To support our friend Alex Lee at Project Laundry List and spread the word about line drying, we asked members of the Seventh Generation community to dry their laundry on the line! Here’s a report from the first week. And here's how you can join in the Seventh Generation 7 Day Laundry Challenge to save energy and money!
Our first week of line-drying started off a bit washed out – by rain. So we decided to hang our clothes in the bathroom using hangers and a folding rack that we already had for our "delicates". It was surprisingly simple our clothes dried overnight. It was much more fun later in the week though, when we were finally able to hang a load outside after the weather cleared up. It gave us a another reason to hang out in the yard with the cats, and we felt proud to be showing our "colors" to the neighbors,
because it meant we were saving energy. The cold washing part was easy – we never use warm water in our machine--you don't need to! Now we know you don't need to use the dryer either.
Growing up, our family didn't have a dryer so when I bought my house, I chose not to buy one. In the warm months, we dry our clothes outside; in the cold months, we dry them inside on two very large racks. There is nothing like the fresh smell of clothes that have been dried outside. I wash the clothes in the early morning and hang them outside before leaving for work. It's a nice Zen-like practice to start my day. A few days during the winter we freshen our down comforter and pillows by hanging them outside for the day. The benefits are two-fold -- the freezing temperatures help kill dust mites and in the middle of winter, we get to experience the fresh smell of clothes hung outside.
The drying rack was my grandparents so someone in the family has been using it for probably 75 years.
Ever since I can remember, laundry hanging outside in the summer, whether at our city home in Montreal or our country house in Stowe, was pretty typical. The stiffness of the towels felt so natural and the smell of our clothes, so clean. My mum could not let a sunny weekend day go by without stripping everyone's bed and doing the laundry. Just a few weeks ago I spent the night at my parents' and as I climbed into bed, felt my toes touch a wooden clothes peg. For now in my apartment, I am limited to the shower rod in my bathroom, or the drying rack in the living room, but one of the first things I will do next time I live in a house is a hang a clothesline outside.
Some clothes lines come with fancy pulleys or hooks. Ours is a single rope tied to two trees in our yard. Easy as can be. One of those trees was a weed that I decided not to mow one day. Years later, the tree is still a weed but a 15-foot weed that we use to help dry our t-shirts, blankets, towels and undergarments. We especially love being able to dry big things like comforters and heavy blankets, and avoid all that time in our dryer. I've used a kilowatt meter to find out what most of the appliances in my house uses but dryers use that big 220v plug so I can't meter its usage. Even so, I'm sure it takes a lot to do the work that a dryer does. Since our almost one-year-old Jazmine has arrived our laundry count has gone way up and includes all kinds of fun stuff like one-piece tee-shirts, bibs, tiny little stockings and most importantly cloth diapers. Seventh Generation has awesome, chlorine-free diapers that perform great and we use these along with cloth diapers. We feel strongly that cloth diapers are a good option if you can do it and if you live in an area that doesn't have any concerns about water shortages. There is the argument that cloth diapers take resources to constantly clean but we balance our diaper usage between both disposable and cloth diapers, usually cloth when we’re around the house and disposable when we’re out and about.
We found that although it seemed daunting to go without using the dryer, once we made the decision it wasn't hard to do at all. It does require a little bit of planning ahead and being aware of the weather but hasn't been an inconvenience. It's actually been nice to have a reason to get outside in the yard for a few minutes to hang the laundry. We all feel good knowing that we're taking even this small step to reduce our energy use, and we love the fresh smell of our clothes from being out in the breeze and sun.