Colourful clothes hang on a clothes line on a sunny day.

Photo Credit: Kim MyoungSung / Flickr

Don’t Like Clotheslines? Look The Other Way

Dryers are one of the biggest energy pigs in the house and they account for an estimated 9% of BC's energy use

Many BC stratas have ridiculous bylaws banning clotheslines

What is it with North America and banning clotheslines? Are we really that afraid of underwear?

Hanging laundry to dry on a warm summer day makes huge environmental and social sense. Think of it like plucking low-hanging fruit in our efforts to lower our energy use. Using fresh air instead of the dryer keeps pollution out of the atmosphere. What an amazing concept—we can use the free and clean energy of the sun to dry our clothes.

But some developers and communities disagree.

Take Crown Isle, for example. It’s an 871-acre golf community in East Courtenay, and it has strict rules and regulations against clotheslines. According to the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC), BC stratas often have a bylaw that reads like this:

“A resident must ensure that no air conditioning units, laundry, flags, clothing, bedding or other articles are hung or displayed from windows, balconies or other parts of the building so that they are visible from outside of the building.”

Maybe it’s something in our Puritan nature that finds it offensive to see someone else’s bedsheets and underpants flapping in the wind.

And maybe it’s time to get over it.

Dryers are one of the biggest energy pig appliances in your house. Only fridges are worse. In BC, dryers account for an estimated 9% of energy use.

Want to lower your hydro bill? Hang those clothes! Want to do your part for the climate? Hang those clothes!

What’s worse, homeowners report that dryers last as little as 5 or 7 years before they end up in the landfill.

The “right to dry” movement sprang up in the United States and Canada in the early 2000s. In Ontario, clothesline bans were scrapped more than a decade ago thanks to a successful right-to-dry campaign in Aurora.

Ontario’s 2009 Green Energy Act states that “outdoor clotheslines and clothestrees can be used in a residential context even in cases where, for example, the rules of a condo corporation prohibit them.”

There is no law like that in BC. There’s nothing to stop condo owners or stratas from banning clotheslines. That’s why SPEC has made it a priority to bring back the right to dry mission.

It seems the only reason why the bans exist is to keep up appearances. Nobody likes to see dirty laundry.

But luckily for the squeamish, the stuff hanging on clotheslines is clean!

If that still offends you, then look the other way.

Come on, BC, step out of the dark ages and into the 21st century. Ban the clothesline bans once and for all.

The sun rises every day. Why should we let prudes keep us from using it?