How to Throw Things Away Like A God Damn Grown Up

How to Throw Things Away Like A God Damn Grown Up

If you’re a hoarder it’s probably for one of three reasons.

1. You’re afraid of throwing away something that you might need in the future.

2. You hate waste.

3. You have sentimental attachments to lots of stuff.

All of these reasons are totally valid, however if you allow each of them to become excuses you won’t ever throw anything away and then you’ll become like one of those people on TV with 16 birds in your house that don’t live in cages and your couch is a stack of newspapers from 1992. Here’s how to throw things away that are cluttering up your life. I’m talking about items that are useless, broken or un-giftable. I’m a huge believer in giving items away and recycling things but sometimes, sometimes you’ve got to be a grown up and chuck that stuff away. Here’s how.

How to Throw Things Away Like A God Damn Grown Up

Old Magazines and Newspapers

Most magazines are monthly and most newspapers are daily so by the time the new edition of either has been released, the previous edition should be gone from your home. If you collect certain magazines, that’s fine, but limit your collections to one or two titles or be super brave and ditch this habit completely. I used to collect Frankie magazines but after a few years I realised I had a pile of out-of-date magazines that I never had the time to re-read so their only purpose seemed to be making moving house a nightmare. Although it’s a beautiful publication and letting go of the collection wasn’t easy, I haven’t once regretted ditching them. I actually tried to give them away but no one wanted them. So I recycled them. You may be really attached to your 30-year-old mint condition collection of Wallpaper magazines but what purpose do they serve other than to add clutter to your life? Just have a think about it.

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Spent Kitchenware

I was at a friend’s house not long ago and he was packing up dinner leftovers. He grabbed a plastic container from the cupboard, and although the container was clean he saw that there was a ring of crusty and irremovable scum around the inside of the container, he said ‘Ew!’ and promptly put it back in the cupboard and selected another container. Throw. That. Shit. Out. I understand that people hate waste, believe me I’m a toothpaste tube cutter from way back but if something in your home becomes un-useable through wear and tear you need to throw it away. You could also chuck it in a corner of the garage with 50 other gross plastic containers to use ‘one day’ but I can guarantee you will only use about 5% of them. Be in control and throw it away.

Old Clothing

If socks have holes in them, throw them away. Laddered tights? Throw them away. Underwear that has lost it’s elastic? In. The. Bin. I love to upcycle and recycle as much as anyone but there are very few ways for you to reuse shreds of material that have spent years cupping your nether regions. Do not donate them to charity because no ones wants your skanky grundies. Just pick them up and chuck them in the bin. Do it.

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Broken Furniture

If you offer it to friends and there’s no takers you have few options other than to chuck it in a corner of your garage because you can’t bring yourself to throw it away or you can just throw it away.  Chuck it in the hopper, take it to the tip or leave it on the street for hard rubbish collection if your city does that. If it’s broken and un-fixable and no one else wants it, get rid of it. There is absolutely no point in keeping furniture that is broken beyond repair.

Keepsakes

Confession: I’m a bit of a sap and if there’s one thing that I tend to hoard it’s little notes, birthday cards and random little gifts from friends that I’ve collected over the years. I keep anything truly meaningful like cards from Mr Smaggle but I ditch EVERYTHING else. Any card that says ‘Dear Carly, have a rad birthday love from Insert Friends Name’, wedding invites, birthday invites, thank you cards, Christmas cards, cards from students and crap from old boyfriends get thrown in the bin. I have a friend who has about 10 shoeboxes, each one dedicated to an ex-boyfriend and she’s MARRIED now. It’s insane. I understand keeping a sweet note or necklace from an ex but a whole box full of crap including an empty Maltesers packet from the first time you went to the movies is a bit overkill, especially if you aren’t even with that person anymore.

