Solar Laundry Project Winds Down

The Kamloops Chapter of the BCSEA is pleased to announce that The Solar Laundry Project is winding down, now that the last set of winners in the weekly draws has been completed. Eighty new clotheslines are now flapping in the breeze around Kamloops, compliments of the Kamloops Chapter and partners BC Hydro and Kamloops Home Hardware Building Centre.

Why did they do it? Chapter chair Cheryl Kabloona explains: “Currently, clothes dryers account for roughly 6% of all electricity use province-wide. We believe that especially in a sunny place like Kamloops, it really makes sense to promote such an obvious form of sustainable energy.”

One of the biggest lessons learned during the campaign was the prevalence of the myth that the City of Kamloops has clothesline bans. Mayor Peter Milobar was unequivocal on the topic. “The City has no clothesline ban. Unless you live in a strata or a place where a developer enforces a clothesline prohibition, you’re free to use one. Actually, we encourage people to use clotheslines because it’s a way to reduce energy consumption. The Sustainable Kamloops Plan calls for a 20% reduction in community energy use (compared to 2010), so this is one way we can move that goal forward.”

Committee member Gisela Ruckert attributes the success of the project to a positive, playful approach. “It was a real win-win message – saving energy and winning free clotheslines. We had a lot of fun talking to folks about “putting a little sunshine in their shorts”, and it was great to hear people’s stories of why they love using their clothesline. The fresh smell of laundry dried in the sun seems to be the biggest reason people get attached to them.”

In addition to posters, weekly media releases, appearances on local radio and TV programs, and a strong social media campaign, Chapter volunteers set up information booths at public events to promote the contest. The actual registrations were accepted online, starting in early June. Draws were done weekly, which gave everyone several chances to win.

There were over 600 entries in the contest, and two-thirds asked to be added to the local BCSEA email list, a surprisingly high number, says Ruckert. “It shows that people are serious about sustainability.” Volunteers also seized the opportunity to promote other energy-saving habits like using cold water and washing full loads, as well as directing people to BC Hydro’s Power Smart website for more tips.

As part of the draw registration, participants were asked to fill out a basic survey on their household’s laundry habits and energy use. That data will now be collated and shared. “Public education is a big part of what we do, and it’s interesting to get real data on what proportion of people already use clotheslines, how many loads of laundry people do per week, whether they use cold water, etc.”

The Solar Laundry Project is over for now, but who knows – there might be another opportunity for Kamloopsians to get hung up on clotheslines. For a cute video of the next generation of clothesline users, click here!

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