The most frequently asked question I get when I tell people that I use cloth napkins daily is, “Doesn’t the energy it takes to wash and dry them make them just as bad paper napkins?” 

My answer is always, “I only have white napkins so I wash them with my regular white load and hang them out to dry. I don’t think I use any extra energy to clean them.”

The next question is often, “You use a clothesline?”

Sure, I do. I find hanging things on the line outside to be a very relaxing activity. And let’s face it, anything that gets someone my age to bend up and down repeatedly is considered good exercise.

Plus, every time I hang a load of laundry out to dry instead of putting it in my energy hogging clothes dryer, I save 5 pounds of greenhouse gasses from being released into the atmosphere.

So I find it amazing that some people, some communities, find laundry lines offensive. Drying for Freedom, a new documentary due out next year, explores the fact that in the land of the free, many people don’t have the freedom to have what many people refer to as a solar powered clothes dryer - the outdoor clothesline.

Drying for Freedom follows the battle for the right to dry clothes naturally revealing the passions, politics and murders asking why drying clothes became a life threatening, environmental social catastrophe and questioning the validity of clotheslines being banned in over 50 million homes across Northern America considering 6% of the average household energy bill goes on electric clothes drying; translating into $5 billion a year in the US alone.
I’m looking forward to seeing this film when it comes out, and I’m also looking forward to the conversations that it will hopefully open up. What are your thoughts on outdoor clotheslines?


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

50 million homes are banned from this energy saving device
In the land of the free, I'm free to dry my cloth napkins on a clothesline, but are you?