Here in the green states, the Prius is the big status symbol. Oh, hi, these cars say, I spent $24,000 on a little dolphin-shaped car and its precious-metal-laden battery so I can use less gasoline than you.
Thank God there's now a cheaper way to display your loyalty to the Earth: Fly your underwear and socks in the air.
It wasn't so long ago that drying your laundry in the backyard was a sign of poverty and tastelessness. Now all the best people are drying their clothes au naturel. The clothespin, long relegated to craft projects, has made a comeback as a pin for clothes, at least here where poor people aren't so poor as to steal your laundry off the line and there aren't many neighborhood associations banning the sight of laundry trees.
In Marin County, the sound of a dryer spinning is as shameful as the sight of a plastic shopping bag.
So for $27 I bought an expandable clothes rack. A full load of jeans dried in three hours in the summer sun.
Problem: where to hang all those pesky and thick athletic socks. Aha. About 15 years ago, when we had jobs and spent money with abandon, we bought a $300 wrought-iron torchiere that held 16 candles. We used it maybe twice during dinner parties, because it dripped wax on the rug and couldn't be trusted not to set fire to the house. Even when the candles weren't lit, they drooped every which-way.
Now the damned thing holds sixteen socks and some shirts and underwear high up in the sun. Our neighbors can see this proud status symbol over the fence and, from the size of the socks, ascertain our small carbon footprint.
The total savings: About $3 on each month's electric bill. We've turned a useless yuppie status symbol into a useful one, and in about eight years we'll have paid it off.