On a hot, muggy summer night, nothing helps you get to sleep like cool, crisp sheets that have been dried on the clothesline. Every time I lie down on our Clothesline Crisp sheets I am thankful that my children get to experience the same delight, and that their grandfather— my father, Lyman Orton — helped make sure all Vermonters have a “Right to Dry.”
Clothesline bans may be familiar to folks in other parts of the country, but to lifelong Vermonters, they were an affront to our unique way of life. As communities grew, some neighborhoods began prohibiting clotheslines, because of the perceived unsightliness of people’s clothing and bedding blowing in the breeze. It all came to a head in 2009 when Lyman decided enough was enough. “There is nothing more consistent with a Vermonter’s heritage of practicality, frugality, and common sense than hanging laundry on a clothesline and allowing nature to dry it with zero use of energy.” Lyman led the “Right to Dry” campaign in support of a bill that would outlaw bans on the use of clotheslines in Vermont.
In spectacular Vermont fashion, the law was passed, preserving every Vermonter’s Right to Dry. In the years since, we’ve grown even more concerned with ways we can cut back on energy use, reduce costs, and shrink our carbon footprint, making Lyman’s stand even more practical. “The sun and wind are free,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense not to use them.”
Vermont’s Right to Dry is a simple, but important way that we can use our natural resources wisely. Even more importantly, it is a symbol of the Vermont lifestyle that we believe is worth protecting for the next generation.
So instead of tossing your laundry in the dryer, next time let your clothes hang free, so nature can do the work. Breathe deep the scent of summer, and remember the Green Mountains and lush valleys of Vermont, the place where Freedom and Unity isn’t just a state motto.
for the Orton family, Proprietors of The Vermont Country Store