Fight for your right to dry!

Where do you stand regarding "right-to-dry"?

The New York Times reports on a growing debate over clotheslines, which might seem mundane unless you're a tattooed RV-dweller named Jill Saylor of Canton, Ohio, protesting local anti-clothesline regulations. Apparently, some communities fear that hanging clothes outside makes a location more difficult to rent or sell. Hanging laundry, they say, is associated with poverty, even in places like sunny California that can support the practice year-round. The Times quotes a Richmond, Virginia real estate agent unable to sell a restored Victorian home thanks to a view onto the neighbor's drying delicates.

Do clotheslines destroy property values? What should you do if you want to exert your "right to dry" inside your apartment?As you might expect, the environmental impact and costs of drying clothes in the dryer is significant. U.S. Department of Energy statistics from 2001 attribute 5.9 percent of domestic energy use to clothes dryers. This figure could be as high as 15 percent or more if figures from multi-family and multi-unit apartment complexes are included, and greater still if numbers included dryer use at institutions like prisons and universities. Activists argue that with the serious ramifications of climate change, we should re-evaluate our belief that sheets and undies swinging in the wind maligns the view.

Attitudes are changing. Two groups are working to change the perception of hanging laundry.'s mission statement reads: "To promote line drying as a symbol of patriotism, intelligence, environmental action, rescuing it from a symbol of poverty and despair it seems to represent to many Americans." Project Laundry List is a non-profit with the goal of promoting cold-water washing and line drying.

Five states--Florida, Maine, Vermont, Utah and Colorado--now prohibit regulations against clotheslines, and April 19th is now National Hanging Out Day. Naturally, there is a documentary on the issue, too. Artists like Matt St. Onge and others have joined the conversation. St. Onge's installation, "The Electric Clothesline", is a work dedicated to the issue. A tree-like sculpture produced by Nature's Dryer is marketed as both yard art and clothesline alternative, which will only set you back $1,000.

One thousand clams for a fake tree? Here are some products that will allow you to exercise your "right to dry" from inside your apartment. Clearly, the answer is blowing in the wind.

Organize-It Tripod Dryer

This collapsible drying rack holds up to 36 hangers of clothes. It opens like an umbrella and folds up again for easy storage.

Over-the-Tub Drying Rack ($40)

Dry your clothes over the tub with a rack that can be configured to fit. It, too, folds up for easy storage.

Over-the-Radiator (free)

As winter approaches you can also dry clothes indoors by wringing them out and placing them on your radiator. Just be sure not to scorch them by leaving them on too long.

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