12 (Okay 13) More Items You Probably Own Too Many Of

published Jan 7, 2014
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(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

There’s something about the new year that puts me into declutter mode. So, it’s not surprising that Thursday morning, the New Year’s Eve hangover now thankfully a memory, there I was, donation box in hand, tossing, tossing, tossing, starting with my favorite gotta-goes, the multiple multiples. I am guilty of owning too many of a lot of things but along with these repeat offenders, the following top my list:

Mugs: I love a mug — of soup in the afternoon, of coffee in bed in the morning —but I can only drink out of so many at once. Since I’m not planning to start a mug collection anytime soon, I’ve weeded down my dozens to three or four favorites.

Reusable shopping bags: Every event seems to come with a new tote bag! At this point I probably have enough bags to cover everyone at Trader Joe’s on a busy Saturday morning. Time to purge: three for the car should cover a really big grocery haul, one for the house, and a Baggu for unexpected errands folded up inside my purse are adequate for my life.

Spices and condiments: When was the last time I used dried dill? Or garlic powder for that matter? If I can’t remember the last time I used it, chances are that it will add little more to my food than the flavor of dust. Same goes for jellies, jams, mustard, chutneys, ketchup and mayo.

Crafting supplies: Oh, the projects I’ve planned: the balls of yarns waiting to be knit into a sweater, the sequins that want sewing onto a dress, the glue guns and paper folders and calligraphy pens and tempera paints. My inner Martha is protesting but this time I’m going to have to talk some sense into her; if I haven’t found the time to do that project in two years, it’s probably not happening any time soon. Better donated to a school or a camp where they might actually get used for something aside from gathering dust.

Rags: Green girl that I am, I’ve nixed the paper towels in favor of rags. I’ve also learned that not everything can and should make a good rag (goodbye part-poly sweats that only mush stuff around and don’t absorb. And to you, old underwear.) Better to donate the ratty t-shirts to H&M and load up on a pack or two of white bar mop cloths from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Wrapping paper: I’ve wrapped and ribboned my way through the holiday season. While that certainly doesn’t mark the end of my gift giving for the year, the few scraps that are left are unlikely to cover even the tiniest of presents. I’ll consolidate what usable. If I need something to cover my gifts in a pinch, I’m sure I can find something around the house

Containers: Now that I’m purging, I’m finding I need fewer boxes to corral stuff. There is something that feels especially good about donating the box that used to hold that stuff that you’re donating.

Underwear: Sure you need a few pair for when Aunt Flo comes to visit but what about those other pairs? Time to purge the ones that you wouldn’t want anyone to see you in.

Socks: As for underwear, so with socks. If they’re threadbare, have holes at the toes, no longer stay up or have lost their mate, toss ’em. Use them for projects if you must — cut old socks down for sock buns, wrist warmers or puppets for the kids, use them to hold particularly fragile Christmas ornaments or fill a lone sock with uncooked rice and warm it up in the microwave to make an instant heating pad — but get them out of your sock drawer.

T-Shirts: I’ve got almost as many t-shirts as tote bags. Except for a few that are cute and that fit well, the rest are going out.

Pens: Growing up my parents had a nightstand where the telephone lived which had a whole drawerful of pens, none of which worked. But, for some reason (probably laziness and that there was no garbage can nearby), none of them ever got thrown out; they just got tossed back into the drawer. Which may be why I’m so vigilant about throwing out any pen that’s starting to lose ink. Same goes for old pencils with petrified erasers. The point of writing implements is that they’re supposed to write, right?

Screws: Since I’m not planning to build a house anytime soon, I probably don’t need an entire coffee can of screws and nails. I’m better off going to the hardware store for the correct size and some advice when I’m on the verge of tackling my next DIY. And, while I’m at it, I’ll clean out the toolbox. Fuses for a fusebox that’s been replaced by switches, dull razors, dried up glue, bent picture hangers — all of these can also go.

Magazines: Too many subscriptions plus no time equals piles of unread magazines (New Yorker, I’m looking at you). Until I’m able to transfer every subscription to its digital equivalent, when this month’s magazines start arriving, last month’s will hit the recycle bin, read or not.

What do you have too many of that needs tossing?

Re-edited from a post originally published 1.7.14-NT