Hills Community Association told me that my laundry had to be completely hidden in an enclosure approved by its board of directors. [...]

There were more than 88 million dryers in the country in 2005, the latest count, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. If all Americans line-dried for just half a year, it would save 3.3% of the country’s total residential output of carbon dioxide, experts say.

“It’s a huge waste of energy to tumble dry your clothes,” said Tom Arnold, chief environmental officer of TerraPass, a San Francisco company that sells carbon offsets, which aim to reduce greenhouse gases to compensate for one’s activities. “It’s one of the simplest things to do to help with global warming.”

The laundry underground is a mixed group. It includes the frugal, people without dryers, and people from countries where hanging laundry is part of the culture. Many people hang a few delicate items. Tim Eames, a British designer who lives in Los Angeles, does not own a dryer. “The thought of getting a machine to do something as simple as drying my laundry is totally inconceivable,” he said.