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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

Enough rope to hang ...
March 13, 2008 - 2:10pm

The Boston Globe just published an article about homeowners’ associations which ban the use of clotheslines, and state legislative efforts to outlaw such restrictions. Regardless of where you stand on big government/small government/no government and other such semaphore political formulations, this is kind of a bellwether issue for sustainability awareness.

Many homeowners — and there may be a selection effect here with regard to homeowners’ associations — apparently associate air-drying of laundry with low socio-economic status, rather than energy conservation and environmental responsibility. I’m told that, during World War II, growing your own vegetables and making clothes last as long as possible were considered signs of patriotism, rather than poverty. Both of those practices are still good ideas — only society’s perceptions have changed.

It’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing clotheslines running between residence halls anytime soon (if your campus is an exception, please let me know), but counteracting the gentrification/yuppification which has afflicted US society over the past 40-50 years is going to be a real challenge. Locally sustainable economies and “nimby” attitudes don’t mix well. Is there useful research on how (short of a world war) to move society away from rampant materialism and towards sustainable simplicity? I’m not optimistic (but I hope I’m wrong).


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