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LIANE HANSEN, host:

As Earth Week ends, Americans have been trying to find ways to soften our ecological impact, but according to WEEKEND EDITION essayist Diane Roberts, some grassroots solutions are not popular with everyone.

DIANE ROBERTS: You mosey out into your backyard to see if any more leaves from that stupid oak tree have fallen into your pool. You glance over the neighbor's fence and there it is: laundry. Pillow cases, camisoles, blue jeans, brassieres, bath towels, T-shirts, dress shirts, sweatpants, pajamas - hanging brazenly from a clothes line right there for everyone to see.

You were pretty sure the subdivision covenant outlaws clotheslines. It is a known fact that clotheslines are unsightly, tacky. Clotheslines depress property values. Let in clotheslines and the next thing you know it will be pink plastic lawn flamingoes, chickens on the back porch, a wheel of a Chevy Nova up on concrete blocks in the front yard, 23 cousins from the old country living in the family room. Chaos.

They call it the Right to Dry movement. They tell you America has at least 88 million tumble dryers. Those 88 million tumble dryers produce 2,224 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year. They say you can help slow down global warming if you'll just hang your washing out. They claim a clothesline is part of good environmental citizenship using solar and wind power instead of an electrical appliance.

It's cheaper, they chirp. Your sheets will smell like sunshine. They say, what's the big deal with people's Fruit of the Looms flapping gently in the breeze? After all, starlets and celebutantes are always showing off their panties and other intimate garments.

They point out that in many parts of Italy and Spain they just string the clotheslines from window to window over the street, and their cultures haven't exactly gone to wreck and ruin.

Well, this isn't Italy or Spain. This is Sunny Meadow Estates. This is a place with rules. This is a place where everyone gets along because no one knows who wears a thong - or a flannel nightie; a place where the difference between boxers and briefs is shrouded in decent obscurity, where the tumble dryer is not only a household convenience but an instrument of moral rectitude.

The clothesline radicals can insist they're saving the planet, but they'll have to pry my cold, dead fingers from my box of Downy April Fresh dryer sheets.

HANSEN: Diane Roberts lets it all hang out in Tallahassee, Florida's sunshine.

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