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Bank Slips and Misc Papers

You only need to keep the last 7 years of your payment slips, bank statements and tax return documents. The rest can be shredded and recycled. What about that box of papers you brought home from that job you quit 10 years ago? Do you need those? Nope. Didn’t think so. Recycle them. What about every university assignment you’ve ever done? That poorly researched essay that you wrote about Madame Bovary that you got 51% for? Do you need that? Nope? Recycle it. What about all the text books you spent a fortune on and weren’t able to sell? Recycle them. Giving stuff like this valuable real estate in your home isn’t going to give you any more value for money out of them. Ditch them.

DVDs and CDs

It’s been about 6 years since I’ve had a DVD or CD player in my home, however up until about a two years ago, I had shelves FULL of CDS and DVDS. I finally copied all my CDS and DVDS onto a hardrive and I donated the hard copies to charity and to be perfectly honest if Spotify and Netflix had been as awesome back then as they are now, I wouldn’t have even wasted four days copying them. I know this sounds drastic and many people can’t cope with the concept of ditching all their CDS but if you literally can’t remember the last time you put a disc in a machine then you need to cleanse yourself of that mess.

Also… Don’t Buy Cheap Shit

This is the most important point. If you continue to spend money on poorly manufactured crap your imprint on the earth is going to be massive. It took me a really long time to realise that buying one horrible $20 fry pan every year adds up to a beautiful $120 (on sale) Scanpan over the course of six years. Same goes with plastic lunch containers. 10 x $3 supermarket lunch containers = 1 awesome Tupperware lunch container that you can RUN OVER WITH A CAR and it won’t break. Start making better purchasing choices and you’ll save both the planet and your wallet.

Do you have problems throwing things away? Are you inspired to throw away anything you’ve been holding on to for too long?

 

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.

59 Comments

  1. Tahlia Meredith 8 months ago

    I’m a real sucker for the keepsakes category – bits of paper, old cards, even fun t-shirts I bought from places I went to. I’m getting better at ruthlessly ditching stuff, and one thing that helped me (especially with the shirts) is taking photos. Now I can flick through them digitally to remember the fun times instead of pushing them around trying to make room for clothes I actually wear.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      I’ve gotten to the point where just don’t buy fun t-shirts and stuff because I know I won’t wear them and they’ll just end up taking up space in my cupboard until I ditch them all the next time I move!

  2. I’m ruthless – with a capital R! Yet still it took a whole truck to transport our stuff to Brisbane. Was lamenting said ruthlessness the other night when out with uni mates and one has all the letters I wrote to her when we were each home on holidays – that’s a lot of dirt she has on me but I don’t have her return letters!

    • GoddessMel 8 months ago

      Oh my, Nikki – that could be dangerous LOL. I hope none of my old school friends did that! A consolation of being (almost) 40 is that we did most of our stupid stuff before digital cameras and the internet ;)

      • Author
        Smaggle 8 months ago

        I just missed the crazy cycle of that too! All my high school formal photos were taken on a film camera!

        • GoddessMel 8 months ago

          Somehow the deb ball and formal photos still managed to make an appearance at our 20 year reunion … damn scanners!

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      You’re a grown up with kids though, so there’s so much more stuff that goes along with that. Some of my mates have DISGUSTING photos of me. I’m hoping they never surface!

  3. Great post! I’m pretty good with everything except the keepsakes. I’m about to pack to move from years of sharehouses into my first very-own apartment, so I’m being extra ruthless as I want everything to have a proper place. Might be tough but I just have to do it!
    One thing I will add though is make sure if you’re throwing out documents from work/banks etc that might have personal details on it that you shred them first – better to be safe than sorry!

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      Definitely! I always shred all my documents!

  4. I get stuck on the sentimental stuff. During this latest clean up I ask myself the question “do I want to pack this in a box if we move?” If not, it goes now.

    • Tahlia Meredith 8 months ago

      Oh that’s a terrific idea! The pain of moving house is very fresh so I think that will definitely spur action.

      • Author
        Smaggle 8 months ago

        I totally agree. I never take junk to a new house!

