There are great inventions that changed the world: things like paper, refrigeration, the internal combustion engine, the internet - even the shipping container. There's great stuff that has saved lives and improved the world, like vaccines, seat belts, genetically modified food and the internet.
But what about the countless small innovations that have made daily life better? The things that you don't even notice, unless you're old enough to remember a time without them. Every time I use a ziplock bag, spray detangler on my kids' hair or pop open a milk carton, I think of what a marvel these things are, and how happy and proud I hope are the people who invented them. I hope, regardless of any money or kudos their innovations got them, that these people go home every night from their workplaces, content and satisfied, knowing their work has made life a little bit better.
I'm thinking of things like...
Non-Iron clothes. Thanks to permanent pant creases and drip-dry wrinkle-free technology, the only time I iron these days is when my daughter does a Hama bead project.
Of course, along with non-crushable fabrics and everyone's time-poor lives has come an increased tolerance for crushed fabrics, so we do wear clothes like school dresses and cotton shirts that really SHOULD be ironed but aren't. And so does everyone else.
Blu-tack. Blue-tack was around when I was a kid, so it's not recent. But it's still great.
|Dauvlt Alexander/Flickr CC|
Car registration stickers (finally, as of this year, no longer required here) have been easy-peel for some years, but when I was a kid they required a bucket of soapy water and a razor blade to take off, and were a fun way for your dad to pass the time on a Saturday.
If I were writing this list ten years ago, I might have added sticker postage stamps. But actually I really invented those myself, because back when I used postage stamps and used to have to lick the backs of them, I used to say every time "Ugh! Why can't they make these stickers?!"
Pull-apart packaging. Cereal bags, coffee packs, band-aid envelopes - a world of ease and pleasure in opening things that used to be a complete pain to open. And milk cartons actually open the way they're supposed to now. Remember having to take a knife to them half the time in ye olden days?
Of course, there are other packaging types that are still in their "to be improved" stages
|Every goddamned time|
But back to the good stuff:
Hair detangling spray and equipment. These sprays (any brand) are amazing, and these brushes are MAGIC.
The multi-coloured pencil. What a marvel! Checkered paint can only be around the corner!
The fuel cap tether, attaching the petrol cap to the car these days. Such a little thing. Such genius.
Travel packs of wipes. Because little kids are sticky all the time, and carrying around a damp flannel in a plastic bag was not as handy.
This drain on the edges of swimming pools, that lets pools be filled to the very top. I'm pretty sure that this is recent. I remember a time when pools filled level with the ground was the stuff of top-level decadent fantasy. Now it's every pool everywhere, and it's so good.
And: mini-dodgems just for kids
What did I miss?
What innovations have improved your daily life?