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Thing-a-Day – January 11 – hidden magnets (saving them from the trash)

January 14, 2015

Day 11 of the Thing-a-Day Challenge

Materials: magnets buried in packaging and other things you might be throwing away

Now that I am back on heightened alert re reusable objects, I am gathering “SAVE THE EARTH!” topics to blog about.  This one will work for both this blog in general and the Thing-a-Day Challenge.

Packaging is often fancier than the object contained therein.  My son had to buy a protective cover for a new phone, and the cardboard box that the simple plastic cover came it is a case in point.

phonebox1It seemed to just be cardboard, but it had a special magnetic closure.  Neat!  And the magnet was so strong – impressive!  But not so great…since that (now) totally useless magnetic closure was cool only for that one time he opened the container and took out the phone case.  Now he was finished with the packaging and had heard that satisfying “click” when he re-closed the box, he was expected to just throw it out, or recycle it, since it is cardboard.  But it is not just cardboard, since it has a magnet in it…. And I have seen more and more things in fancy packaging recently, with magnets hidden in the closures – a total waste of valuable materials…if you throw them away.


Magnets are made from a variety of materials, none of them simply recyclable: iron, nickel, cobalt, and some alloys of rare earth metals. And they are drawn to metals, such as steel or other magnets, so this cardboard box had at least two pieces of metal hidden in it somewhere.

phonebox4The two magnets were hidden, taped way inside the box’s outer edge.  And the steel(?) piece that they attached to was folded and taped inside the closing flap.

So the simple thing I made today was two usable magnets.  I saved something from the trash by tearing it out of the box and putting it on my refrigerator.  It might make a good way to attach a steel sculpture to a metal backing some day.  It also might just be a useful way to attach a clipped cartoon to my refrigerator.


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