Duplicates you can donate or trash

It is amazing how quickly certain items can accumulate. You are blind to realize how many of an item you have until you have too many.


  • Report covers: A few years ago we had 65 of them — yes 65! I ended up keeping eight of them for children’s reports for school and donated the rest.
  • Pencil cases: You only need one per child and one spare.
  • Pens: It drives me crazy if pens are one colour on the outside (e.g. red) but write another colour (e.g. black). I try not to even bring them into the house.
  • Staples, elastics, paperclips and pushpins: Keep one small container of each and donate the rest.

Consider donating office supplies to charities. They often work on very tight budgets and may not have extra money for supplies for their own offices. Libraries, schools, and community centres may also appreciate the donation.


  • Plastic cutlery, paper plates, and take-out trays: If you regularly use these disposable items for school/work lunches, keep a week’s worth handy and let go of the rest. You can use the “one-in, one-out” rule. As soon as you get a new one, toss an old one. If you may need them for picnics or parties later in the year, store them in a less frequently used area of the kitchen.
  • Plastic Cups: Recycle plastic cups from amusement parks or sporting events. You really don’t need to save them to make a Beer Snake at the next cricket match.
  • Food storage containers: Get rid of any that are stained, broken, or have missing or ill-fitting lids. About a dozen 500mL containers are enough for the average family of four. Choose identical containers with identical lids to keep things simple.
  • Reusable shopping bags: Keep as many as you need for groceries. You may choose to use a few for carting around hobby and sports equipment. Charity shops, schools, or your local library would likely appreciate any bags that you are not using.


  • Hangers: If you’re practicing “one-in, one-out”, there is no need for extra hangers in your closets. Keep a few for guests’ clothing and coats and maybe a few for your laundry room. Charity shops usually accept all types of hangers and many dry cleaners accept wire hangers. I always keep one wire hanger in my toolbox because at some point something valuable will roll under the refrigerator and I’ll need to undo a wire hanger to get it.
  • Towels: Keep only the best ones and keep only those you use. The old ones can be cut into rags or donated to an animal shelter.
  • T-shirts: It’s time to say good-bye to the worn out shirts with sports’ team logos and your favourite T-shirt from high school. Keep the best, let go of the rest.


  • Cosmetic bags: A free cosmetic bag with every cosmetics purchase adds up to clutter. Keep one for the suitcase, one for your gym bag, and maybe a spare one. Donate the rest.
  • Razors: Old, rusty, and broken razors should go directly to the trash. Say good-bye to any razor handles for which you no longer wish to replace the blades.
  • Hair Accessories: Broken hairbrushes and combs that you’re no longer using can go directly into the garbage. Other hair accessories in good condition can be donated after they have been cleaned and sanitized.

Remember that if the item is not in good enough condition to give to a friend, it is best not to donate it to charity. Always check with the recipient charity to ensure they will benefit from the items you would like to donate. Keep clutter out of your space and look for even more items you can donate.

9 Comments for “Duplicates you can donate or trash”

  1. posted by crunchycon on

    As far as keeping cosmetic bags are concerned, your guidelines are spot on. One thing we did find to do with all the spares was to fill them with an assortment of the samples we didn’t care for or use (and yes, we get those with the cosmetics purchase) to make little toiletry kits to donate to the local women’s shelter,

  2. posted by Leslie R. on

    You would not believe how many pens I threw out when I cleaned my office. A lot of them were “pretty” pens – gel ink in all different colors, metallics, decorative pens. I used to buy them all the time, but most of them never actually wrote that well. This time, I went through every single one and if ink didn’t flow immediately and smoothly on to my scrap paper, I tossed it. I still have too many pens, but at least they all write. 🙂

  3. posted by Jane L on

    When I moved from a spacious bathroom with lots of storage to a smaller bathroom, I knew I needed to purge. I was stunned at how many old hair clips, scrunchies (goodbye 1985!) and weird, solidified hair gel containers I got rid of, both before and after I moved! Now from time to time I think, what would I take if I had to move again? I try not to throw too much away, but it does help me decide what to replace (or not) and what can be freecycled or offered to a friend.

  4. posted by Melissa O. on

    I had all my old Peace Corps t-shirts, which were taking up too much space in my closet, made into a t-shirt quilt. It was worth every penny; they even added a hanging sleeve, so now it hangs as decr on the wall with photos and awards from my service. The company was called “Campus Quilts”, and they were fantastic.

  5. posted by Canlau on

    I use those extra cosmetic bags for lots of things, especially for travelling. They’re the perfect size for my dogs grooming supplies (brushes, scissors, etc), cords and chargers for my electronics, a weekends worth of feminine supplies, hair stuff (elastics, clips, etc), laptop bits (the mouse, usb stick, extra cords, etc). There are still always too many cosmetic bags, but at least some of them can be repurposed and are prettier than the ziploc bags I would otherwise use.

  6. posted by Margaret L on

    I noted your comment about tossing sports T-shirts! I regret tossing my Dallas Cowboys T-shirt from the early 1980s because they started losing! Some are great souvenirs of our lives. I still have the Original Panama Jack T-shirt — the first of its kind with the name down the sleeves! I still get comments on it when I wear it (and I still do!). I plan to cut my late husband’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally T-shirts and make a memories quilt of them. There are many. Annie’s Crafts website has a great pattern book on how to make T-shirt quilts. And the rest, I cut into long strips and knit into “rag rugs” that I use around the house. If I run short, I have taken to buying them for 50 cents a piece at a thrift store near my house, and as a bonus for the lucky knitter, I have found a number of new or nearly new tops of all sorts that I love! Maybe it’s not too de-cluttering, but I do love this life!

  7. posted by Linda on

    Have started passing on the sample-sized goodies from hotel stays to a local agency that hands them out to homeless teens.

  8. posted by Harry on

    While I agree with the underlying idea – how many do you need? and donate the rest – I found that I disagreed with most of the specifics … which made me laugh.

    Reusable containers
    I have at least a couple dozen storing food in my freezer, another dozen in the fridge (they’re great for organizing small jars and such), and need at least a dozen more for ongoing use because I take 3-4 to work every day. I probably have 5 dozen total just in the kitchen. The fact that I’ve run out of every size at one time or another means, to me, that I don’t have too many. But hearty seconding of only containers that are in good shape, and with as many interchangable lids as possible.

    I keep 2 sets per household member, 3 sets for guests, 3-6 beach towels, and 3-4 mud towels.

    Office Supplies
    I’ll use them eventually, so I keep what I have. IF, and this is a big if, I like them. So I don’t keep pens I don’t like.

    As for the free-with-purchase items you don’t need – you don’t have to accept them. You could donate them, true, but for some that’s an additional hassle. (And some of us don’t always donate when we plan to. Ahem.)

    And what’s with people who try to use a pen, find it doesn’t work, then put it back into the pen cup?!? I really and truly don’t understand why they don’t throw out the dead pens – can someone enlighten me? (Assume there’s a trash can and the pen doesn’t have sentimental value.)

  9. posted by Christina Scalise on

    Very nice article! I especially like that you included donating old towels to animal shelters as they always seem to be in need of donations…..

    If anyone is interested….. I have posted a list of places where people can donate/sell/recycle their unwanted items (including where/how to find LOCAL animal shelters)….. https://www.OrganizeYourLifeAndMore.com/Sell_Donate_Recycle.html

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