We finally did it! We did all our laundry and dried it outside on a clothesline.

We have been attempting this ever since the first glimmers of spring in March or April. The first few times we washed clothes on Saturday morning, hung them up outside, took the slightly frozen but still damp clothes in on Saturday evening and then hung them back out all day Sunday and still had damp clothes on Sunday night. But now, as we were saying, the drying power of the sun has increased sufficiently so we can dry multiple loads in a single weekend.

And you can, too. As of April 18, the Ontario government has made bylaws that outlaw clotheslines illegal. These bylaws were mostly in place in new subdivisions and the ban on bylaws was opposed by builders of these new subdivisions. The rationale for opposing the ban, according to the builders, is that homeowners bought the houses knowing about the bylaw and it isn’t fair to change the rules on them. We’re not sure about how other people choose houses, but for us, when we were house hunting we were interested in location, number of bedrooms, age of the roof, etc., not really whether we were going to see the neighbour’s jammies fluttering in the breeze.

Actually it’s interesting to think how perceptions have changed. These bylaws were put into place because drying clothes on the line was considered unsightly and “low class.” Now we would like to think that conserving energy is both beautiful and classy however you do it. Driers are one of the most energy intensive household appliances while they are running, although since most houses don’t run them constantly they account for only about 6 per cent of a household’s energy budget. But still, anywhere energy usage can be trimmed, it should be.

Which brings us to the fact that we have been in several newish subdivisions lately, visiting family and friends and we can’t help but notice that there has not been a proliferation of new clotheslines installed since April 18. We highly recommend getting one.

There is something therapeutic about hanging wet laundry outside and taking the sun-warmed clothes down and smelling the outdoors on them, which is pure pleasure.

– Andrew Laursen is an assistant professor at Ryerson University. Sophia Dore is an environmental scientist with Conestoga-Rovers & Associates.

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