No, those aren’t Tibetan prayer flags strung up at Yonge and Carlton—it’s Toronto Hydro airing their dirty laundry for all to see, and if our own observations are any indicator, the windblown apparel is attracting a lot of mystified attention from pedestrians below.
The stunt is a reminder that they’re giving out free clotheslines at Costco, Wal-Mart, and Home Depot for two more weekends. The campaign is targeting clothes dryers because the average dryer consumes 875 kilowatt hours of electricity each year—about 6% of your electricity bill—and because the Ontario government has lifted the ban on clotheslines implemented by some subdivisions and homeowner associations.
Apartment and condo rules banning the use of outdoor clotheslines still apply, but Toronto’s box dwellers, who make up about half of the city’s population, can pick up foldable indoor racks. These racks can also have a humidifying effect during the winter when the air is driest, and if you don’t like your towels feeling like sandpaper, throw them in the dryer for ten minutes—or add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle, believe it or not.
Clotheslines are often seen as a visual blight and and indication of poverty, but with a strained electrical grid, the switch to time-of-use metering, and the popularity of green power retailer Bullfrog, Torontonians may start to see the humble clothesline as a new kind of social statement.
Photo by Marc Lostracco.