One Woman’s Trash Is Another Woman’s …

clutterOur church had a White Elephant sale this past weekend. My daughter volunteered at the sale and ended up being the person who sold large paper bags for $5 to prospective shoppers. Armed with their paper bags, the bargain hunters were allowed  to fill the bags up to the brim with as much stuff as they wanted. Caitlin encouraged me to take advantage of the great deal and stock up.

No offense, fellow parishioners, but the LAST thing I want in my house is your old stuff. I have nothing against used items – witness the used cars, DVD’s, clothing, games, etc. in and around our house. However, there was absolutely nothing I needed (or even wanted) to buy on that Sunday morning.

In fact, I need less stuff, not more, in my life. That’s one of the reasons I was so intrigued by the blog of a friend of a friend. This wise woman decided to get rid of one item per day for an entire year (in 2006, to be exact). The interesting and entertaining account of her shedding 365 items can be found at A Year of Trash.

Back here in 2010, my “trashy thoughts” were reignited when Wise Women Laurie passed along a blurb from a personal organizer outlining ways to declutter. Below is the target list of things that can be tossed out, recycled, or given away.

I’ve highlighted in green the things I know should be exiled from my home. What’s in your home/office/car that just needs to GO?!?!?

Let go of:
All spice and most cooking supplies that are over a year old
T-shirts or ball caps that haven’t been worn in six months
Keys that you haven’t used for a year and don’t know what they unlock
Sheets, towels, and throw rugs with rips or stains or no longer fit current beds. (Hint: Your local animal shelter may be able to use them.)
Old or worn shoes that you do not wear
Half the books you have already read and half the books you have had for a year without reading
Jewelry and clothing that need to be mended
Any clothes you haven’t worn in a year or that do not fit
Kitchen utensils and serving pieces that you would be embarrassed to use if you were having the boss to dinner
Receipts, bills, and statements that are more than 16 months old
Your toothbrush after three months, and your bed pillows every year
Computer files and email
Old electronics like phones, computers, and monitors that can be recycled; anything electric that you don’t use.
Any magazine more than 2 months old; newspapers more than a week old
Any more than 2 plastic garden pots in each size, or no more than a shopping bag full of plastic grocery bags
All medicines and vitamins that are past their expiration dates, or that you have not taken for a month
Cosmetic and grooming products that are less than half full, or that you haven’t used in 2 months
While you are at it, weed out obligations; dump energy-sucking or stress-contagious friends and think seriously about banning that junk food. Once you get started, isn’t this simplification just so satisfying?


  • Sharon Says:
    6-10-2010 20:47:44

    Elaine, I’m with you. I don’t “do” anybody else’s sale of anything. I try to buy only what I need/will use when I need it. I stay in clean-out mode these days. That list is thorough, and anybody who could stick to that would never again have to deal with clutter.

  • Anne Says:
    6-10-2010 22:22:00

    throw out pillow once a year….really?

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