Remember that person at work who bought an Easy Button and pressed it every time you needed a little help? After a semi-authoritative smack, the grainy, robotic voice declared “That Was Easy” and then you walked away having been dismissed by a hunk of cheap plastic. In the commercial, comedian Brian Posehn said “there’s no such thing!” as an Easy Button when his fake coworker even suggested such a thing. He was wrong, of course. There was and it can still be found in garbage heaps and Staples stores across America. Hell, you can even buy it on Amazon to exemplify how easy it is to buy the thing.
Staples, Inc. has reported that they have sold over 2 million Easy Buttons with no proof at all that anything has been made easier because of it. It was marketed as a cute little panacea and conversation piece, but really its sole purpose was a hugely successful marketing campaign and profit machine for Staples and its shareholders.
To me, the Easy Button is synonymous with waste. At a cost of $6.99 each (batteries included), it has absolutely no real practical application and, therefore, becomes a novelty that quickly wears off eventually finding its way in the dumpster side by side with troll pencil toppers and worn out Trapper Keepers, although these were useful. Weighing in 6.4 ounces per unit, that means up to 800,000 pounds of garbage—not to mention those batteries—has been created since it was introduced in 2005. To compare that in hippie terms, that’s about 267 Toyota Priuses or 80, 125-square foot tiny homes. For the wealthier among us, that equates to about 6 Boeing 757s.
That doesn’t seem like a lot of waste considering how much we toss into the circular file as a nation (220 million tons per year), but it’s significant in that it is symptomatic of how we spend our money and where, ultimately, that goes. The average American produces over 4 pounds of garbage per day, while the global average is 2.6, so 6 little ounces can make a difference on that day that you finally realize you threw away $7 for false assurances from a round red button.
Look around your home and your office. How many “Easy Buttons” do you have? No doubt there are plenty of things lying around that you bought at one time because you fantasized about how you would use it every day and now you just found it in the back of the closet, dusty and forgotten. There may be that popcorn popper or that Elvis coffee mug somewhere in a box not having seen the light of day since Tiffany was popular.
Before you spend a single dime on anything that seems trendy or cute, stop and think about it first. Ask yourself, “Is this an Easy Button?” If you answer “yes”, then you’ve also realized that you would not be making your life any better if you shelled out the few dollars for that useless thing.
You don’t need that know-all red button anyway. The Elvis mug, maybe.