Power Up the Clothesline

   During the heat wave this August, we followed the guidelines and did not use our major appliances until the evening. In order to get laundry done, however, we resorted to that ancient practice long forgotten in modern urban and suburban life: the clothesline.  Instead of stuffing wet sheets into a metal can and burning methane and consuming kilowatts to blow air and turn the contraption, we hung our laundry on a line. And do you know what? The first linens were dry about the time we hung up the last of them. Towels and rugs also dried more quickly in the day’s heat than the usual 40+ minute cycle. We have since discovered that this primeval technique also works when there is not a heat wave (whoa!).

   PG&E [San Francisco Bay Area’s major utility] would do well to promote this natural major appliance alternative, giving away clotheslines, or a token payment for the 20 to 40 cents one saves letting nature’s dryer do the work.  While some places and people might have a prejudice against clean laundry swinging in the wind (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/16/AR2006081600394.html), its not necessarily a sign of poverty, but perhaps that someone is not just recycling recyclables, buying a hybrid car, or installing solar cells on their roof, but actually taking a little extra time and effort to leverage natural resources, to not put carbon into the air, to not stress the power grid – that is, to save planet earth in some small way.  

    How about it PG&E?  Wouldn’t a million clotheslines be cool?


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