Clothesline controversy

I read this with interest…

A variety of interests are involved in the controversy about clothes lines, including: frugal living, global warming, individual rights, the economy, private property, class, aesthetics, health, energy, national security and nostalgia.

When mechanical dryers were first introduced, only well-to-do families could afford them and they became associated with affluence. However, now that most people can afford a mechanical dryer, clothes lines have become associated with a “home-town” character in neighborhoods because they are indicative of a low-crime area. (Clothes lines are used less frequently in high-crime areas because of the risk of clothes being stolen.) Also, environmental concerns and higher energy prices have created a new generation of clothes line advocates. Still, the old association with poverty persists in some people’s minds.

Those against the use of clothes lines include:

  • some associated with oil and coal companies
  • some associated with electric and gas utilities
  • some associated with peddling idealized life styles
  • mechanical clothes dryer manufacturers and retailers
  • some associated with appliance repair shops
  • people who find clothes lines aesthetically displeasing
  • older people who still associate mechanical dryers with wealth

Those in favor of using clothes lines include:

  • people who believe that clothesline use will reduce reliance on foreign energy for national security reasons
  • people who believe that clothesline use will reduce global warming
  • people who believe that clothes blowing in the breeze are aesthetically pleasant
  • older people who are nostalgic for times when everyone used clothes lines
  • people who associate them with low-crime areas
  • people who prefer to use clothes lines for personal reasons (save money, get exercise, no static cling, etc.)

The controversy surrounding the use of clothes lines has prompted many governments to pass “right-to-dry” laws allowing their use.[1] According to Ian Urbina, a reporter for The New York Times, “the majority of the 60 million people who now live in the country’s roughly 300,000 private communities” are forbidden from using outdoor clothes lines.


Posted by John T February 03, 2011 at 5:21 PM under Alternative Energy

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