Building Your Own Laundry Line

Design at its core is about solving problems. A very important thing I learned in my design classes was to evaluate your “site” and exploit its strengths and minimize its weaknesses. Sometimes you can even turn a weakness INTO a strength.

Well I have an inferno hot “dog run,” or alley space if you prefer, that runs along the west side of my house. Why is the westerly direction worth noting? Because it gets tons of hot late afternoon sun. In fact, it gets so hot here in the summer time that the only thing the place is good for is storing our trash cans and our empty flower pots. The beauty of my “site” is that this space is surrounded on both sides by white walls. What does white do? It reflects sunlight and heat, and so these two white walls effectively bounce heat off each other like crazy.

Another thing about my site. This alley space is directly off my laundry area. So one day I thought to myself, “You know, if I were really smart, I would harness all of that freaking heat…hhhmmmm….what to do, what to do…..hhhhmmmm…” and then finally, after lots of thinking it hit me: A LAUNDRY LINE. Oh my gosh, why didn’t I think of that sooner. A laundry line. PERFECT. I could use my designer’s mind and turn a weakness (a blazing hot dead space) into a strength (a super ecofriendly alternative to my gas/electric dryer.)

So I enlisted my trusty partner in crime, my husband, to help me do it. But I didn’t want one of those huge umbrella shaped clotheslines because this space is narrow. I also didn’t want any of those retractable lines because they always seem to sag or break. So I told my husband I wanted a clothesline that would be sturdy and that had two long lines and he went to our local home improvement store and he bought:

– Two 5-gallon buckets (you could use leftover ones from plants you’ve planted if the plastic is sturdy enough)
– Two 50-pound sacks of quickdry cement
– 50-feet of clothesline
– Four-8 foot fence poles (this is a standard size, no cutting involved)
– Four-looped fence pole tops (that’s probably not their technical name, but look at the pictures and you’ll know what I’m talking about
– Four caribeneers

We then simply dug holes so that the buckets would be fully buried. We then put the buckets in the dirt and I held two poles in the bucket with about six inches between them while my husband poured in the cement and water.

As soon as the cement and water were in I could let go of the poles. We then let the poles cure overnight in the cement (the label of the cement bag said 24-hours) and the next day we backfilled the rest of the buckets with dirt so that the buckets were completely covered and invisible. We then put the caps with the loops on top of the poles, tied the clothesline to the carbineers and then hooked the carbineers to the loop. You could skip this last step and put the clotheslines directly on the loops, but we liked the carbineers because it allows us to remove the lines whenever we want and makes it a little easier to make the line super taut.

Voila, that day I did my first load of laundry that I hung dry with my perfect little wooden clothespins. In terms of estimating how long your line should be. My poles are 14 feet apart and initially I had two laundry lines for a total of 28 feet of natural clothes drying excellence. However, I found that with my high capacity laundry machine I actually needed a third line, which I strung on the same loop as the first line but made it much lower so that the laundry would dry properly. On this low line I hang rags, socks and other small items that won’t hit the ground. With the three lines (42 feet of clothesline total) I can hang one laundry load at a time. On a hot summer day I can dry 3 loads and on a sunny fall or winter day I can do a single load.

There is something very simple and perfect about hanging your laundry out…it’s almost meditative. And I love the smell of air dried laundry…and I love my $8 gas bills too. But more on that in my entry “Singing the Praises of a Laundry Line.”

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The Basics about this blog

This blog is maintained by Alegre of Green and Greener.

Although this blog is largely about ways to “be greener” in the environmental sense, in my mind being green isn’t just about being environmental, it’s about being sustainable in the many expressed and implied meanings that word conveys. It’s about the myriad of ways that we try to connect or reconnect with ourselves, our community and our environment.

A little bit about me: Before I studied interior design and started G&G, I studied anthropology undergrad and was also a resident advisor in the dorms (a GREAT way to study anthropology hands-on.) My anthropology and RA background gave me a strong foundation for evaluating my life as a human, my interactions with others and tools for changing both in ways that make life more fulfilling for me. This blog is not intended as a guide or anything…I simply wanted to share my thoughts and hopefully you’ll find something in these musings that speaks to you.

Before we begin, a few things I believe (you’ll see the anthropological underpinnings):

You can’t separate being human from being OF this planet we call Earth. It’s impossible. Without the earth we’d be homeless, starving and orphaned. Therefore the planet is something that needs to be cherished and safeguarded

– Because humans evolved over millennia, the rapid changes that have taken place in our society are changes that we have not yet evolved to adapt to and things like preservatives and highly-processed foods and chemicals are not good for us. I often make the analogy that fructose is to sugar as cocoa leaves are to cocaine. While one might be fine for us, the other can have more complicated consequences.

– That our society’s brand of independence fosters a sort of insidious, low-level intolerance that allows us to not deal with problems and instead ignore them or the people who cause them. How you gonna have world peace if you aren’t talking to your own sibling or neighbor?

– That all of the “free time” that modern life affords us is often spent doing things that don’t really make us happier or more fulfilled, they just help us pass the time. As the saying goes “idle hands…”

That the only thing that really matters in life are the relationships you have and the way you touch other people’s lives, and yet we are never taught this in school. If you aren’t constantly working on your relationships, you are leaving them to happenstance and personally, that has never been successful for me.

And even though I know all these things, believe me, I’m far from perfect. I have relationships that need work, I have neighbors I should engage more, I have free time that I waste…but I’m constantly trying to improve. And in my book even just attempting to improve is success. Remember, you can always be greener.

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