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Reflecting on Dryer Strike Week, a Submission from the Warren Wilson College Environmental Leadership Center Campus Greening Crew

by Emma Martin, guest writer

“Clotheslines are sexy!”

“Fresh air smells nice.”

“Boycott your dryer (it won’t mind).”

These statements were brightly painted on large cardboard signs and strung on giant clotheslines outside Gladfelter on Oct. 5 to herald the arrival of Dryer Strike Week.

The goal of Dryer Strike Week, put on by the Environmental Leadership Center’s Campus Greening Crew, was to inspire students to boycott their dryer the next time they did laundry and use a clothesline instead. The dryer, like most household appliances, is a huge energy sucker. The average dryer burns 4.4 pounds of carbon dioxide per load of laundry. Dryers are also expensive, costing their owners up to $3500 by the end of a single dryer’s lifetime.

At the beginning of the strike, forty two students were asked to pledge to use a clothesline instead of a dryer the next time they did their laundry. Forty of these 42 agreed to the challenge. In an ideal world, every dryer on campus would have been silent during the whole week. Of course, this was not the case. A brief, daily peek into the Dorland laundry room revealed that at least two dryers were running every night during the strike. However, the event proved to be a very successful catalyst for student thought and discussion. The bits of clothing and anti-dryer slogans hanging above students’ heads at mealtimes seemed to influence their discussions, and bits of conversation on the topic could be heard throughout Strike Week.

When asked why they would choose a dryer over a clothesline, students’ most popular response was that they lacked access to a clothesline. There are very few clotheslines on campus, and the ones that do exist are installed outdoors. Clothes dry great outdoors as long as it is sunny and above 50 degrees, which is most of the year at WWC. But when conditions are not right, or when students feel insecure about hanging their laundry where it can easily be stolen, outdoor clotheslines don’t cut it. Twenty nine of the 40 students who pledged wish to see indoor clotheslines installed in all the dorms.

Of course, some students simply prefer the ease of using a dryer amidst their busy schedules. Others say that the warm, soft feeling of freshly-dried clothing is one of those simple pleasures in life that just can’t be replaced. Regardless, we can’t hide from the fact that dryers consume fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. So, even though Dryer Strike Week is over, the challenge is still there: Dry on the line. And if you don’t have access to clotheslines or need them indoors, talk to your dorm staff and start a line-drying revolution.


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