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      Totally! Also if you’ve had stuff in storage for years and you haven’t missed it, it’s pretty safe to just ditch the whole lot I say!

  5. Natalie Mulford 8 months ago

    Oh man, I am horrid. HORRID. I have so much stuff, and it’s crazy. I’ve been slowly getting rid of stuff, and after seeing how minimally my boyfriend lives, I’ve been being more ruthless, but it’s hard! Thanks for the tips, I think I need to reconsider needing to keep all my CD singles.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      Darling. Can you PLEASE ditch the CD singles? For me? Aint’ nobody needs CD SINGLES!!!! xxx

  6. 26 Years & Counting 8 months ago

    i am only just learning to throw things out. As a kid we moved often and to make it cheaper I was always pressured to throw things out. I would be told “You never have to throw anything out that you don’t want to” – then came packing time and it was “Oh, you’re keeping THAT?”. So I still have small stress reactions to throwing things out. I’ve sort of fixed it by doing things little and often, but I’m nowhere near where I need to be!

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      I totally get that. My mum was the same, even though we didn’t move often she’s a totally cleanser and always made us throw things away! Although my brother hated throwing things away so he’d clean his room and leave a bunch of crap in my room that I wasn’t allowed to throw away. So annoying.

  7. Erika 8 months ago

    Guilty as charged to keeping letters, concert stubs, etc. But they do have dedicated boxes in my library. And, I tend not to throw out old undies, socks….we have alternative uses! Rag bag, so that they can be tossed after cleaning brass and silver in the house, car bits in the garage, used in the garden for tying things up and socks (unless they are really dire) go into a separate bag for next time one of the dogs injures a foot or leg and needs a cover over the bandage. Can’t go past socks for that!

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      As long as they have dedicated boxes! I don’t throw out all the socks, I keep a few for rags but really I go through socks way faster than rags so I tend to have to throw them to stop from dying under an avalanche of socks!

  8. Hailz 8 months ago

    I’m pretty good except for the keepsakes. Cards, drawings from my little sister, letters.. I think I’m also going to take photos and then I can still see them without them taking up any physical space! I think you’re right about DVD’s and CD’s, but I just can’t get rid of books. They are so annoying to move (having just moved from Melbourne to Canberra) but they are too nice to get rid of!

    • GoddessMel 8 months ago

      Taking photos or scanning items of sentimental value is a great idea. I have been doing this with things like concert tickets and exhibit paraphernalia that I previously used to keep. Now I scan them and keep a board on Pinterest of interesting or significant things I’ve done in a given year.

      And I TOTALLY get the book thing. DH despairs of my books each time we move and I feel the same way about his shed(s) :) I have had to curb my Bookcrossing addiction and stick to releasing wherever possible, only picking up those books that I REALLY want (eg to complete a collection).

      • Author
        Smaggle 8 months ago

        I always take of photos of things I love too and just store them on my computer in case. I’m a sucker for books but I don’t keeep novels and things that I won’t read again. Only art and fashion books. I have SO MANY FASHION BOOKS!

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      I haven’t printed photos in years but I have a very thorough record of the last few years on instagram so I’m not too bothere about that!

      Oh wow you did the opposite of me! You’re a Canberra gal! How are you finding it? Lonsdale St Roasters has the best coffee and Sammy’s Kitchen is my favourite Chinese place. :-)

      • Hailz 8 months ago

        So far, so good! All I got from everybody was shock at why I would move and how awful and boring Canberra is, but I don’t get that mindset! I’m originally from the country and Canberra is somewhere between that and Melbourne so the pace and size really suits me. We are in Braddon so I’m loving being central, unlike in Melbourne where I was in the ‘burbs. Thanks for the recommendations – I actually got some off you when we visited Canberra in July too :) I’m excited to check out lots of cafes and bars, there seems to be quite a good selection!

