Do you have a box/drawer/cabinet/bin/closet that looks like the picture above? If you live in the United States and use any kind of technology, there’s a really good chance you do. While you may, on occasion, untangle one of those cords or cables and put it to good use, most of the time they will sit unused for years … mystery cords with no technological mate, gathering dust and taking up storage space. Here are a few suggestions for ridding yourself of extra tech-y tools that you don’t need or use.
First, start at the beginning. Anytime you purchase a new item with a cord, take a moment to label the cord so you know what it belongs to. Container Store, Amazon or Staples sells a number of colorful options that make it easy for you to identify the cord when it’s plugged in or being stored. Masking tape can work just as well. If you purchase small gadgets that you use infrequently (e.g. for travel or holiday decorating), store the cord with the item in a zip-top bag so they stay connected.
Next, avoid a tangled mess for those cords you do need to keep. The cheapest/easiest way to do this is to use binder clips (they come in many sizes!) to corral your cords. Wind them neatly and secure them with a clip. Empty toilet paper tubes also make cheap and easy cord management tools. There are loads of products on the market that make cord management a snap. If the underside of your desk or space behind your TV looks like Medusa, consider self-adhesive cord management tools that help keep cord clutter under control.
Now, go ahead and discard cables you can’t identify and haven’t used in at least a year. And while you’re at it, get rid of frayed cords that could present a fire hazard. If you have to pinch the cord together to get it to work, it’s time to toss it! My favorite local drop off spot is Triangle E-Cycling. They accept anything with a plug, including the plug! Not only do they recycle electronic goods, they help fund STEM education programs in the Triangle. Win-win!
Getting your cords in order is a great rainy day weekend project that you can tackle in an hour or two. You’ll thank me the next time you go to plug something in and can easily find the cord that works with the tech gear you still own!