November 26, 2012

Novel uses for a credit card

Online Black Friday sales went over $1 billion dollars this year. That's on top of the usual consumer assault on brick-and-mortar stores. And there's CyberMonday yet to be counted. In 2011, Americans put an average of $750 each of holiday shopping on credit cards. Enough already.

For years, Adbusters have campaigned for reigning in consumerism. Their spoof ads are imaginative, memorable, and totally outside the box. For instance, their ads against Absolut Vodka are beautiful and glamorous, while offering a stark reminder of the health risks of alcohol.

Every November, Adbusters fire up their campaign to re-brand the Friday after Thanksgiving as Buy Nothing Day, calling for such subversive citizen actions as hosting a Credit Card Cut-up event at your local mall, or peacefully disrupting shopping at big box stores by forming a conga line of shopping carts with a dozen friends and walking it aimlessly among the aisles.

My favourite Buy Nothing Day poster shows a pair of hands happily buttering a slice of bread - using a credit card. This is inspiration! We started using credit cards and other plastic wallet cards for lots of things that they weren't intended for.

There's nothing like a credit card for scraping bits of dried-up bread dough from your table, after you and your children have spent a happy half-morning kneading bread on it. Also great for scraping cooked-on food from the bottom of the pot. A height-tailored stack of credit cards under a leg is indispensible for steadying a wobbly table. And credit card (and gift card) plastic is marvellous raw material for countless projects. For instance, a carefully custom-cut piece of gift card now covers the memory card slot of our 10-year old camera, held in place by duct tape (a girl's best friend).

But my favourite unconventional use of a credit card is - of course - for the car. On those freezy mornings when you find your windshield covered with a layer of ice flowers, take a minute to admire their ephemeral beauty. Then offer a silent apology, and take out your credit card. The plastic edge is perfectly straight, and has the perfect stiffness for scraping frost off a slightly curved glass surface without scratching.

I still have my 15-year old official plastic scraper, but use mostly the snow broom end on the back. The scraper end is hopelessly nicked and quite useless now except for hacking at the most stubborn ice. But why buy a new one? I've got my credit card.



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