Some thoughts about buying a clothes dryer

Living with no house help, you can’t imagine how many times I’ve been tempted to buy a clothes dryer and a dishwasher. These electric appliances may be considered standard household items in First World countries but not in the Third World. In fact, the washing machine was not a standard household appliance until about two to three decades ago. And by “standard” I refer to the middle and upper classes in the urban centers. In more remote places, washing by hand is still the way to go. In urban areas where good laundry women are fast becoming a thing of the past, the washing machine is the ultimate solution. But because this is the tropics where, except during the monsoon season, we get enough sunshine to dry blue jeans on a clothesline in less than two hours (seriously, that’s how hot it gets), the rise of the washing machine did not at the same time give rise to the clothes dryer. Most households with washing machines still dry their clothes under the sun on clotheslines. Those living in high-rise buildings do it differently — they take their clothes to laundry services (wash, dry, fold — no ironing).

Clothesline plus sunshine plus warm breeze are the perfect things for drying clothes. Cost efficient definitely as sunshine and warm breeze are free and nylon clotheslines are very cheap. But the process of hanging the clothes then taking them down from the clothesline after they have dried can be time consuming. And, during months when the weather is so unpredictable (sunshine one moment, pouring rain the next), it also means risking getting the clothes drenched in the rain before they can be gathered together and taken indoors. And that’s the part that really sucks. Half-dried clothes that you don’t know what to do with. So, you can imagine the attraction of a clothes dryer.

Still, I dilly dally about buying a clothes dryer. Two reasons.

FIRST. This is the Philippines where power rates can make your head spin (we have higher power rates than Singapore). Electricity is gold in this country because of a monopoly in the power supply industry.

SECOND. The environment. Hanging clothes under the sun has no adverse environmental impact.

Which brings me to something that President Noynoy Aquino said in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) a couple of weeks ago. In the SONA speech, President Aquino said that confidence in the Philippines has grown and investors are again willing to pour in money for oil exploration.

…muling nabuhay ang kumpiyansa ng mga namumuhunan sa ating energy sector. Patunay dito ang isandaan at apatnapung kumpanya na nakahandang tumaya sa eksplorasyon at pagpapalakas ng ating oil at natural gas resources. Sa huling energy contracting round noong 2006, tatlumpu’t lima lang po ang nakilahok…

And I go, “WHAT???” In a country with so much sunshine and coastlines, we’re still not pushing for solar and wind energy?

I am one person. And I have serious issues about buying a clothes dryer because I consider the environmental impact of its usage.

Noynoy Aquino is one person. And he is the President of the Philippines. He has the power to influence the course of energy and environmental policies for the next five years, he has enough researchers to study the viability of gradually switching to more natural sources of power toward the total eradication of the use of fossil fuel, and there he went talking about oil exploration.

I’m not saying that I’m a better person than he is. I’m not saying that I am better informed than he is.

I’m just saying that something feels wrong.