We bought this appliance when we bought our first house and in anticipation of using cloth diapers.
Ew, you say? Consider the alternatives: We lived twenty miles out of town, and storing poopy diapers in the barn until Dump Day was even less appealing than a diaper pail. Even procuring disposable diapers in quantity was a daunting task in these pre-Internet days. Now, with a few clicks, diapers can be delivered to your door; back then, it was a chore to schlepp them home. So we bought a dryer and washed diapers.
We used the dryer until about ten years ago, when we made a concerted effort to reduce our carbon footprint and decided, as a family, to hang our laundry as often as we could. It’s had some unexpected benefits.
For one, becoming dependent upon the weather limited when I could hang out a wash, so I welcomed rain as a guilt-free reprieve. Conversely, when a day dawns bright, I have an excuse to be outdoors. Hanging laundry allows me a few moments to compare the forecast with reality. It helps me determine if I can wash another load or be absolved from attempting more.
My clothesline is strung between the raspberries and blueberries, where I’m surrounded by good habitat. Birds serenade me as I pin t-shirts to the line.
Hanging laundry has also had an unexpected ripple effect when the kids were still living at home. We became more mindful of wearing clothes until truly soiled and worth the bother of washing. We now choose clothing made of quick-drying fabrics, and talk about replacing worn out items with drying times in mind.
The kids didn’t just become committed to the clothesline; they achieved a new level of awareness and cooperation, and willingly rescued someone else’s laundry before nightfall or in advance of oncoming rain.
Of course, hanging laundry out to dry in the summer is easy, but we devised a system to dry clothes indoors in the winter, adding much-needed moisture to the dry air by festooning the house with bed sheets and towels. And yet, during this last, long winter, I confess to taking the easy way out and using the dryer – until last week, when the dryer quit.
But it’s spring, at last. And hanging the laundry this week has been a pleasure of birdsong, the scent of flowers, and the kiss of the sun. Every evening, I check the forecast, and if it’s clear for the morning, I put up a load to hang first thing. Instead of a chore, laundry’s a pleasure. I just may not replace the dryer after all.