Americans fight for ‘right to dry’

When I visited India a couple of years ago, I noticed that many middle-class families owned washingDry
machines, but no dryers. Instead they used something called "The Sun." Apparently, "The Sun" is hot enough to dry clothes. All you have to do is hang them outside and "The Sun" does the rest. Wow, I thought, I wonder if  "The Sun" would dry clothes in America too.

Many Americans are wondering the same thing, realizing how much energy they can save by using "The Sun." Some are joining the ‘right to dry’ movement, fighting bans against clotheslines in many communities.

Vermont is the latest state to introduce a bill that would override clothesline
bans, which are often instituted by community associations loath to air laundry
even when it’s clean. Now, clothesline restrictions may be headed the way of
bans on parking pickup trucks in front of homes, or growing grass too long —
all vestiges of trim and tidy hopes that may not fit with the renewed emphasis
on going green.

That pickup truck can really help you save energy, especially if you dry your underwear on the antenna.

But it’s not just a question of saving energy. Drying your clothes outside can help reduce carbon-dioxide in the environment and fat on your butt.

At last count, in 2005, there were 88 million dryers in the United States,
according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Annually, these
dryers consume 1,079 kilowatt hours of energy per household, creating 2,224
pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions.

Besides the global-warming and cost-saving aspects of clotheslines,
proponents say hanging out clothes requires exercise and time outside —
elements that are missing from many Americans’ lives. "So much of our lives have
become automated," Wentzell says. Plus, using a clothesline makes "your clothes
last longer and smell better."

I told an American friend about these benefits and he decided to try using "The Sun." A few days later, he gave me call. "The Sun works pretty good," he said. "But I have a couple of questions. How do I get it to dry my clothes within 40 minutes? And where the heck do I hang the fabric softener sheets?"




If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. Lili Gharieb says:

    All I have to say is this….you are most welcome to dry by the sun when the temperature is 10 below zero. Nothing is stopping you.
    Besides if you hang outside it takes up time and effort but the dryer takes it all in stride….simply dump the clothes in turn on and walk away.

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