I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve had someone presume our dryer is broken when I mention our clothes line / they see it hanging on our back deck. Much like when we lived in South Carolina and I had people stop and ask me if I needed a ride when I walked to the store, people automatically expect that your dryer must be broken if you use a clothes line. Really, anything that bucks the trend of convenience gets a sidelong look at minimum, even if it’s better for your pocketbook/health/the environment. Comfort and ease is usually king unless you’re mindful to how you spend your time.
Oddly enough, line drying clothes outside is one of my favorite chores. Maybe part of this comes from living in the damp Pacific Northwest where the weather only cooperates maybe 1/3 of the year, so line drying means it’s lovely out. It’s also something that requires both hands, so I can’t be multitasking/on my phone and instead be present in what I’m doing at the moment (or using it to listen to my audiobook and enjoying some time to myself – in short order since becoming a mom).
As it is with most frugal choices I make, starting line drying didn’t come a drive to save money, since the cost savings isn’t huge (though it is there). Environmentally, using air (and occasionally sun when it decides to grace our presence) to dry clothes uses less electricity and is gentler on fabrics, so your clothes last longer. This was especially important to me when it comes to cloth diapers, because I want them in good shape to pass to someone else once my son is potty trained. Now that I’ve given up buying clothes for myself for an indefinite period of time, I have that much more incentive to treat the pieces I do own gently and get them to last longer. Any time we can cut down on buying new (even new from the thrift store or hand-me-downs) because we’ve kept our things in better repair, the lighter our impact on the planet. Saving a few dollars on our utility bill is just an added bonus.
Once late spring rolls around, we shut off our furnace, but we do have window ac units. Air conditioning never used to be common here, but warmer summers than we’re used to has them selling out at Costco now very year. Running the dryer during the summer and heating up our house and then having to turn the ac on to cool it down drives me nuts. Not only does air drying save the cost of the dryer but also the air conditioning needed to cool the house back down. If we’re really serious about minimizing our environmental impact, we need to be thinking about our every day habits – ignoring our dryer for a part of the year is just one part of it.