Sunday, October 11, 2009

Drawing the Line at Clotheslines

Outdoor clotheslines are forbidden for a majority of the people who live in America's 300,000 private communities, according to an article in the New York Times. Anti-clothesliners think they scream "Here be poor people" and lower property values.

Lined up on the on the other side are homeowners who say drying clothes outside is the environmentally right thing to do, since dryers account for at least 6% of household electrical usage.

When homeowners and community associations clash, lawmakers step in.

In the last year, says the Times, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont have passed laws that protect the right to hang clothes on outdoor clotheslines. Florida and Utah already had such laws, and Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia are considering similar bills.

Environmental concerns and the state of the economy may be driving more residents to string up clotheslines. The U.K.'s Daily Mail reported in August 2009 that sales of outside airers and clothes pins had risen 20% in the past year.

Still, the lure of drying your clothes with Nature's free dryer runs into the inconvenience of being unable to control the sun and the rain. Modern life leaves no time for the homemaker to stand by the window, hanging and pegging clothes one by one, pushing the clothesline out bit by bit, hiding underwear among larger clothes and offering thanks you don't live in an area with frequent weather changes.

People find it much simpler to toss wet clothes into a dryer, go about their business and pick the clothes up after about an hour. As a bonus, your neighbors won't know about your discount-store clothes with their labels snipped in two.

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