There is clutter lurking in every home, in particular the following items.
They wear a disguise of usefulness but are not worth the space they take up.
- Party items. The culprits are usually plastic plates, cups and cutlery, but there will often be some rogue streamers and candles in the bunch. How can I use them? Hopefully at the inevitable rounds of picnics and outdoor events in Covid times. But if like me, you don’t actually like eating with them, donate*.
- Serviettes. Often bundled in with the aforementioned party gear. How can I use them? If you use paper towel in the kitchen, put these in its place. Great for spills and messes.
- Plastic platters. These seem to multiply in the cupboard but the truth is we keep buying them because we don’t know where we put the last batch and they are so darn cheap. How can I use them? Donate*.
- Takeaway containers. The inevitable result of enjoying the delights of local cuisine. They seem too useful to throw away. How can I use them? They can be handy as drawer dividers for cosmetics and jewellery. I put my daily makeup in one and if someone needs the bathroom I can move the entire container to another mirror. And of course picnics and leftovers until they crack and falter. After those ideas, the recycling bin awaits. Thank goodness they are (usually) recyclable or better still, compostable. Old jars can follow suit.
- Drink bottles. Why must every activity these days involve a free water bottle emblazoned with an awful logo? How can I use them? Even the op shops don’t want these, just hope for a recycling symbol.
- Reusable shopping bags. Often acquired, and just-as-often forgotten. The ‘bag of bags’ grows pretty quickly. How can I use them? Check out my video on keeping the plastic ones tidy. As for the rest, use them for your decluttering offerings and/or bundle up as a standalone donation*.
- Spices. You know the ones you buy for a particular recipe or stage in your life? Before you know it, 20 years have passed. The caraway seeds are languishing in your spice rack with a label design that reminds you of boy bands and watching The Titanic at the cinema. How can I use them? Compost the contents and recycle the containers.
- Hand sanitiser. We all panic-bought it in 2020 and don’t use it as much as we thought. Then an unconfirmed rumour went around that sanitiser explodes in hot cars, so that was the end of that. We have various versions of it in small, clip-on containers, big pump packs and everything in between. How can I use them? Donate*. There are still doomsday preppers around.
- Hotel toiletries. It always seemed like a good idea to keep these products for travelling. (Remember travelling?) Alas, they are often poor quality, and one of those emergency items never actually required. Time to say goodbye. How can I use them? Pichapoo and Blessing Bags do good things with them.
- Promo clothing. The fun run T shirt from 2012 and that ‘team building exercise’ cap from the job you hated are not much good at the back of your wardrobe. How can I use them? T shirts make good rags, or else the bin. Say no to them from now on. Like drink bottles, bad logos render them useless.
- Old bedding. We are often tempted by sales and fresh new ideas, but rarely remove the old stuff, pledging that they will be handy when things get desperate. But they never get that desperate. How can I use them? Vets and animal shelters can use blankets and towels, but usually nothing with feathers in it. Otherwise the usual donation* streams.
- Stationery. Pens, folders and blunt pencils are the main culprits. It’s always handy to have a pen around, but we use technology for most things now, so only the bare minimum is necessary. Remember liquid paper? Those were the days. How can I use them? Donate*.
- Device cables. I don’t know how many hours I have lost squinting at a mess of cables and wondering how the heck it accumulated. Also how do they become so tangled all on their own? How can I use them? A good sort might be warranted. For any you are unsure of, bag them up with the date. That means next time you check you will know which ones aren’t used, and you can confidently discard them. The local tip and Officeworks collect them by the way. The metals are stripped out and recycled.
- Cleaning supplies. The idea of a separate product for every surface in your house seemed good at the shop, but it can all get a bit much. Learning how to clean with basic ingredients is a big step towards simplifying your life. Hey and can Specsavers please stop giving me free lens cleaner? How can I use them? Donate*.
- Product boxes. They seem useful for returns, online sales and house-moves. But a broken item under warranty doesn’t need a box for return. Your re-sale is not markedly improved by having the box. Also there are better boxes for moving house. More importantly these items take up a lot of space in the meantime. How can I use them? Cute plain ones (I’m looking at you Apple) can be used as drawer dividers in a MarieKondo style. In particular for small things like junk drawers, stationery, jewellery and cosmetics. And the big boxes for underwear. If not, into the curbside recycling bin they go.
But the best thing to do is say no. Don’t let them inside in the first place. Get organised and use what you already own. They are like bad lovers – charm their way in and don’t want to leave.