In Montpelier, Vermont, the factory of the company called National Clothespin closed its doors for good in 2009. This is a pity, because it was the last of its kind. Now no one in America makes wooden-spring clothespins. So Americans must buy imported ones (if they can find them) or, alternatively, go to the home electric tumble-dryer or to the local Laundromat.
But, of course, you know that already, because, according to New Scientist, 80 percent of Americans already own a dryer, and most of the others keep Laundromats in business.
There are two troubles with that. The first is that doing laundry with electric help costs 10 percent more than the clothespin kind and adds the same amount to a household’s energy use. If we returned to the clothespin we could retire a few coal-burning power plants. And an electric dryer is one of the most dangerous appliances you can admit into your house, causing 15,000 household fires every year.
Progress is a wonderful thing. But sometimes what looks like progress ain’t.