I think the first time I really seriously reconsidered the American ubiquity of the dryer was when I was in college, and a friend of mine made a list of ten things she considered hysterically funny about Americans. Number 3, after paying more money for milk with the fat pulled out and something about our worldview, was that we consider it perfectly normal to buy an enormous box at great expense to do precisely what the air will do for you anyway. Put that way, and with her performance of “American justifying why they need a dryer,” it was pretty humorous.
It isn’t like I even had one much of the time growing up – w but I’d never seriously questioned the idea that they were normal. I assumed I’d have one. But after that, it never seemed to be a necessity – and for most of my adult life, I’ve not owned a dryer.
I recognize that there are a few people who can’t hang laundry – a very few. Elderly folks who have to do their laundry at laundromats can’t haul wet laundry up stairs. There are probably a few other good ones. But that’s pretty much it. Don’t have an outside to dry clothes? Get a good laundry rack. Can’t reach a normal clothesline? My friend Pat sits down and hangs her laundry on hangars and then hangs them on the shower rack. I just don’t see the compelling case for the dryer – and I have four kids, and I’ve done this with multiple non-toilet trained kids, and used cloth diapers.
Making heat with electricity produced largely by coal to dry clothes is something we simply can’t afford – and natural gas is only slightly better. We need to reserve fossil fuels for things that can’t be done without them, But moreover, the hundreds of dollars a year to maintain and fire your dryer is simply money you don’t need to spend.
How do we know this? Well, one of the compelling bits of evidence is that a billion plus people in China (not to mention much of the rest of the world) have somehow managed to live without dryers – even once they could afford them (thanks to Stephen B. for sending this one to me!):
As increasingly affluent Chinese embrace all the accouterments of the modern, middle-class Western lifestyle — big-screen televisions, automobiles, washing machines, double-door refrigerators with automatic icemakers — one glaring exception stands out: the clothes dryer.
Tweet 0diggsdiggYahoo! Buzz ShareThis For reasons practical as well as cultural, most Chinese consumers simply don’t like clothes dryers. Don’t want them. Don’t trust them. Won’t buy them. And, even when they have them around, won’t use them.
According to a spokesman for the appliance store Best Buy, the Chinese market for dryers — or even washer-dryer combinations — “is by no means fully developed.” In the chain’s stores, dryers and washing machines with dryer functions make up just 10 percent of all washing machine sales.
Other businesses report similar experiences. Zhao Na, a saleswoman for Haier washing machines, a domestic brand, said, “Our factory stopped producing dryers since last year because they don’t sell.”
It certainly isn’t true that a couple of billion non-dryer users *can’t* be wrong, but in this case, there’s a real likelihood that they aren’t.