Having multiples of certain items in your home (plates) or office (reams of paper) can be very helpful. If we use those items often, we simply need to find a way to store them for easy access. But, sometimes, multiples can double and begin to take up valuable space in our homes and offices. Don’t let those “every day” items get out of control. Consider donating these five items that you probably have duplicates of:
- Paper shopping bags. How many shopping bags do you own? The bags we get from shopping at certain stores can be very sturdy and attractive. And, they’re useful, right? You can use them to take your lunch to work or to hold something you wish to give to a friend. Their value seems unending and it’s easy to accumulate them since you get one each time you make a purchase. Now that reusable grocery bags are being encouraged, you might find yourself with an influx of old paper shopping bags. If you have several that you no longer need, consider giving them to charities that could benefit from their use. (Some charities bag up meals, clothes, supplies, or purchases and are always looking for bag donations.)
- Hotel toiletries. If you’re a frequent traveler, chances are you’ve returned home with these travel-size toiletry bottles and packets. If you don’t use them when you get home (offer them to guests, pour shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and liquid soaps into your larger bottles, use shower caps as food container covers), they can override and clutter your space. When your collection has become too large, donate them to a local shelter or reduce clutter altogether by leaving them at the hotel.
- Pens, pencils, and markers. How many times have you made it back home with a pen that you borrowed and forgot to return? That happens to me all the time, especially with Sharpies. If you take a look around your home, you probably have a few pens and markers (or even highlighters and markers, particularly if someone in your family is in school) hanging about in more than one room. It’s impossible to use them all, so donating them is a great option.
First, check your stash and remove the ones that no longer work. Then, select a handful (or two) that write well and consider giving them to schools and community centers in your neighborhood or to the Pencil Project. Store the ones that you’re keeping in the places that you tend to use them the most (nightstand, home office, by telephones). Of course, if you’ve discovered too many pens in your office, simply return them to the supply room or share with your officemate.
- Sheets. The number of linens you need can depend on how often you do laundry. If you change your sheets every week (or every two weeks), you likely won’t need more than two or three sets. Sometimes we still have sheets of varying sizes that used to fit beds we no longer have. Or, perhaps they need repairing and you haven’t gotten around to fixing them yet? Whether they’re the wrong size or need mending, consider giving them to an animal shelter, but if they’re still in good shape, many local charities will accept them.
- Mugs. When I was in college, I collected mugs and I’d get them as gifts, too. When I moved into my first apartment, I still kept all my mugs and then I realized that I often reached for the same one, leaving the others untouched for long stretches of time. Even if I had coffee several times during the day, I wouldn’t be able to use every mug I had. If you find yourself in a similar position, pass them on to a charity like Goodwill (or to the student in your life who’s away at college or in a new apartment).
You may not realize that you have duplicates unless you’re actively uncluttering. Take a look inside your storage areas and start putting like items together so that you can get a better sense of the volume and multiples of things you have. And, using the suggestions above, pinpoint items that are great candidates for donation. You’ll gain more space for your important items and help others in the process.