Few hung up over lifting of clothesline ban

Environmental advocates believe that allowing Ontarians to hang their clothes outside will work in saving electricity.

In a bid to encourage Ontarians to quit using their dryers, the McGuinty government recently announced new regulations that no longer ban clotheslines from being hung in subdivisions.

The regulation is directed at semi-detached, freestanding and row houses. Private builders originally enforced the ban, mainly for aesthetical purposes, environmental advocates say.

Dan McDermott, director of Sierra Club of Ontario, (a grassroots organization that aims at protecting the environment), says lifting the ban is a good move.

“Putting an end to the clothesline ban will work to save energy,” McDermott said. “All of these little things help.”

“Small initiatives like this feed into one another,” he added. “We are already seeing people responding to the challenge of climate change by altering their habits, so this will create more awareness.”

McDermott says that dryers are one of the main contributors to energy consumption in households.

McDermott said that on average, households consume 10 per cent of their energy through the frequent use of dryers.

“Now if Ontario can reduce energy demand by 10 per cent, that will take at least one coal plant off the line,” he said.

Even though McDermott believes that the use of clotheslines will now be more prevalent, the observations of one of Markham’s Planning and Urban Design coordinators, Ron Blake, shows that the use of clotheslines are rare, even in places where there is no clothesline ban in place.

“In the west district of Markham, I hardly see any houses with clotheslines,” Blake said. “Markham doesn’t even have by-laws that forbid people from using clotheslines.

“People probably don’t use clotheslines just because it’s their personal choice,” Blake said. “And because people have dryers,” he said.

According to Jesse D’Andrade, an appliance salesperson at the Brick in Markham, people are still buying dryers.

“I don’t think this new regulation will stop people from using dryers this summer,” D’Andrade said. “I’ve sold a few dryers just this week, and it’s spring. And the other salespeople here have sold dryers this week too,” he said.

Viive Sawler, manager of the Markham Energy Conservation office, supports the new regulation.

“I think this new regulation is a great move and I think it will encourage some people to stop using their dryers this summer,” Sawler said. “It’s silly not to use clotheslines, the clothes smell better that way (laughs).”

Sawler says that on average, household dryers consume up to 900-kilowatt hours a year.

Bill Blakes, City of Toronto’s Manager of Municipal Licensing, lives in a clothesline-friendly environment.

“My wife prefers using the clothesline. She said my clothes come out fresher that way.”

Toronto Hydro is giving away 75,000 clotheslines through four retail companies: Wal-Mart, Costco, Home Depot and Zellers.

The giveaway begins April 26. See torontohydro.com for details.