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This 'Urban Clothespin' Is Solar-Powered and Glows in the Dark

Yup, somebody has given the humble clothespin a "sustainable twist."

The clothespin, like the mousetrap, isn't much in need of reinvention. Effective, compact, cheap – why would anyone mess with this triumph of engineering?

Allegedly, two inventors built this newfangled version because they wanted to make it more "sustainable." As they write at Designboom:

designers idan noyberg and gal bulka have designed the ‘lightly’ clothespin, a sustainable twist on an everyday item that lights up the cityscape in a sea of vibrant colors. by simply securing the cloth pegs to hanging garments on the street, an internal system autonomously shines at night. each clasp has a small solar panel attached to the top of its clip, which collects sunlight throughout the day. by dusk, a sensor supplies a tiny battery pack with the cue to turn on, automatically illuminating the LEDs in color. the intelligent twist on an ordinary household chore adds a visual contribution to the streetscape while maintaining an environmentally friendly design.

But I'm calling B.S. on this claim. How on earth is adding silicon and a battery pack better for the planet than using a standard wood-and-metal clothespin? (Unless today's pins are sourced from endangered Asian teak, although I'm assuming they're not.) Commenter "Roberto" pretty much nails it on the head, writing: "Not sure what makes them 'sustainable' though. Sounds like someone just threw in the word for the heck of it – 'greenwashing' to sell a product."

But they are certainly fine-looking, mellowing out the neighborhood like lights at a beachside fish shack. Get enough of them strung window to window and you hardly need street lamps anymore; everything would be all softly rainbow-basked like presents underneath a Christmas tree. That's still possible in countries that haven't become totally reliant on the washing machine, right?

Have a look:

Images by Idan Noyberg and Gal Bulka via Designboom

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.