Using Stuff Up, Part 2

Last time, I talked about how much I love to use stuff up. This time, I’d like to address a related topic: stuff that never gets used up.

When I work with clients, here are some of the most common places where I see this happen.

  • In the kitchen: food that gets opened but doesn’t ever get finished. Or food that gets purchased and never even gets opened.
  • In the bathroom: products that are used for a while but then get displaced by a different product. If the number of bottles of shampoo in your shower exceeds the number of people using that shower, then you know what I’m talking about.

Space is limited, so leaving products hanging around unfinished is not a good idea. They become clutter and they collect dust (or worse).

Many items in bathrooms and kitchens have expiration dates. As I addressed in my post entitled Making Friends with Expiration Dates, an expiration date lets you know how long ago you bought an item and can help you make the decision about whether it should stick around. Even if you aren’t concerned that your packaged cake mix expired in 2016, it’s an indication that you just aren’t into baking cakes.

Sometimes we want to try a product — a new face cream for example — and then don’t like it that much, so we stop using it. Or we try a new face cream and like it a lot, so the one that we were using before never gets touched again.

The best way to root out these unloved products is to remove everything from the space where they are stored. (This also gives you the rare opportunity to scrub that space, since it probably hasn’t been empty in a while.) Then start putting back the things you use all the time or plan to use very soon. I’m guessing that you’ll discover some items that you haven’t thought about in a while and maybe even forgot that you had.

If unloved products are long expired or just plain icky, it’s best to toss them. If they still have life in them, see if you can give them away. Products that have never been opened can be given away on BuyNothing, or donated to a shelter or thrift shop.