In some ways, we’re all collectors. Some of us collect fine things – silver, china, coins, or art. While others collect (ahem) strange things. And some of us collect useful things, but far, far too many of them. I’ve been in hundreds of homes working with organizing clients, and I’ve noticed some trends. And yes, I can tell you, sometimes there can be too much of a good thing.
Reusable Shopping Bags
This has become the giveaway of choice for fundraisers and stores. While I’m all about skipping the plastic bag, at some point it’s possible to have far too many reusable shopping bags. Look at your collection and find those that are most handy. I love the bags that fold up nice and small and fit in my purse so I always have them with me. In order to use these bags, you’ve got to create a habit around having them in your car and taking them into the store with you. Cull down your collection to those that function best for you and are practical. Donate the rest.
If you’ve ever walked the floor of a trade show, you know this is one of the most popular giveaways. If the typical American “junk drawer” is any indication, most of us seem to have about 27.3 pens per household member. Yep. That’s too many! Next time you’re parked in front of your Netflix binge watch of choice, grab a scrap piece of paper and your entire pen collection. Test them out, ditch the ones that don’t work, and donate at least half of your collection. Keep this collection from re-populating, avoid picking up the free pen at your next trade show!
I work with a lot of sporty people. People who run races, play on teams and participate in charity walks and support causes. Every single event seems to come with a T-shirt commemorating that moment in time. It can be helpful to set a physical limit on how much space you give to T-shirts. Unless you work in athletic wear every single day and spend 75% or more of your time wearing T-shirts, a single drawer should suffice. Pick out your favorites and donate the rest. If you’re attached to T-shirts from your past but wouldn’t wear them, consider snapping a picture of them or having a T-shirt quilt made.
Another favorite giveaway (I’m looking at you, NPR!), I find that most Americans have about three times the number of coffee mugs they could ever reasonably use. Unless you regularly host coffee drinking events and serve the masses, I find that two mugs per household member is about enough. Donate the rest.
“No.more.wire.hangers!” Take this massive collection to your local dry cleaners to be recycled. Many cleaners offer a recycling box you can keep in your closet to make recycling even easier. Commit to a single type of hanger (I’m a fan of the huggable hangers that are slim, grip your clothes, and glide easily on a hanging rod). Your closet will instantly look neater!
Based on my unscientific studies, other Americans receive flowers much more often than I do. And they have the vases to prove it. If you love to have fresh flowers around your home, pick your favorites in a variety of sizes and recycle or donate the extra florist vases you have filling your cabinets.
Free Samples & Travel Size Toiletries
It’s so tempting to stockpile these things because they’re “free!” When walking through a department store, or checking out with a purchase, it’s hard to say no when someone hands you something you don’t have to pay for. But these things tend to pile up and often go unused. Open up that bathroom drawer and remove all of the contents. Keep only those products and brands that you know you use and love. You can keep a few of the extras for a small basket of samples for guests if you often have people stay overnight. Otherwise, donate or ditch the rest. Same goes for hotel samples. It can be helpful to keep two or three things on hand for travel, but let the rest go.
With spring time right around the corner, use the changing of the seasons as an opportunity to walk around your home with fresh eyes, looking for things that might be getting in the way of living the life you want to live. Grab an empty laundry basket and challenge yourself to let go of 30 things you have too many of. Less, really can lead to more!