As a cat lover, I’m fond of the smartphone game called Neko Atsume, where you get various cats to visit you and leave behind some treasures. The treasure that one cat leaves is “a small toy key” — but “no one knows where it goes to.”
Seeing this reminded me of all the keys so many people have stashed away — and they, too, have no idea what many of the keys were ever intended to unlock. I just looked at my own key collection and noticed I have a few of these, also. I carry a limited number of keys with me daily: house key, car key fob, my neighbor’s house key, and the key to my UPS Store mailbox. In my box of other keys should be one for my brother’s house, my safe deposit box, my two lockboxes, and the door to The UPS Store. And there should be a couple spare house keys for my own home.
But I don’t know which key is my brother’s and which goes to The UPS Store — and I have three extra keys that are total mysteries. Furthermore, I’m almost positive that one of the keys in the box is the key to a good friend’s old house, before she moved out of the area. So my to-do list for October includes identifying the useful keys, using colored key caps (with an associated list) so I know which is which, and tossing the mystery keys. In some places such keys can be recycled as scrap metal, which is better than sending them to landfill if you have that option.
And in the future, I’ll make life easier on myself by immediately tossing any keys I don’t need — for example, my current copy of my brother’s house key if he ever changes the locks — and labeling any new ones.
A similar problem happens with cables and cords, where almost everyone I know has a box or a drawer (or maybe multiple boxes and drawers) filled with unidentified items. If all the electronic equipment you have is working fine with the cords you already have in place — and you have found the cords to any electronics you plan to sell, donate, or give away — you may be able to let all those other cords go. In some cases you may want spare cords: for travel, for replacing ones the cat chews through, etc. But many people also have a bunch of cords that go to electronics they haven’t owned in years. Along with the cords you may also have old remotes and charging devices.
Those whose hobbies involve tinkering with computers and electronics may want to keep an array of cords and cables for purposes as yet unknown. But those of us who just want to use our devices don’t need the cords to old computers, monitors, printers, etc. These cords qualify as e-waste, and you can usually find a place to recycle them without too much trouble. For example, in the U.S., they can be dropped off at Best Buy stores, in the recycling kiosks that are just inside the front doors.