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Why clotheslines are on the front-line in the battle against climate change

The Ideas Arcade

Steven Lake made a film about clothes lines. A UK film maker, after finding out it was illegal to hang your washing outside in some parts of the US, Steven Lake wanted to find out why. His documentary Drying for Freedom is the story of his journey from Mississippi to Mumbai in search of an answer.

We to quiz him about the film – including how he managed to get so interested in clotheslines.

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  • Jennifer Graham

    I make clothing and always tell ppl to just air dry it! The clothing last longer and laundering is harder on the environment long term then making new clothes. This film looks awesome. Can't wait to see the whole thing.

    • The Ideas Arcade

      It's well worth a watch! Cheers for your comment, great to hear that makers are giving this advice to people buying their clothes. Fantastic.

  • Tom Maybrier

    I quit using electric dryers after living in Europe, where nearly everyone dries their clothes either on a clothesline or indoors on a folding rack.

    It's easier, cheaper and makes your clothes last longer. I currently live in a working class neighborhood in LA - we don't have yards and many of my neighbors dry their clothes on the fire escapes or balconies.

    I'm using an indoor rack like the one I had in Germany.

    The electric dryer ought to be on it's way out, it's an impractical luxury appliance that's totally unnecessary.

    • The Ideas Arcade

      We completely agree! Same in the UK - folding racks or outside is just standard. Here's to the demise of the dryer...

  • Qinnie Wang

    Spot on! I've always thought it's ridiculous to ban clothes lines. Sun is the best dryer! I don't have a dryer and I refuse to use one.

    • The Ideas Arcade

      The sun gets out vote as well Qinnie, no doubt!

  • Blake Ferguson

    Clotheslines just make so much sense to me. I live in Texas I can hang my clothes outside to dry for free like 350 days a year. Climate change aside, why would I buy an appliance that is going to cost me money for something I can do for free?

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    This seems like such a niche part of the climate change conversation- but I am so with the clothesline community. My clothesline was cut down due to city restrictions and it really upset me, especially as an apartment dweller. I now use my stairwell to dry clothes. Seems like a small part of what we can do to make some change, but it's something I do to save energy.

    • Tom Maybrier

      I can't even believe that actually happened. Wow.

    • The Ideas Arcade

      Keep fighting the fight Alessandra! Steven makes such good points in our interview that even small changes like using a clothesline can make such a big difference. We're just fascinated by the whole debate - in the UK clotheslines seem to be much more accepted. We're wondering what its like elsewhere in the world...?

      • CommunityMatters

        Oh, this all makes us smile! Our founder was part of the movement in Vermont to pass a "Right to Dry" law. It wasn't just about energy consumption, but also about preserving the heritage and character of small towns.

        Best quote: “Do my ‘tighty whities’ hanging on the line really shock and embarrass anyone? Well, certainly not in Vermont!”

        • The Ideas Arcade

          Ha, we like your quote! Good on your founder for helping to push that law through - it seems crazy that you have to fight at all, but better to fight than let crazy rules continue. Here's to clotheslines!