Ten Old Things Project

In this age of planned obsolescence it’s easy to justify purchases that we know will have a limited life span. The days of searching for the longest-lasting, most efficient or most dependable solutions to our problems have been quietly replaced by a quick glance at some best-selling or highest review metrics. If a new version comes out or a better solution comes along, we’re far too quick to discard and repurchase. Regardless of whether or not this is a global trend, it’s certainly true of my own purchasing history – Hello there, Apple products.

In an effort to combat this tendency toward consumption and waste, I started thinking about the things I own that I wouldn’t want to trade or upgrade. I was specifically interested in items that I’ve used no less than once per month for at least five years. Surprisingly, I own very few things that have gone that distance. Here are my top 10.

  1. Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop

    Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop

    You might think that all ice cream scoops are created equal. In that case, you’d be wrong. The sealed handle of the Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop contains a defrosting fluid that transfers the heat from your hand to help the scoop melt through ice cream. That brilliant idea combined with it’s iconic design has earned it a spot in MoMA’s Permanent Design Collection. I got mine as a high school graduation present in 1999 and it still melts through ice cream more often than I’d like to admit.
    Price: $25
    Age: 13 Years
    Use it: Weekly (when I’m being good)

  2. Sony MDR-W08L Headphones

    Sony MDR-W08L Headphones

    When it comes to headphones, it’s very easy to drop a load of cash. Of the top 10 most popular headphones on Amazon, the average price is around $130. That would buy 18 pairs of Sony MDR-W08L Headphones at Amazon’s current $7.03 price tag. I have 2 pairs of these cheap, iconic headsets. One lives on my desk at work and the other I keep wrapped around the iPhone armband I use for running. The MDR-W08Ls are light, sound great, and take a beating. I’m pretty sure one of my pairs is at least 10 years and if one ever died, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another.
    Price: $7
    Age: 10+ Years
    Use it: Multiple times per week

  3. Pampered Chef Garlic Press

    Pampered Chef Garlic Press

    A lot of grown women cringe when they get invited to parties for direct-sale brands like Avon, Mary Kay Creative Memories, etc. Pampered Chef falls squarely in that category but some of their products just can’t be beat. We have a few Pampered Chef tools in our kitchen but our garlic press gets more use than all of them combined. Yes, I know everyone has a method when it comes to peeling garlic but for me, tossing a couple unpeeled cloves in this thing and mashing it into whatever we’re cooking is easy-peezy garlic-squeezy.
    Price: $21
    Age: 8 Years
    Use it: Multiple times per week

  4. Fellowes Gel Wrist and Mouse Pad

    Fellowes Gel Wrist and Mouse Pad

    I’m really not sure how long I’ve had this thing but I remember hauling it along with my mid-size tower and CRT monitor to LAN parties in high school. Yes, I was one of those kids. I love that squishy pad so much that I regularly take the thing to and from work. Maybe I should just get another one already.
    Price: $15
    Age: 13 Years
    Use it: Daily

  5. Toothpaste Squeezer

    Toothpaste Squeezer

    This isn’t really a branded or trademarked item. It’s simply a piece of plastic that houses two windshield-wiper like blades. You just slip it over the bottom of the tube and slide it up as you use up toothpaste. It’s a cheap item you can find at most drug or grocery stores. Unless of course you’re a card carrying member of the 1%…then you might want the $295 version.
    Price: $5 for 2
    Age: 8 Years
    Use it: Daily

  6. Jaccard


    No, it’s not the nickname of a certain star ship captain, it’s a meat tenderizer. Not excited? Well it’s not just any tenderizer, Jaccard is the Kleenex of bladed meat tenderizers. By maniacally mashing this spring-loaded box of 48 razor-sharp blades into a steak or roast, it reduces cooking time, increases marinade effectiveness, makes the meat cook more evenly and helps it retain moisture. You want a juicy pork chop or tender flank steak? Make it so.
    Price: $20
    Age: 7 Years
    Use it: Every couple weeks

  7. Black & Decker Mouse

    Black and Decker Mouse Sander

    Even though this is the only power tool on my list, I feel obligated to admit that this was an Amy purchase. I had sheets of sandpaper, a drywall sanding block and a belt sander in my tool collection when Amy decided we needed this thing for a small refinishing project. I didn’t think it was a necessary purchase but I’m glad I didn’t put up too much of a fight. I used the mouse for more DIY and home renovation projects than I can remember.
    Price: $32
    Age: 6 Years
    Use it: At least once a month

  8. Eureka Boss Smart-Vac

    Eureka Boss Smart-Vac

    After Amy and I got married in 2003 we decided to get rid of both of our semi-functional, hand-me-down vacuums and buy a new one that would work well and last. As a nerd and a designer, I really want to fall for Dyson’s marketing efforts. As rational adults with a limited budget though $300-$500 seemed like a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a device that sucks. After doing some research we decided on the Eureka Boss Smart-Vac and paid less than half the price of the cheapest Dyson. It’s a bag system (which I prefer after dealing with a messy bagless), works on carpet and hard floors and has a wand with various attachments. After 8½ years, it still sucks. Enough said.
    Price: $130
    Age: 8½ Years
    Use it: Weekly

  9. Drinkwell Cat Fountain

    Drinkwell Cat Fountain

    With our first baby due in March, I’m hoping that we’ll be better human parents than cat parents. Our poor Himalayan fuzzball is irreversibly spoiled. When we lived in Columbia, she started to jump on the counter while we were brushing our teeth and drinking from the sink faucet. This was cute at first but when she quit drinking from her normal water bowl and jumped on the sink whenever we got near the bathroom, we knew something had to change. We set up the Drinkwell and any time she did jump on the counter, we set her in front of “her fountain”. It only took a few days for her to get the point. As a bonus, the constant circulation and charcoal filter means I only have clean it out once a week.
    Price: $30
    Age: 6 Years
    Use it: Daily

  10. Char-Broil Electric Patio Cadie Grill

    Char-Broil Electric Patio Cadie Grill

    When I was in college, we weren’t allowed to have gas or charcoal grills on the porch at our college apartment. I remember making fun of my roommate’s electric grill but by the end of our first semester there, I was convinced that it was the best thing ever. It gets up to temperature in <5 minutes, the food tastes just like it came off a “real” grill and there’s no pots and pans to clean up – all very positive things for undergraduate life. When Amy and I got married a couple years later my parents bought one for us as a wedding present. We’ve probably used the thing an average of once a week and eight and a half years later the thing is still grilling up burgers, chicken, shish kabobs and steaks like a champ.
    Price: ~$150 (Discontinued by Char-Broil & replaced with Patio Bistro Infrared Electric Grill)
    Age: 8½ Years
    Use it: At least once a week

So what about you? Do you have something that you’ve used regularly for 5 or more years? If so, I’m guessing it’s something minor that you take for granted. It’s probably also something that’s worth recommending. Leave a comment and tell me about it.

3 comments on “Ten Old Things Project

Dushan Fernando says:

Hi I am Dushan From Sri Lanka.Thanks For Sharing your ideas with world.i really like 4 ideas that usefull to me.
1)Toothpaste Squeezer, 2)Sony MDR-W08L Headphones 3)Fellowes Gel Wrist and Mouse Pad 4)Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop

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