Magazine and Newspaper Clippings
It's time to admit that your noble plans to read all those thoughtful essays and try all those yummy-looking recipes are probably not going to come to fruition in this millennium. If there are clippings you’re just not ready to part with, snap a pic (try the iScanner app) and store them on your hard drive, then recycle the rest to eliminate paper pileups for good.
Unused Hardware and Extra Parts
To get down to the nuts and bolts of your hardware collection, set aside some time to sort and organize your assemblage of bits and pieces. Get rid of extra parts to machines you no longer own, toss the Allen wrenches and other tools that came with your assemble-it-yourself furniture, and throw out rusted odds and ends you thought you might need one day. With an orderly stash to draw from, you'll find that your fix-its will be quicker and easier.
How many empty paper or plastic shopping bags do you have stashed in the cabinet under the sink right now? Probably more than you could ever use in a lifetime. Recycle the extras, and consider carrying reusable tote bags to cut down on future bag buildup.
Most manufacturers now put their user's manuals online, eliminating the need for insane stacks of them on your counter or in the junk drawer. Download any that are related to large appliances or expensive purchases and store them in a folder on your hard drive, then toss that stack of paper manuals into the recycling bin.
Sure, they’re great for leftovers, but do you really need an entire kitchen cabinet full of plastic receptacles? Not to mention all those mismatched lids! Pair up tops with bottoms, then recycle the strays. Although it’s wise to keep a few plastic containers around so you can store that last piece of cake or send some leftover casserole home with your guests, consider purchasing a set of glass containers instead. They'll repel stains and odors and last for years to come.
Always remember the golden rule of closet organization: If you haven’t worn it in a year, it doesn’t need to be taking up precious space in your bedroom closet. It might be difficult, but donating, reselling, or tossing items that aren’t the right size, fit, or style will give your closet more breathing room and make keeping it organized less of a chore.
Grubby Grooming Supplies
Old lipsticks and eye shadows have no place in the bathroom vanity. Most makeup and grooming products have a shelf life of a year or less, so don’t let outdated extras loiter longer than necessary. And that hair gel you hate and that lotion that gives you a rash? Time to say goodbye to those too.
Gifts That Missed the Mark
As much as we appreciate our friends’ generosity, we don’t need to hold on to every scented candle or holiday-themed candy dish that comes our way. Take a moment to appreciate the sentiment of gifts past, and then pass them along to a local thrift store or donation center.
Yes, you could get that chair’s wicker seat rewoven, but will you? If an outdated piece of furniture that you keep meaning to refurbish has been taking up space for more than a year, it’s time to let it go. Post it under “free stuff” on Craigslist, donate to charity, or simply drag it to the curb. You might be amazed at how much space your basement or garage suddenly has to offer.
If you have a stash of aging devices and orphaned cords cluttering a spare drawer in anticipation of a “what if” situation down the road, it’s time to clear them out. Some gadgets, such as old phones or TVs, may be worth selling or giving to organizations that will refurbish them or pass them on to someone in need, which makes the purging a win-win.
Save your tax returns, deeds, leases, and—if you itemize expenses—your relevant bills from the past seven years, and file them neatly away. Everything else can go right into the shredder and then on to the recycling bin. To organize your paperwork going forward, sign up for electronic billing and save those docs in a neat little folder on your hard drive.
Expired Medicine and Food
For both food and drugs, expiration dates provide simple guidelines for what to keep and what to toss. First, take a quick look in your medicine cabinet and remove old over-the-counter remedies and any expired prescriptions (check with your local pharmacy for the best way to dispose of them). Then, hit your pantry and kitchen cabinets to winnow out those ancient muffin mixes and canned peas that have passed their use-by dates.
Old Craft and DIY Supplies
If the baskets of yarn and knitting needles just fill you with guilt about the scarves you never finished, pack them up and send them off to the secondhand store—along with those woodworking tools you used once and never touched again. Clearing these out will make you feel unburdened, refreshed, and ready to take on new creative projects.
Single-Use Kitchen Tools
That salad shooter may have seemed incredibly clever when you picked it up on sale a few years ago, but then you realized that it's a pain to use and a chore to clean. Sift through your kitchen utensil drawer and trash any tools you haven't used in a year or so. After you've done a thorough purging, you'll find it so much easier to find and use the tools you actually need!
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