Like plastic bags, clothes pegs are an ecological disaster waiting to happen!
Today, millions of clothes pegs, or clothes pins, are manufactured very cheaply using non-biodegradable plastics or wood from deforestation contributing to the environmental nightmare for future generations.
The clothes peg design was invented by David M. Smith of Springfield, Vermont (USA) in 1853 by creating two interlocking plastic or wooden prongs in between which is often wedged a small spring. Demand for wooden clothes pegs has increased forcing manufactures to source wood from unsustainable suppliers or use modern manufacturing techniques using non-biodegradable plastics which build up in landfill sites or pollute the atmosphere when burned.
The first clothespin was invented by the Shakers, who did not patent their many inventions. This older design did not use springs, but was fashioned in one piece, with the two prongs part of the peg chassis with only a small distance between them, this form of peg creates the gripping action due to the two prongs being wedged apart and thus squeezing together in that the prongs want to return to their initial, resting state. This form of peg is often fashioned from plastic, or originally, wood. Historically, the wood used to create clothes pegs did not come from sustainable sources and has contributed towards deforestation and increased demand for wood.
The amount of plastic waste generated annually in the UK is estimated to be nearly 3 million ton and plastic clothes pegs contribute to this waste. Environmentally sensitive clothes pegs are available, produced using wood from sustainable sources or from recycled plastics, these clothes pegs are set to ensure that future generations can still dry their clothes naturally outdoors and reduce their overall carbon footprint.