Along the same lines, car washes are better than doing it by hand. Earth911 explains it best:
When we home wash, the run-off water goes untreated into storm drains, and eventually ends up in rivers, streams and wetlands. The dirty water may contain soap, detergent, residue from exhaust frames, gasoline or motor oil. Car washingRead the whole article on eco car washing here.
soap often contains phosphates and other nutrients, which spur the growth of algae. Excess algae not only block sunlight and prevent photosynthesis, but they use up oxygen.
Commercial car washes are required to drain wastewater into sewer systems, where the water is treated. For this reason, commercial car washes have less of an environmental impact than home-washing. Also, high pressure nozzles and pumps minimize water usage. The average home wash uses 80-140 gallons of water while the commercial average is 45 gallons.
Some car washes supposedly have ways to recycle and re-use the water. Even better, Treehugger has an article about a waterless wash called No Wet. There are others as well, but I have not used any myself...yet.
Hanging your clothes to dry is obviously better for the environment than using a dryer. Now, I don't currently do this. I'm in the process of getting my house ready to sell, so I don't see the point in putting in a clothesline, but I fully intend to put one at my new house. I know they have folding/retractable ones now that don't have to be a huge eye sore like the old ones were.
I believe we have to be realistic about what we're willing to do. Not everyone is Ed Begley. Maybe it's what we aim for, but that's something you have to work up to. Even if you don't put all your clothes out, some are better than none.