Drying laundry outside can be much better on the environment than using conventional machines, but some buildings do not allow it. Photo by Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror

Drying laundry outside can be much better on the environment than using conventional machines, but some buildings do not allow it. Photo by Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror

Clothesline act help B.C. meet climate goals

Anti-Clothesline rule one of many outdated rules that inadvertently dissuade eco-friendly activity

When (or if) it finally stops raining a lot of my life moves outside, including my laundry.

To be honest, it makes a lot of sense to dry laundry outside. Clothes dryers use a lot of energy. They’re often some of the most energy intensive appliances in a home, using anywhere between 1.8 to 5 kWh of electricity. The sun and wind, however, is absolutely free and completely renewable. Why wouldn’t we use them?

Part of the reason is that a lot of us aren’t allowed to. There are many people living in B.C. who can’t use clotheslines. While clotheslines are not listed in Campbell River’s bylaws, that decision can be made by stratas and other land managers. I used to live in an apartment building in Victoria, and there the managers would not allow clothes to be hung in view of the window, let alone outside, because it was not the look that the building wanted people to see. That building also had a laundry room that I had to pay to use, so not only was I forced to use the energy-intensive appliance to do work that the sun could do for free, but I had to pay to do it!

Not being allowed to dry your clothes outside because it’s not what someone considers “pretty” is wild. Life is expensive in B.C., and it’s getting worse. Plus the government has a big plan to reduce emissions and energy use drastically over the next few years. Seems to me that this is a very easy way to make some headway there.

I am not the only one who thinks so either. In January, the City of Powell River’s Climate Change Committee (yeah they have one of those) brought the idea to council, which moved to lobby the Province to make a clothesline act. That act would basically supersede all bylaws and rules against clotheslines in the province. The resolution was endorsed by AVICC (Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities) and will be discussed at the UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) conference in September. If endorsed, it would then go in the UBCM’s recommendations to the province.

It’s still a long way before any kind of provincial action takes place on this. The province doesn’t automatically agree with everything UBCM says, and who knows what’ll happen between now and September — especially considering the local elections coming up.

However, it does make sense that the province would at least consider it. The British Columbia Clean Energy Act was set up to reduce electricity demand 66 per cent by 2020. While reporting on whether or not that actually happened may not have been a priority in the chaotic year that was 2020, BC Hydro did see a record electricity demand in 2020 of 10,577 megawatts. I don’t think we should use 2020’s statistics as exemplary, because well that year was about as far from normal as we’ve seen in a while.

It does say something that this resolution has come up this year, however. In general we need to reduce our consumption of well, everything. The problem is, so many rules that were set up in the time before climate change just don’t let us make the changes that we desperately need to make.

So as soon as it stops raining, you can expect to see my clothes out on the line.

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