Thursday, September 28, 2023

in praise of the laundrette

In the past, I've waxed lyrical about how great libraries are.

And if you've ever been on any sessions I'd led about getting to grips with bookkeeping, or feeling more confident in how you can understand accounts, you'll know I also rave about museums too.

But I now want to create a trilogy of destinations that are often overlooked, but which we should all really recognise and value more - laundrettes.

Once a bastion of high streets, they still offer a critical and unparalleled role in our communities, when you consider what they represent and offer (beyond the ability to do a large load): 

  • they are meeting places = offering people a neutral space to come together and so help tackle social isolation, and facilitate community cohesion through enabling people to share time, and conversations together who might not otherwise meet.  
  • they are warm spaces = in an age of increasing fuel poverty, a bank of tumble dryers will definitely keep the chill off, without having to use energy to turn on additional heaters.
  • they help us reduce carbon emissions and reduce environmental impacts = every so often, I hear about a community somewhere that's launching a tool library (how often do you really need to have a power drill?) Surely better in lots of ways to be able to borrow one occasionally, rather than buying it and only using it once a year. Laundrettes offer us that option of shared equipment that we all need to varying degrees of frequency, but may struggle to otherwise (1) have the space for, or (2) afford.
  • they act as community hubs = no laundrette I've ever visited has ever not had noticeboards and information about local events and services.
  • they offer economic inclusion = machines are usually not contactless, instead relying on coins. And that's important, because here in the UK, over 1 million people don't have a bank account (about 1 person in every 70).
  • And on a purely personal note, who doesn't love the smell of freshly laundered sheets..?

So please - next time you're passing one, even if you don't have any bags of laundry with you that need a quick rinse, just as with libraries and museums, step inside and savour them.

They've been closing at the rate of about 4 every week for the last 45 years - when the last one goes, we'll loose all of the above, and probably won't realise just how important they were until it's too late...

No comments:

Post a Comment