Friday, 27 April 2007

The Power of the Sun

Most Malaysians don't think about it. We wash our clothes and then we hang it out in the sun to dry. What's the big deal?

I remember when we were staying at the Sandpoint Student Housing of the University of Washington in Seattle in the early 1990s. We learnt about the power of the sun from an Aussie lady named Jenny. When its Spring, she gets very excited when the sun comes out. She will do her laundry and hang it out to dry. We asked why she bothered. Why not just pop them into the electric dryer? That's when we learnt how passionate she was (I guess still is) about energy conservation. To her, it was about harnessing the sun (which is a renewal energy) instead of using electricity (which is generated mostly from non-renewal energy such as petroleum or coal which are also polluting; not to mention generating more heat from the dryers).

The above picture was taken on one of my walks in the USM main campus in March 2007 (its behind one of the student hostel). It brings back memories of my time as a student in USM (not so long ago?). I am glad that our students are still harnessing the power of the sun to do their laundry. There is nevertheless a dobi (laundrette) just next to this clothesline which uses several electric dryers. I hope that the students use it only when its rainy or for large pieces of laundry too difficult to manage manually.

The building on the left is popularly referred to as the Hilton. I stayed there for a year when I was a first year student. Notice the "flags" on the staircase railings? I remember it was a hassle to wash your own clothes here because there was no special place to dry them in the building. If you were staying on the 7th floor (which I was) you would not be bothered to go all the way to the ground to hang your clothes to dry. But these girls (yes, girls have taken over) are more industrious. As Dato Dzul said, girls are different - in the sense they will go one step further when comes to personal care. What did I do? Hmm, I think I sent mine to a laundry lady (actually, the lady comes to collect from the students; I believe they are family "businesses" using traditional methods, i.e. handwashed).

Some of you may recall a former prime minister who made big fuss about these "unsightly flags" hanging out of apartment blocks in KL. In Putrajaya (our new administrative capital) I heard that there was a suggestion that clothes line would not be allowed (even on the ground) and every house would have to be fitted with an electric dryer. Now, that is certainly not in line with principles for sustainable development. But we can't blame the residents. Our designers and developers don't think about such inconveniences.


gspoh said...

Electric dryer is also used here, and this mainly due to the fact that there is really not many days of sunshine in a year.

In Malaysia, there is plenty of sunshine and plenty of rains, we're really blessed, and your post makes me to think why can't we have our own model of house that really utilise these abundant resources we have.

Electric dryers for every house while sunshine aplenty? what for? ;p

Anonymous said...

hello, may i know who is the prime minister that says hanging clothes on the clothes line is not allowed and making fuss about the hanging clothes out to dry?
i'm doing research of this. found out ur blog. nice written one.