False Economies? 12 Mass-Produced Items We Can’t Live Without—But Should We?

Some mass-produced items are cheap, and it shows. Others hold up and have been successfully used in manufacturing for years, regardless of the production cost. An online user asked for examples of items that fit these criteria. Here is how the forum responded.

1. Zippers

Woman zipping jacket
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The zipper was invented in the 1800s. They’re now used nearly every day in 1000s of designs. One stated, “It’s a very cheap mechanism that secures objects in a very neat fashion. No wonder it’s used in most objects that need to be opened and closed, such as luggage and jackets.”

2. Cardboard Boxes

Couples playing around Cardboard Boxes.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

“The humble corrugated cardboard box,” another puts succinctly. They continue, “It’s lightweight, strong, splash resistant, somewhat padded, doesn’t break down in heat/cold, scratch resistant, recyclable, biodegradable, and able to be assembled cheaply into any size.” This design has worked as designed and been sold affordably for decades.

3. Toilets

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Quite a few forum members listed this one, so we had to include it. One mentioned, “I’ve been a plumber 20 years, and very little has changed, or needed to. Minimal upkeep, cheap and easy repair, very long life.” Well said! I’m grateful for modern plumbing, too.

4. Ballpoint Pens

Kid using Ballpoint Pen
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Ballpoint pens, including Bic pens, were on the list for obvious reasons. Can you imagine if you still had to write everything with a fountain pen? Though fountain pens and earlier writing tools can still be used to create beautiful writing, they’re impractical.

5. Soda/Beer Cans

Beer Cans
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Regardless of what you drink, aluminum cans are one mass-produced invention that most of us benefit from regularly. One commenter said, “The design has existed for decades with few changes. It’s a way of using a relatively small amount of cheap metal to withstand the pressure of carbonated beverages with a reliable opening mechanism.”

6. Batteries

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

If you didn’t do experiments with batteries in school, you might not be aware of just how impressive the inner workings are. Someone stated, “Batteries are marvels of engineering packed tightly into a minuscule canister. Even AA batteries are incredibly sophisticated internally.”

7. Lighters

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

“The lighter. Spontaneously ignite fire wherever you want,” said one user, and I couldn’t agree more. Bic lighters were specifically mentioned multiple times, with commenters stating that they’re durable, cheap, and last for a long time.

Another mentioned their hand-me-down Zippo lighter that’s been through a lot, including “being underwater and then under sludge for about two weeks straight thanks to Hurricane Agnes in 1972.”

8. Metal Pencil Sharpeners

Metal Pencil Sharpeners
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

In more recent years, more expensive and modern solutions have been invented, like electric sharpeners. However, the metal pencil sharpener sold in most art stores is an excellent choice for your sharpening needs. Whether you’re an artist or use pencils in your daily life, a metal pencil sharpener will last you for ages and keep your pencils sharp.

9. Zip Ties

Double cuff zip tie plastic handcuffs hanging from a police belt
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

It wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind, but zip ties were the top answer for many users. “Such a simple piece of plastic but so versatile,” one person mentioned. Multiple other users proved that versatility, with uses ranging from holding a car together after an accident to installing fencing.

10. Screws

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

“Can you imagine what would happen if all the screws suddenly disappeared from [the] world? Everything would fall apart.” I couldn’t agree more with this person’s take on a thing we often take for granted. Although they may be a small, simple part, screws are used in many ways we don’t even think about.

11. Road Reflectors

Road Reflectors
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Allegedly, road reflectors were created after an inventor drove home from the pub. A user explained, “His headlights reflected off a cat’s eyes, causing him to correct his course and stay on the road.”

12. Diapers

Mother changing diaper on her baby on table over blue background. They look at each other, smile and laugh.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Disposable diapers stag got quite the shout-out on this thread. One put it better than I could have, “Imagine being told as an engineer you need to design a device to contain the vilest, grossest materials known to man. Both liquids and goopy solids.

This device must have the best seals to guard against a constantly moving and wiggling life form of varying sizes. Said life form has notoriously delicate skin, so the materials you can use are drastically limited. It must be able to be removed and installed in seconds by amateurs running on approximately 14 minutes of sleep… and it has to cost about 30 cents a unit.”

Lost in Southern Translation: 18 Baffling Phrases from the South That’ll Leave Y’all Reaching for a Dictionary

Image credit: Depositphotos.
  The Southern United States has a rich linguistic tradition that can often be a puzzle to those unfamiliar with the region’s unique vernacular. It’s not just the charming accent, but also the colorful phrases and expressions that add a dash of spice to the language. Let’s decode 18 such Southern phrases.

Lost in Southern Translation: 18 Baffling Phrases from the South That’ll Leave Y’all Reaching for a Dictionary


The Unpopular Yet Lucrative: 13 High-Paying Jobs Few Choose to Pursue

Image Credit: Shutterstock.
Despite their attractive salaries, there are specific high-paying jobs that need help to attract candidates due to various reasons. These unique professions offer financial rewards but often require more individuals to undertake the associated challenges. Let’s explore 14 such occupations that require specialized skills or involve demanding conditions but come with significant monetary compensation. The Unpopular Yet Lucrative: 13 High-Paying Jobs Few Choose to Pursue

Unmasking the Unpleasant: 12 Telltale Signs You Might Just Be a ‘Terrible Person’

Image Credit: Shutterstock.
You can tell if someone is a good person based on their words and actions. You can also use the same standard to determine if someone isn’t a good person. But what should you be looking for? An online community asked its members to describe the characteristics of someone who isn’t a good person, and the results were eye-opening Unmasking the Unpleasant: 12 Telltale Signs You Might Just Be a ‘Terrible Person’
Daisy Frisch
+ posts