Simple Saturday ~ The great cable round-up

I am sure you all know what it is like. You buy one electronic gadget and then it dies or becomes out of date. A new one takes it’s place but all those cables look so useful and you never know, you might need them some day. Before you know it there is more than one drawer or box in your home that looks like a snake pit. Of couse these snakes (cables) are all in hibernation just waiting for the right time to imerge into life.

Photo credit Offbeat Earth

Well, guess what? 99% of the time you will never use them again. My husband decided to take the chance that this is right and did the big cable round up in our house. and here is the result.

The round up in progress

The cables that got the chop and were sent to the thrift store.

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Wow, Colleen. How inspiring. Now I want to go looking for cables to get rid of!

    Great job and what a wonderful husband! I will be glad when my family joins me on this decluttering mission. Today, an old bookcase and desk left my house, along with a box of stuff I had been saving for a friend. My oldest son also ran a huge trunk load of stuff over to Goodwill for me. I feel lighter than before, but I know I have a lot of work to do still. Thank you for being such a motivator!


    • Hi Chelle,
      I must say it is rather lovely that my family are so on board with this. I was photographing some records I am decluttering when my son came out with a bunch of t-shirts that he not longer wears or never did (Ones people have given him) for me to add to the decluttered pile.

      At least your son is helping with the practical side of decluttering by doing trips to the thrift store for you.

  2. Colleen, that picture looks like where I used to live in California–nearby was the rattlesnake capital of the world. The cables and cords look familiar too. I did this AGAIN not long ago and what a mess we had. I now need to go out in the shed and look for all of the bits and pieces left from putting together items we no longer even have. No matter how hard you try things just seem to pile up.

    • Hi Deb J,
      letting thing pile up isn’t so bad because it sometimes pays to give things a chance to become useful again (being too “trigger happy” can be costly). That is why I like my slow declutter approach because it gives you time to be sure. That being said, it is best to keep an eye on things though and be realistic about when something just isn’t being used and get it out of there.

      • Yes, it does pay to take it slow in case something becomes useful again. In my case, we have a workbench in the shed with a many drawered cabinet on top of it. This tends to accumulate anything we find that we can’t figure out what it belongs to. We also have a box for bigger things. Every once in a while I will go rummage through it all and see what can be discarded. I did one thing that I never thought I would do. I bought two containers for AA & AAA batteries. I filled them with the appropriate sizes and then put them back in the drawer where we keep them. It’s so much nicer because they don’t roll around in there and take up less room.

    • Ugh, snake capital? Ehhhkkkeess! Careful out in the shed!!! Make sure it really is a ‘cable’ and not a ‘snake’!

      So true the resemblance of snakes/cables. We’ve a box of ‘snakes’ (cables) in the keller (basement). We’re hanging onto them because they are USA and we live in Germany (temporarily). Why we even brought them over I”ll truly never figure out. I do want to decrease their abundance, but I’m afraid of getting rid of something that we might need when we move back to USA??!!! Any advice? If we end up having to go ‘buy’ something (that we had and I decluttered) back in USA, my husband will not be real happy w/ me….

      • Hi Annabelle,
        how long have you been out of the USA and how many things will be redundant that belong to those cables when you get back?

  3. Eek! I hate snakes. I’m throwing out all my extra cables now!

    • Hi Marie,
      now that wasn’t the aim of the snake photo but whatever inspiration it takes to get people decluttering is good as far as I am concerning. Happy snake charming!

  4. I’ve been organizing all the cables and electronic ephemera into bags or ties as we’ve been decluttering. Now we have two large boxes of electronics. I can’t judge their utility, so each person in the house (3 teenagers and a 29-year-old besides me) has been instructed to go through the boxes and get rid of anything they specifically know we’ll never need again. The items will be taken to Best Buy for recycling (search for best buy recycling to see a list of items they accept for free) and to our local landfill, which collects electronics items once a month (for a minimal cost). I was happy to work on this project because during the process, I found my extra teenager’s Wii, so I’m able to watch Netflix in two rooms now, which motivates me to clean.

    • Hi Jude,
      it sure sounds like you know how to rally the troops in the fight against clutter. Good for you!

      Your comment inspired me to check out the latest recycling services at Best Buys and I was suitably impressed with the e-cycle initiatives. This lead me to investigate if similar stores in Australia offered the same kind of service and care for the environment. Two of the bigger electronic retails stores, The Good Guys & Harvey Norman seem to offer no such services or at least nothing was obvious on theirs web sites. Shame, shame on them.

      • I recently did the cable box, and got rid of HEAPS.

