RIP: the clothes peg

RIP: the clothes peg

Wooden clothes pegs, an invention of the American sect, the Shakers, have been mothballed and are no longer manufactured in the United States. Why? A sharp decline in the use of clothes lines:

Some 80 per cent of US households own and operate a tumble dryer, with millions more of us going down the street to a laundromat. The average American household dries eight loads of washing a week; over 2 million households do 15 loads a week or more.

Further, there’s a stigma to the display of a clothes line in America:

Clothes lines are viewed as flags of poverty, yet we could be saving 10 percent on energy costs if we did our laundry the green way. Clothes lines evoke a negative emotional reaction from many Americans, who view them as flags of poverty. Property owners often fear that a clothes line in their neighbourhood will lower the value of their house.

There’s also a strange brand of prudery at play. Middle-aged men, prone to scanning the web for all manner of scantily clad beings, do not want to see oversized bloomers out their window.

Projects like Project Laundry List could be turning things around and studies such as Pew giving insight. 

[Image: “Original wooden pegs. The two on the left, the oldest of the collection, are known as ‘gipsy clothes pegs’ from the beginning of the 20th century.]