Vermont Legislature Lets It All Hang Out - Wet Laundry, That Is | Environment | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Vermont Legislature Lets It All Hang Out - Wet Laundry, That Is

Local Matters


Published June 3, 2009 at 8:53 a.m.

Governor Jim Douglas didn’t get his panties in a bunch over this line item — a new law that guarantees Vermonters the right to dangle their damp drawers outdoors so that Mother Nature can do her thing.

As improbable as it sounds, until last week municipalities and home-owner associations could outlaw the age-old practice of hanging wet laundry outside to dry. But H.446, which took effect June 1, without the governor’s signature, now prevents anyone from banning “solar collectors, clotheslines or other energy devices based on renewable resources.” It’s this generation’s “sunshine laws.”

The original bill, S.18, didn’t generate much static in the legislature, largely due to the efforts of Vermont Country Store proprietor Lyman Orton, a longtime “right to dry” advocate who helped push the bill. Orton’s interests weren’t just financial — the Vermont Country Store sells clotheslines, clothes pins and drying racks — but also environmental: Clothes dryers account for about 15 percent of domestic energy usage in the United States, according to Project Laundry List.

Aside from the cost savings, line-drying linens and things makes them last longer, conserves energy and the environment, and reduces the risk of dryer fires, which account for about 16,000 house fires annually nationwide, PLL reports.

Of course, airing one’s dirty laundry in the legislature is still verboten.