We know that the developed world runs on consumerism. Companies employ people by providing a product or service. They make themselves relevant by continuing to update or improve that product or service to sell more. They employ people and pay these people wages, and these people again in turn buy more “stuff” and keep the cycle going. This system works, though it produces a class system and concentrates wealth, which are arguably not the healthiest things for the population as a whole. The often unseen side of this is that old, outdated products eventually have little demand and end up in the trash, polluting our environment. Dumps are purposefully created in places where we don’t have to look at all the stuff we threw away.
Regardless of the strength of this kind of economy, sometimes companies go too far, moving beyond improved products or services to creating needs that should never have been. When companies push these kinds of products, they start to lose my respect. Here are some of the most useless ones:
Touchless hand soap dispenser – Sold as a solution to prevent touching “dirty” soap pumps. Right, because the most important thing to avoid *right before* washing my hands is touching something marginally dirty. The touchless faucet is a much more useful invention from that perspective.
Pod-style coffee makers – because one cup coffee makers didn’t already exist. Oh, they did? But I had to measure the coffee out myself and add a coffee filter, didn’t I? That’s it. I’m paying more for something that creates more plastic waste, and more waste with every cup. Ordinary coffee makers are so 1999.
3D TVs – When 3D TVs first came out, people rushed to stores to pick them up first. They shared them when their friends came to visit, and made dates to watch 3D movies. How many people actually use this feature on a regular basis? The glasses are bulky and hard to wear over other glasses, and almost nothing actually comes out in 3D anyway.
The “iTalkToYou” 3, 3G, 3S, 4G, 4S, 5C, 5S, etc… – Everyone wants the newest one, don’t they? Doesn’t matter if the one you have works like new and you loved it when you got it six months ago, this one has better speakers.
New types of jacks, especially proprietary (power, headphone, etc.) – Oh. Have I put a certain beloved, fruit-logo’ed company on this list twice now? Marginally changing some key aspect of the product is a great way to make thousands of complementary products obsolete and sell more stuff, without actually making the product function any differently.
Pre-peeled and prepared fruit (oranges, bananas, pomegranate seeds, apples, etc.) – Taking something out of its natural packaging to put it into “easier-to-unwrap” packaging that ends up in a landfill instead of the compost? That’s just an insult to our intelligence.
Bottled water – Now, I do sometimes purchase bottled water for very specific reasons (using distilled water to fill a neti pot when travelling, for example), but in most cases, why buy for 30 cents to 5 dollars or more what you can get from the tap for 3 cents or less? The only one winning on this is the bottling company. Often they take water directly from reservoirs or city supplies for less money than the area’s citizens pay, do nothing to it, and then sell it for enormous profit, in packaging that harms the environment and is building up in landfills at an incredible rate.
Free promotional calendars – How many promotional calendars do you get in a year? If you’re us, you get at last three, and have room for exactly one of them. Problem is, then we’d have to stare at ads for an entire year. They’re as useless as promotional magnets.
Mops with disposable pads and solution – Aside from the non-biodegradable waste and chemical issue, companies try to create somewhat unique shapes and attachment designs just so that you’ll have to purchase only their refills. There are ways to circumvent this, but why not buy a spray bottle and a mop with a washable pad? You can reuse the pad as many times as you like with no waste or additional cost, the mop is a lot sturdier, and you can use whatever cleaning solution you desire.
Fabric Refresher Sprays – I’m biased because of my fragrance allergy, but the entire basis of this product is messed up. You want to buy a spray to make something smell better without it actually getting any cleaner? You’re okay with it being so filthy that it stinks, but the moment it smells you have a problem. Clean the damn thing!