Every April 19th Project Laundry List works with hundreds of other organizations to sponsor National Hanging Out Day. This holiday encourages communities to learn about the financial and environmental benefits of line-drying laundry. Considering the frequency with which we launder, if even just a portion of our populace turned to our most powerful natural energy source — the sun — imagine the impact it could make. According to Project Laundry List’s website clothes dryers account for and astonishing six to ten percent of residential energy consumption. And this is even more shocking: it takes more energy for the average American to run a clothes dryer than the average African uses in an entire year. To educate the public about these little-known, but important facts activists have been hanging their laundry in public and creating “laundry art” on National Hanging Out Day since 1995.
I have to admit that, not only do I have a clothes dryer, but I use it every week for a portion of our laundry — mostly towels, sheets, and Chris’s clothes. But after several seasons worth of shrunken tops and one small (but scary) dryer fire in my first apartment, I learned a long time ago that I prefer air drying whenever possible. So, while some of our articles go through the dryer, I hang-dry almost half of our laundry in our laundry room (we’re very lucky that the laundry room is large enough to allow this without the clothes getting a damp smell). Until today, I’d never actually dried any of our clothing out of doors. I’ve heard that hanging laundry outside can be a relaxing chore, and that the clothes smell fresher and cleaner than any scent you can manufacture from inside the home. But I think the irrational fear that a bird would crap on my clothing has kept me from trying this natural method.
To celebrate National Hanging Out Day Chris strung some spare rope from our deck to one of our many trees and, after I’d run a load of clothes through the washer, we strung our laundry up outside. When I air-dry clothing inside I usually use a rack so I actually had to stop on the way home from work today to buy clothespins! And Chris and I weren’t very good at using them (either that, or the store I frequent carries a particularly weak brand), so it was kind of funny when we were trying to hang our laundry on the line for the first time.