Unsubscribe from staples

There's a subscription you pay. It perniciously pulls at threads, ekes away seconds, and scrapes at precious things. It takes it's toll — slowly with the drip drip of pennies. Then suddenly, with a sharp jab under your thumbnail — you pay with blood.

Before Amazon Prime, before Netflix, there was staples — the sharp steel teeth we use to bind documents together. We accept staples are the cost of keeping order, but are they worth the chaos they bring?

Reasons staples are bad

There is now a viable alternative that allows you to unbind yourself from staples. The staple-less stapler.

This article effectively serves as an advert for staple-less staplers for I love them, and they embody everything Practical Betterments stands for.

Reasons to bind paper and the limits of staple-less staplers

Staple-less staplers are limited by the number of pieces they can bind together. Typically between 5 and 10. So long as you don't need to create large booklets of printed paper, a staple-less stapler will do the job.

Reasons to use a staple-less stapler

Reasons to use something else

The two types of staple-less staplers

There are two types of staple-less staplers — both kinds perform the binding with a single squeeze of the hand.

Both versions I own are made by the Japanese company Kokuyo — and they both resemble whales.

Staple-less staplers that make a hole

These staple-less staplers punch a hole in the paper, then fold and feed the paper through the hole.

These staple-less staplers can bind up to 10 sheets of paper.

Staple-less staplers that crimp the paper

These staple-less staplers bind papers by crimping them together. They can only bind up to 5 sheets at a time. Instead of making a hole, this one forms a satisfying set of ridges. This method has the advantage of being easily undoable — simple pressing the ridges flat allows you to easily unbind the paper.

How much does a staple weigh?

One of the worst things about staples is the needless weight they require you carry round.

In the early stages of planning this article I happened across an unopened box of 5000 staples.

So I took them home and weighed them. I took them out of their box, they got everywhere — I hate staples — and put them on the scales. They weighed 146.8g.

So 146.8 / 5000 = 0.02936g.

One staple weighs around 0.029g.

How much does a staple cost?

After a quick google the cheapest staples I found was a pack of 5000 staples that costs $2.18.

Divide $2.18 by 5000 and you get $0.000436.

How many staples would you need to use for a staple-less stapler to pay for itself?

Well, given that each staple costs $0.000436 and the recommended and original staple-less stapler costs $12 that gets you to about 27523 staples or about 5 packs of 5000.

Not bad, but also beside the point. The real cost of staples comes in the form of bandages, vet bills, and device repairs.

This simple cost benefit analysis also fails to take into account the value of the staples you currently own.

How much money can you get by taking a pack of staples to a scrap yard

Having found a pack of staples — taken it home, and weighed it, I obviously wanted to get rid of them.

But it occurred to me, if I was going to recommend people replace their staples with a staple-less stapler, I couldn't expect them just to throw away all their already purchased staples. To many that would be an unacceptable sunken cost.

So, I took my pack of staples to a local scrap metal yard and asked what they would be worth as scrap.

They we're very polite and accommodating, if a little puzzled.

Unfortunately the staples didn't weigh enough to register on their scales — which are usually used to weigh entire truck loads of any-old-iron.

A disappointing turnout — to get any payout on a pack of staples you need to include it as part of a larger load.

Scrap metal prices fluctuate a lot and differ from scrap yard to scrap yard. The scrap yard I visited was taking mixed metal scrap for £155 ($194) per 1000kg. That means a pack of 5000 staples would pay out £0.02.

So — keep that in mind before you buy.