As we close out the year I thought it would be fun to survey all the useless stuff I still have hanging around the house. Should I just trash these items or could there really be a use for some of them. It all started when I found a box of 124 floppy discs. On a whim, I googled “What to do with floppy discs?” and found that indeed someone had a list of 10 ways to reuse or recycle floppy discs.

This got me thinking about other things and I came up with 10 relatively useless items that I’ve found uses for:

  1. Dead things:
    *house plants – compost
    *tennis balls – nursing homes use them on the bottom of walkers. Dog owners can throw them for their dogs to chase
    *batteries – I don’t have a clever use for these but I did find out that alkaline batteries
    such as AAA, AA, C, D, and 9 volts can be safely thrown away. Rechargeable ones
    cannot. Radio Shack accepts rechargeable batteries.
    *bike tires – use as ties (like bungee cords) to safely attach things you don’t want to mar
    *cellphones/ipods – Check out Charity Guide
  2. Paper grocery bags – in addition to garbage can liners, I wrap Christmas gifts in them (It has become a quaint family custom.) Now that we usually take cloth bags to the grocery, however, we have to make a special effort to ask for paper at the grocery around Christmas time.
  3. Large glass bottles – recycling is good but we filled a couple with water and put them in the basement for an emergency (You never know when the next tornado will twirl by.)
  4. Diaper pails – modern parents may not even know what these are but since we used cloth diapers but no longer have babies, we have a couple large white plastic wastebaskets.
  5. 10 year old Lectionary of Sunday Mass readings – Since I get a dated new one each year, I was about to throw these old ones out till I remembered that they had optional translations approved by the Canadian bishops in them. I often prefer these translations.
  6. Used toothbrushes – sterilize them in a dishwasher or use them to scrub tiny places
  7. Old political buttons – use as a part of a Halloween costume
  8. Old political signs – use for yard sales
  9. Carpet samples – use with groups of pre-schoolers when you need each child to sit in one place. Tell them they need to keep their body on their own piece of carpet.
  10. Single socks and torn clothes – obviously, this is how one collects rags. But, is there any use for a single shoe, glove, or earing?

Can anyone suggest a creative (and easy) use for the following before I pitch/recycle them:

  1. Cassettes and VCR tapes – I just read that CDs and DVDs may soon be obsolete. That makes the cassettes true dinosaurs. I know you can probably convert them to a more modern medium, but I don’t know that I want to take the time and effort to do it. Still…
  2. Broken “Simon” game – It’s a great game for visiting children who don’t speak English since it’s not language dependent, but it doesn’t work and it’s not just the battery.
  3. Tarnished silver – Relatives handed several silver dishes down to me but frankly, I’m not into cleaning them for once a year use. Taking them to a thrift store doesn’t seem practical unless someone could get some money for them.
  4. Record albums and turn table – If tapes are obsolete, what would you call vinyl records? I like the songs for nostalgia and if I were a geek or wealthy I could convert them into some digital form. But other than using them as a platter or for an art project, any ideas?
  5. Misc. unidentified computer parts – I don’t know enough to know if any of these are important or valuable and don’t want to take the time to learn. The main thing I know, is that I shouldn’t just throw them in the garbage.

Useless  items I don’t own and never intend to own, i.e. Susan’s pet peeves.

  1. Extra deep mattresses – This seems to be the rage in hotels and people upgrading their home mattress. Not only is the extra depth not necessary for comfort, it forces one to buy new sheets, spreads, mattress covers, etc. If that were not bad enough, it is also very inconvenient. For short people (like me) it means I can’t sit on the bed to put my shoes on or take them off. (My feet can’t reach the floor. ) I’m guessing that the marketing angle is to project the image that such beds are more plush or that they conjure up notions of historic high beds. It’s a blatant example of planned obsolescence  and unfortunately people are falling for it.
  2. More than 3 pillows on a double bed. This is related to #1 above and again seems to be mostly to project a luxurious image. When I’m at a hotel or visiting I simply have to put all these extra pillows on the floor. I’m being generous with 3 pillows. If you have two people in a bed, only 2 pillows seem necessary.
  3. Diaper Genie – I saw this totally unecessary item given at a baby shower. I guess the idea is that it compacts disposable diapers into little  pellets. Why one can’t just put it in the garbage directly is a mystery to me. I think it’s a farce inflicted on new parents who don’t know any better.
  4. There are many other items that I don’t have time to list now because I’m on vacation and trying not to muddle my mind with annoying trivia.

PS: Speaking of “useless stuff,” perhaps you, might be interested in the story behind the stuff we have as told in The Story of Stuff. On a lighter, albeit a little risque side is George Carlin’s classic monologue on Stuff. Well, as you can see and hear, this end of the year blog collects a lot of stuff in one place.