        Colleen – I freecycled all the ‘chargers’ (the big transformer bricks etc). It was a task to do a spreadsheet with all the specs of everything I had (cables included). I then ‘e-cycled’ through my local council in NSW. They have six monthly cleanups (where you go to a park and drop off), but I took them into the offices. It worked 2-3 times, then recently I went with a dead camera, and they wouldn’t take it. So then and there I wrote a letter. I got an incoherent letter (ie they didn’t really read what I said) and told me I could order a ‘pick up’. This didn’t really work – I mean, a truck isn’t going to see the 2-3 batteries and a camera and think, that’s what we need to pick up! It’s obviously designed for TVs etc. Anyhow, it worked at the start. And I could have just waited for the next e-waste day.

        • Hi Snosie,
          I sincerely hope that the revenue for the cardon tax, they keep whining about here in Australia, gets use to implement ways to recycle all these kinds of products. EBay now offers free 99c starting price auctions which I think would be great to try to sell these items to people who can use them. I know it is hardly worth the effort to go out and mail them if they don’t fetch much over the starting price but then there is also the off-chance that the occasional item will fetch a much larger price which will make up for the others. At least you would know that the items that sell will be getting 100% used and not just end up in landfill.

    • I like how you didn’t cart anything off to the thrift store; trust me on this one. Just cause we don’t need it, doesn’t mean the thrift store does, either. Those cables become snakes at the thrift stores, unless there is a VERY willing person/volunteer to ORGANIZE, RUBBER BAND AND MAKE LOOK “PRETTY” (well, at least not all long and snake like), AND LABEL, etc. Have you seen the ‘for sale cable department’ (pile) at your local thrift store? I wound not want to spend a MINUTE having to go thru that snake pile.

      • My comment above was commenting on Jude’s comment (that they didn’t just give away extra unknown cables to thrift store)…

      • Funny you should say that because at my first day at the thrift store a lady wanted to know where we kept our cables because she need one for something. I don’t know if she bought one I wasn’t working the till but one for one is a good average when it comes to lookers.

  5. Good metaphor for the cables–like snakes, they’ll either strangle you or bite you.
    Shall I show this post to the other person living in my house? 🙂

  6. Seriously, our ‘snake’ pile (eeekkksss!) and the better-half’s ‘tool’ pile (more like little dinosaurs breeding in a certain shelf/closet) are horrendous.

    HELP! Ok, one day, when other-half (he) is out of house (work) I’ll take everything out of said shelf/closet. I’ll line it all up, sort it as appropriate (duplicates together). Then when he returns from work, I’ll tell him to pick ONE from each pile. The rest will be donated or given away as appropriate. I’ll let you all know if this is effective, or if we are still married (joking on that one!!!, but it makes for a cute comment!). 🙂

    • hi Annabelle,
      one thing that always helps when it comes to decluttering other peoples stuff is to make it easier for them to choose from the mess. So good for you for trying this gentle approach to getting cooperation. I hope it works.

  7. Hi Colleen – sorry I am commenting on something so far back, but I have cables on my “To-Do” list but put further down the list, “just in case” – things are emerging as we de-clutter, but in all fairness, we know most cables will never be re-united or identified.

    My daughter spent half an hour bagging them into seperate zip lock bags in their box so we can scan thru the box quickly. We decided to give them a date for expulsion, (which stands at 6 months from now) as we found a camcorder recently, which has gone into our “Project Box – Family Movies and Video Cassettes” box and my husband realised there were at least another one or two camcorders lurking in the house somewhere, which is why we decided to hang onto cables for another 6 months, just in case.

    We want to do the boxes of video cassettes and camcorders as its own major project because its going to involve a lot of sitting and speed viewing. What is simply a tv programme or movie recorded will naturally get binned, but we want to send the cassettes with family stuff on it to be digitised. We have two big boxes of video cassettes – and a smaller box of camcorder cassettes.

    Have you done any back issues covering video cassettes? If so can you point me to the month and year?

    And do the new generation realise how lucky they are to be setting up home in the digital era, where digital picture frames, external hardrives, digital music, digital DVD’s, memory cards and flash drives are used?

    • Hi Moni,
      here is a comment strand about this subject you may or may not find in useful.

      Here is a comment with information on how to recycle the ones you don’t want.

      I couldn’t find a lot else that might be useful to you. Best to just google the subject. Also ask around of friends and acquaintances as to what businesses/companies have a reputation for doing a good job of digitising. My husband has sent old photo negative and colour slides to be digitised before but I can’t remember the company he used. If I remember to ask him tonight I will add it to this comment.

  8. Hi Colleen – thanks for those articles – we did the same with our negatives, its wonderful having them digitised.

    I have found a firm across the city who converts VHS to DVD – (I live in New Zealand) – however, he asked me to please weed out our VHS’s first – he’s had people bring up a box full of VHS cassettes and then get back converted to DVD, and only one or two are family movies and the rest are recordings off tv…..and as it isn’t cheap, they get a little bit upset.

    I will keep you updated with the project. Am bound to learn some do’s and don’t’s along the way.