Ontarians Might Finally Air Dry Their Unmentionables

Let ’em loose!


I’m a third generation eastern European.  By that token, my grandparents speak Ukrainian, my Dad went to Ukrainian Sunday School as a kid, and I learned only the really important words to a 10 year old (derogatory slang,  swear words, food, and money).  Both my grandparents on my Dad’s side grew up in Northern Alberta, the land of tar sands, foot hills, and the thousands of Ukrainian farmers that arrived during the large wave of immigrants after WWI.  In fact, there are hamlets and villages where the majority of residents are old, hunch backed baba’s leading their wrinkled and weathered husbands to the local coffee shop, each wearing either their proper dress or one of those itchy brown suits that make you sneeze when you stand too close to them.

So, growing up I acquired a flavor for farm life – although I never actually lived on a farm or did any farm work per se, I understood what it meant to live like one: my grandparents always put my brother and I to work every summer we visited, whether we were painting the 100’s of meters of fence around their property, burning off the old grass and mildew leftover from the previous year’s winter, tending to their enormous gardens (plural), or putting clothes on the line.  The ten or so “neighbours” that lived between the two rural roads and two minor highways just north of Edmonton all had their own clotheslines, easily visible from the gravel road that connected everyone in the “neighbourhood”.

Good thing they lived in Alberta, because for a long time its has been illegal to air-dry clothes in some areas of Ontario.  Apparently

Outdoor clotheslines are currently banned in some parts of the province under municipal bylaws and in some cases contracts with home builders, usually for aesthetic reasons, but Ontario is examining allowing anyone living in a freehold detached, semi-detached or row house to put one out in their yard.

I have a hard time believing “aesthetic reasons” could solely justify banning clotheslines.  Often, clotheslines are associated with poverty, as poorer immigrant-dominated neighbourhoods of large cities (take NYC’s Brooklyn and Queens, for example) were forced to use solar power to dry their clothes out of necessity – perhaps this is a bit more telling.  However, times they are a changing, and clothes launderers are looking for cleaner and cheaper alternatives to power hungry dryers.  Indeed…

Clothes dryers consume on average 900 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, or six per cent of residential consumption. If a quarter of that was hung out to dry not only would it reduce greenhouse gases but it’d also save consumers $30 a year on their electricity bills.

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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: davidsemeniuk.com