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Page added on October 30, 2009

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'Right to dry' could wean Americans off consumption

EARLIER this year, a company called National Clothespin of Montpelier, Vermont, mothballed its manufacturing equipment. As a result, there is no longer a single manufacturer of wooden clothes pegs in the US, even though that peculiarly American sect, the Shakers, invented them. National Clothespin now imports clothes pegs from China so it can inscribe cutesy phrases on them, attach magnets to the back, and sell them as novelty products.

There’s a good reason why the US no longer manufactures clothes pegs: lack of demand. 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.

Needless to say, all this drying uses a lot of energy. According to figures from the Department of Energy, tumble dryers gobble up over 3 per cent of all household electricity, and that doesn’t include drying that gets done at laundromats, hospitals, restaurants, universities and prisons, which are home to 2 million Americans.

New Scientist

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