Clothes pegs and clothespins

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The use of clothes pegs and clothespins (same animal, just different lingo for different countries) is a rarity in some places; particularly those neighborhoods where clotheslines are banned, such as in many parts of the United States. How stupid. But then so are many ordinances in America. Romani split pegHowever, for those of us who can dry our clothes outdoors, peg selection and how we use these clothespins can be a part of our greening.

Outdoor clothes lines are very common in Britain and other parts of Europe and most of us would be familiar with different types of pegs and clothespins. Generally the same basic design is used, whether they are made of wood or of plastic.

The difference is, as said, mostly in materials; which is either wood or plastic. Though, it has to be said there is the old dolly peg design of the clothespin which is based on the Gypsy split peg of old. I will come to that one at other times in this piece and especially at the end of the article.

I try to avoid the plastic pegs as they have a tendency to break after a while due to exposure to sunlight – as does most plastic – and that just adds more plastic to an already overburdened waste stream. While having a couple of dozen pegs break a year may not seem such a big deal, when millions of other people experience the same, it all adds up and makes a lot of plastic waste that adds to the other plastic waste. So, let's go for wood.

I came come across some weird and wacky plastic peg designs that promise to make hanging out washing a little less boring but regardless of the design, this task will remain about the same, as far as I am concerned, as far as excitement is concerned. Furthermore, some of those comparatively expensive pegs look to use more plastic and some appeared as if they would certainly not have the life expectancy of their traditional counterparts due to their construction.

Wooden clothespins are a better choice, in my opinion. The main issue with wooden pegs in terms of waste would be the metal spring, as manufacturing metals is a resource intensive exercise. Thus even wooden clothes pegs deserve a little care to get the most from them. At least with wood pegs, the bulk of the waste can be returned to the earth once they've reached the end of their serviceable live. Once again the Gypsy peg does not have the problem with the metal spring and the wire or the tin strip are in fact repurposed waste items.

Extending the life of a pegs is rather pretty simple. First of all do not leave them on the line. Bring them inside between washes and this regardless whether it is a plastic or wooden peg. You will thus dramatically improve its serviceable life.

Caring for your pegs certainly won't save the planet, but it will just shave another small slice off your overall environmental impact and lots of small slices add up to a big chunk. While clothespins are an inexpensive product, you will also save a few bucks too. As the old saying goes, “watch your pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”.

Line drying, where legal and possible, should be considered above the use of an electric clothes dryer at home. Aside from saving money on you electricity bill you reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and your clothes will smell better too. If you can't dry outside because of the weather use your heating radiators though you will need to use the spin cycle of your washing machine an extra once or twice. I do and it works well, even with jeans.

In addition: you can make your own clothespins the old-fashioned Gypsy way and thus save money here too. Aside from that; made well those will last for decades and more.

Gypsy split pegs are easily made and a leaflet as to how to make them can be had for the asking – in PDF – from this author.

© 2011