        • Author
          Smaggle 8 months ago

          Oh that’s you! Fantastic! Braddon is great, I love it. And I love Canberra. I get asked all the time about how much better it must be for me to be in Melbourne and I’m all ‘get stuffed!’. Canberra is great. I think boring people find Canberra boring. I grew up there and had the most amazing high school experience. I did so much theatre and basically lived at ANU and the Canberra Theatre. By the way Everyman does GREAT theatre productions there so keep an eye out for their stuff. xxx

          • Hailz 7 months ago

            I don’t feel quite hip enough for Braddon, but I love it too! ;) Thanks for the tip, I’m keen to get as many recommendations as I can!

  9. Tamsin Howse 8 months ago

    I have NO problem throwing things away, it’s the Viking who does. In his defense, he lost his father when he was a tween so he has a good reason to keep his father’s stuff, but will his father care that we took his broken chair to the tip? No. Would his father be offended if we chucked out his badmington bats? No. So why are we still keeping it?

    We also have in our house what I call “The Crap Cycle”. Someone gives us some knick knack (Note: I don’t like knick knacks. In fact, I hate them. I think they are all crap). We appreciate the thought so we put it on display. Other people see said knick knack on display, and come to the perfectly valid conclusion that we must be the kind of people who like knick knacks. So they give us more. Which we put on display, and so on and so forth.

    It should be noted here that the Viking loves knick knacks. And despite my belief that our bookshelves don’t need to be home to a FUCKING GREAT BIG BRONZE STATUE OF ODIN, insists that all knick knacks must be kept and put on display.

    Ahhhh, that feels better.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      Ha ha! I love this. Yes I think the badminton rackets need to go. Oh lord the Crap Cycle sounds AWFUL!!! Mr Smaggle likes knick knacks… I’m not so fond of them myself. They say opposites attract right??? :-)

  10. GoddessMel 8 months ago

    An awesome reminder, especially for those expensive law books I still can’t seem to part with (and can’t sell because the damned lecturers release a new one every 2 years that they make the new students use!!). Have been progressively minimising my stuff, but will be making a concerted effort to clear out the excess before my 40th birthday at the end of the month :)

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      Seriously honey, you’ve got to let go of them. It’s the financial outlay that bothers people. Deep breathe petal. Drop in the recylce bin, hear the satisfying thunk and be pleased with yourself!

      • GoddessMel 8 months ago

        I’ve donated most of them as they’ve became out of date but have kept a couple of general reference ones that have come in handy for work and later subjects. Now I’m about to embark on a post-grad so the cycle starts again!! Will be making use of library books wherever possible.

  11. DrStumpy 8 months ago

    Paper copies of Teaching resources. I have so much paper due to not wanting to waste a worksheet I photocopied too many of. I will through out EVERYTHING I have an electronic copy of and then ONE hard copy if I don’t. Today.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      Absolutely. Ditch that crap… and try really hard not to over photocopy in the future! :-)

  12. J 8 months ago

    I’ve recently learned to love the cull – throwing shit away is my favourite thing. Whenever a housemate moves out I relish ditching all the crap they left behind, whenever I get a new item of clothing I take the opportunity to throw away an old manky t shirt I never wear. I am getting into “investment purchasing” too, because I’d rather buy something once and not think about it for years than have to keep going out replacing it, whether it’s clothes or household stuff. Would love to see a post about what kinds of items you think are worth investing in and specific examples of things you think are worth the money!!

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      That’s a great idea! I’ll totally include that in this series. Thanks!

  13. Bec 8 months ago

    I am doing this. This weekend. Without fail.
    I have a ginormous bedroom that conceals all of the crap I’ve been hoarding. Like a bag of stuff from my old desk (at a job I quit 18 months ago), a bag of stuff that belongs to my ex (that I broke up with a year ago) along with papers and all kinds of rubbish. I can’t wait.
    Also I think the ‘Don’t buy cheap shit’ thing has finally clicked with me. I don’t want any more synthetic tops and dresses. Quality only from now on.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      Good girl! Did you do it? And you need to get rid of the ex-shit. Why people hold on to that stuff is beyond me,

      • Bec 8 months ago

        Oh I know! I’ve only been holding on to it because I’ve been far too lazy to haul it down the post office and send it to him… That needs to change stat!

