Let us not be ashamed of our clotheslines
Funny how just as the west starts to realize the folly of certain habits, we in the developing countries begin to get introduced to them! I am talking of the humble clothesline.
The clothesline has been looked upon with disdain in the west (in North America and parts of Europe) for many years…until now. Whether its residential apartments or independent houses, municipalities have enforced rules which prohibit residents from displaying their laundry.
Clotheslines which are visible from the road are considered infradig, low-brow and ugly! Upper class people look down on them. And so does the government. Penalties for breaking this ordinance can be over 500 dollars in the United States in many well-to-do localities.
Just contrast this to India where clotheslines are dime a dozen…and not just in the slums. You can see them adorning apartment blocks as well as posh bungalows. Sure, some colonies do turn up their nose at those who hang out their laundry, but it’s a rare colony which lays down strict rules to disallow it. As for Indian municipalities, they have too much on their minds to bother about clotheslines.
But in the west there is a strong movement to overturn bans on clotheslines and you’ve guessed it – thats because clotheslines are environment friendly. In Ontario, Canada, a couple ( Rob and Laurie Cook) are defying the law which which bans outdoor clotheslines. The couple want to do their bit for global warming and believe that dryers are a waste of energy.
The Cooks are part of a loose global network of people who are rallying around what they call the “right to dry.” … Tumble dryers, like sport utility vehicles, are verging on an image problem: Once symbols of economic success, they have morphed into icons of environmental disregard. The gas guzzlers of household appliances, electric dryers use about as much energy as a refrigerator – consuming more than 6 percent of household energy – even though they are used only intermittently.
Time magazine says that “Drying clothes in the sun can save up to 10-25 per cent of household energy consumption.”
By hanging just 25 per cent of those laundry loads out to dry, consumers could save about $30 a year on their electricity bills and make a meaningful contribution to reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases
More than half of the developed world uses clothes dryers (more than 50 percent of those in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium and Britain). Their number is growing….in the Netherlands, the dryers have been doubling every 10 years!
In India few people (including the affluent) use clothes dryers, even if they do own them. Most people don’t own them. Reasons aplenty for this:
- The hot weather helps dry clothes quickly
- The household help does the job of hanging out the clothes
- Nobody cares if you hang the laundry outside
- There are no laws against hanging the laundry outside
- People cannot afford dryers, which can cost upwards of Rs 10000
Experts have said that household emissions are a quarter of the total emissions in developed countries and therefore stopping the use of dryers will make a significant dent. Thats why I hope that India never graduates to dryers.
And its not just to save energy. Dryers reduce the life of our clothes.
There are alternatives to hanging laundry outside if one thinks it looks ugly. One can get a pulley-operated clothes rack which can be slung up right to the ceiling after it’s loaded with clothes. These are much cheaper than dryers…but they won’t work in a cold damp climate. They are ideal for India’s climate though and a far better alternative to a dryer. But if you have to hang clothes outside, hang them outside. Better than using a dryer. Clotheslines are not something we need to become ashamed of. Let urban India not become like this Gurgaon locality where residents associations are discouraging the use of clotheslines. The “right to dry” is what all need to stand up for if the time ever comes upon us.
More: Pesticides poisoning India
Sound Pollution in India – a solution?
Where have all our sparrows gone?
Shocking pollution during the Ganesh Festival
Hoarding epidemic in India!
Clothes contain chemicals that could harm you
(Photographs copyrighted to me)