5 Things You Can Discard Today

Stuff. Collection. Keepsakes. Junk. Clutter. Call it what you will and spell it how you may. It is still a four-letter word in the tiny house community. Stuff is one of those multi-description things that has the ability to hold you back, weigh you down, and otherwise keep you from true freedom! In the book Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk writes: The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.

Storage Unit

Yet still, getting rid of stuff can be difficult at best. There has been conversation before about the freedom’s gained by downsizing but for us it was about taking the things we loved so much and sharing them with others. We weren’t actively using them so why not let someone who would use them, have them. Doing so allowed us to have a more peaceful, clutter-free home and helped our transition into a tiny house a much easier one. Hopefully following these tips will allow you to experience the same freedom.

1. Kitchen Drawers

Doesn’t everyone own and use two sets of ice tongs and a minimum of four ‘sporks’ from your favorite Taco Bell? If this is you perhaps you should consider paring down. A good way to do so is to institute a 3-bin system. This systems consists of two boxes and one drawer. First empty out your kitchen drawer into the first box. As you use each utensil place it into the second box. If you need to use it again take it out of the second box, use it, and return it to the drawer. It now warrants enough usage to keep. Anything that remains in box two or box one at the end of a pre-determined time get discarded.

2. Coffee Mugs

Service of four and two for guests. That is pretty much all you need. Beyond that you can purchase mugs for about $0.25 at the thrift store. Then you can use it and discard it again and not feel guilty for the purchase.

Coffee Mugs

3. Receipts

Yes, it is wise to keep gift receipts in case someone doesn’t like something, won’t use something, got multiples of something, or the gift is dysfunctional. However, if the receipts are just general purchases there are more efficient and space-conscious ways of keeping receipts. Consider a program/App like Evernote or a scanning program that typically comes with a new printer.

4. Periodicals

Magazines have become a decorating accessory through the years. No guest room is complete without a stack by the bed and on bathroom is ready for guests without a small library. But if the year is 2015 and the periodical is from 1999 chances are it is out-of-date and of little interest to anyone. Consider changing out magazines and even books with newer, more fresh material that is more enjoyable to read and more current in its topics.


5. Electronics

The nostalgia for a Motorola pager is great. All Jedi know that. However, the user for one is non-existent. This applies to Blackberry’s, Razr flip phones, Kyocera brick phone, and Sony Walkmans. De-cluttering is not limited to the kitchen. eJunk is a very real problem and it seems the average family has quite a collection of useless devices. Perhaps the problem is not knowing how to dispose of them, parting with them after such an initial expense, or just said nostalgia, after all. Fight the urge though and gain space back by permanently burying that coveted 5-disk changer that was once so popular.

Your Turn!

  • Do you have a problem getting rid of things around the house?
  • Is your kitchen the first place clutter builds up?
  1. The key to kitchen gadgets is having multi-use items. I tend to haunt the thrift shop looking for upgrades for kitchen things but if I find one I make sure to get rid of the old stuff right away. I clip receipts for warranty items to the instruction manuals that I keep in a file but if the item goes, so does the manual and the receipt gets recycled. Most of the other receipts are just fire starter unless needed for tax or something. Old electronics should be disposed of properly, not just thrown in the trash. A little online research should result in some good local options.

    Our local library has stacks of magazines you can borrow so it’s easy to keep current. Unfortunately they don’t have Fine Homebuilding and I can’t afford a luxury item like that but you can spend a lot of time looking at the books and magazines at Home Depot before anybody kicks you out if you go on a Saturday morning when it’s busy.

    Friends and relatives often gift you with kitchen or decorative items or dishes but one of the big advantages of tiny houses is that you can honestly say you don’t have room for it and avoid the touchy issue of different tastes. Bonus!

  2. Great tips, especially for those that see paring down as an overwhelming task.

    Alice is right, we don’t live in a tiny house, however, we don’t want any more things. Do you have a post on diplomatic ways of saying no more gifts that take up space?

    • The no gift thing is really hard, I find what works sometimes is “thanks, I really like this, I’m going to keep it at your place and then when I visit I can see it”

      People get the idea after awhile 🙂

    • You can request a gift be made to the charity or org of your choice in your name!!

  3. I am amazed at how much better my photographs look digitized than on paper. Get a scanner and get rid of all that photographic paper. Be sure to have a back-up, though. I have a frame that can show a slide show of my favorites when I want to see them, and sits waiting for that time. It takes up way less room than all those picture albums I spent hours on years ago.
    I’m also digitizing all my music tapes and vinyl. I wish I had done it sooner, but I’m doing a box at a time, and emptying my storage unit within the next year. (I hope.)

  4. Oh, yes, and I ask for experiences, like tickets to plays, concerts, and events, and dinners out, and trips instead of things that take up space. Food and flowers are nice, too. Plants for my garden. Lots of things don’t take space, but often time. Much better.

  5. Great tips! When I first started minimizing the kitchen was such a tough place to downsize. It is so much nicer to have less stuff in there now though. Washing dishes takes 10X less. It’s a wonderful thing 🙂

  6. I am unloading and doing some serious downsizing. I post my good discards on freecycle’s local affiliate: www.freecycle.org

    It’s simple. You post an ad for free asking for an item(s) or offering an item(s) and local people will reply to your ad. I cannot begin to tell you the good stuff I donated using freecycle and the people are polite and appreciative, and the best part is that it keeps stuff out of landfills and saves others money.

  7. Hi, I was wondering how you began to go through your children’s toys and such? What was that process like for you and your kids? Seems like a hard challenge to conquer and would love love your input!! Thanks Nicole

    • My husband and I are trying to tackle the same thing with our daughter. She’s 2.5yrs so she wants to keep everything so asking her to make choice isn’t good. We’ve started with toys she doesn’t seem interested in and hide them. If she doesn’t ask for it in a week it’s gone. It seems to be working so far.

    • Kids toys – I have several ideas.
      With 5 boys, they often had difficulty picking up their toys. I stopped nagging and picked up the toys for them – straight into a kitchen trash bag which went into the attic. After several months their toy box thinned out quite a bit. Then I worked out a trade. New item in = old item out. This applied to birthday, Christmas and all other ‘gifts’ or purchases! Finally, the attic bags came down one at a time with the same deal! I was surprised by their selections, and they happily donated items that were in good condition to other children.

      My 8year old grandson had a wonderful idea. He already had enough toys that he liked, and asked his invited guests to bring gifts to give to boys and girls at their local family shelter. He said it was his best birthday ever – because he was able to give away so many brand new toys to those children!
      He taught me and quite a few others about selfless generosity that day!

  8. Thanks so much for your tips on downsizing kitchen items! That’s a particularly difficult area for me.

    I have to say that digitizing has been the greatest boon for downsizing thus far. I’ve grown attached to way too many things and a friend suggested taking pictures of the items and then donating them. As for my tons of books, I’m gradually getting ebook versions of my favs, a lot of them for free.

    Now if I could just figure a way to digitize my sewing fabrics and supplies…LOL

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