  14. I’m completely ruthless. I don’t have one thing the girls have brought home from school. At least once a year my husband says “you’re keeping these things, aren’t you?’. I say yes, feel guilty and then toss out the next pile. He comes from a family of hoarders that should have their own reality show.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      One of my friends mother’s has a Christmas tree FULL of handmade ornaments from her kids. It’s really ugly. My mum never put anything we made on the tree and would let us ‘help’ decorate and then change it all once we’d gone to bed. Now I’m a grown up I purposefully wrap my presents in bright fluro colours to clash with her perfect antique tree. Mwah ha ha!

  15. Nicole 8 months ago

    I used to be a low-level hoarder. I think I inherited it. My mother is a medium-level hoarder and her father was a high-level hoarder (he had ice cream container lids, not the containers, just the lids). But two major things snapped me out of that mentality completely. The first was when my Husband and I were without income for 2 1/2 years from 2009-2011. Right before we became unemployed, he had his best paying job ever. We lived in a small town with low cost living and so we stupidly spent all our money on things. Sitting in a house full of things when you can barely afford food and your parents have to pay your rent to stop you from being homeless makes you feel like a bit of an idiot. At least, it did me. I looked around at all the knick knacks and such and realised that while our depression reached an all time high, these pointless objects did nothing for us or our mental well being.
    The second came about after moving all our things for the third or fourth time across the world. We were in our Melbourne flat, getting ready to reluctantly move back to Sydney after he had been let go due to lack of work. And were surrounded by boxes of things. Again, mostly pointless things. I’m not really sure what happened, but a switch went off in my brain. I suddenly just felt completely weighed down by all these things. The having of the things, the storing of the the things, the paying to move and store the things. Horrible.
    So when we found out we were moving back to the US, we went to the markets and without any remorse, sold the majority of our stuff. We managed to get our entire “property” down to 5 check in bags and 2 carry ons.
    Obviously we have more things now, but that switch change was permanent and I no longer look at things in my house and worry about the pain I’ll feel if I get rid of it. It’s really liberating. Along with that switch change was the idea that I’d rather experience more than have more.
    Sorry, I rambled as usual. But I have a lot of feels about this subject. I used to be a person that had a mental break-down when I tried to pack my overflowing wardrobe into suitcases (most of which didn’t fit me) and had to, in one day hull 2/3 of it. And looking back, I realise that getting rid of all those clothes allowed me to stream-line my “look”, and I probably wouldn’t have wanted to wear most of those clothes anymore anyway.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      I used to be a hoarder when I was kid, it comes with the territory of being a crafter but I when I started doing theatre and writing, I stopped crafting so much and theatre and writing don’t require as much junk! Although I do have a lot of old scripts from plays but I keep them. They’re on my allowed to keep list!

  16. Nicole 8 months ago

    More to say, sorry : P. My mother’s hoarder problem is bad enough that she tries to impose it on other people. She puts her own sentimentality on our belongings. To the point that when we were making one of the across the world moves, she just came out and said “I don’t care what you get rid of, you just have to keep …. and ….” one of which was something I had forgotten I even still had and didn’t have a great fondness for in the first place. I can’t stand that.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      Oh wow, no my mother is opposite. ‘Why would you want to keep your graduation tassel? I mean do you ever even look at it?’. She’s a bad ass.

      • Nicole 8 months ago

        Oh man, I wish my Mum was like that. I honestly think she was the reason I had issue with getting rid of stuff for so long. When I was a kid, she would take my room trash can and sort through it and pull most of it out saying that I wasn’t allowed to throw it away. I think that gave me a strange complex in which, even as an adult, I didn’t feel like the decision to get rid of stuff that I owned was up to me.

        When I was really little, I gave her a “present” that was an old medicine bottle (one of those orange ones you see in the movies) filled with a handful of loose yarn, and then the label coloured with texta (it was art, ok haha). She still has that.

  17. Nessbow 8 months ago

    I struggle with throwing things away, for all three of the reasons that you identified. In the last few years I’ve started being quite strict with myself and making myself bin the things that are truly had-it. I do a big purge of my house at least three times a year and it feels so good to get rid of the unnecessary junk.
    When it comes to getting rid of old magazines, I began keeping a scrapbook to keep any really relevant articles, great recipes, cute pictures and such. I feel so much better about throwing away my old mags knowing that I’ve filed all the best bits away.

    • Nicole 8 months ago

      That’s how I got over my obsession with keeping piles of magazines too. But then it turned into a large, heavy box filled with 16 years worth of magazine clippings that I’ve lugged across the world multiple times. They’re just unimportant things like fashion pages and such, but I couldn’t bring myself to let it go. Until my friend gave me an idea that worked a charm. Not sure if you would be into this, but I just uploaded all the pictures onto my computer and made a Pinterest board with them titled the very imaginative title of “Years of Magazine Clippings”.

      • Author
        Smaggle 8 months ago

        That’s a brilliant idea! I might actually do that.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      I actually used to have scrap books too but then I never looked at them or used them so I tossed them too! I’m RUTHLESS!

  18. Katherine 8 months ago

    I was just saying this about my DVD collection the other day! What a WASTE OF SPACE. Any tips for transferring to digital would be welcomed, Lady Smaggle!

    I go through phases of wanting to keep stuff and then having to GET IT OUT. It’s crazy, but you’re right, it’s got to go!

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      I don’t have any ‘tips’ per se but if there’s any movie or series that I want to watch I go on Netflix or hire or buy it from Apple TV… or borrow it from a friend. :-)

  19. Sharon 8 months ago

    Totally agree with the don’t buy cheap shit point. We have 3 young children and am especially becoming more aware of this now. I would much rather one good quality present from a grandparent, then multiple cheap presents to make them feel like they are giving more. It’s only jan and I’ve already tossed out all the cheap plastic toys as they’ve broken already and $2 shop books they were given at Xmas. In general I’ve pulled back on unnecessarily shopping for stuff just for the sake of it, it really is a waste and a bigger issue for the environment.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      Good on you! I just don’t let cheap junk into my house at all any more. It’s such a strain on the environment and my mental health (:-)) I just can’t.

  20. Kate 8 months ago

    I got rid of all my CDs a few years back and loaded each and every one of them onto my ipod. It took weeks. I had a lot of CDs. Just gotta work on letting go of DVDs. Not sure why I find that one so hard!! Also, I too have a Frankie collection, however, I have never picked one of them up again after reading them. Time to go me thinks…..

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      I did that years ago and lost heaps of music but I just don’t care now. Everything is so accesible and I’ve got Spotify which is amazing and all my rarer musical theatre CDs on my itunes. Love it.

  21. Aleksandra 8 months ago

    Clothing…. that’s my biggest problem :) I am pretty good on other things you described here; however, keeping a lot of clothing makes my closet look extremely tiny…
    http:www.letsgetfittonight.blogspot.com/

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 months ago

      I’m working on clothing! It’s coming up!

  22. Nicholas Maync-Matsumoto 2 months ago

    I’m a thrower, too. So, yeah, dump it is my motto.Brutally diminish and save the next generation from having to do so, thoughtlessly.

  23. LisZy BroWn 3 weeks ago

    Hmm I’m about to Graduate and My mom want to throw those “Useless” book out so that my room feel more Spacious….But I Just Can’t.
    I kno I might never read it again but I feel attachments and a sense of History , mY childhood and what I’ve been through
    It’s not the book but the Memory there :/

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