Saturday, January 15, 2011

Use It Up

For years now I've been on a quest to both simplify and organize my life.  And I'm always looking for new ways to do it.  Just after Thanksgiving this past year, I realized I had accumulated a stash of various napkins from previous holidays and celebrations.  As these napkins take up space in my house, I decided that I was going to use them up rather than keep them in storage where they end up forgotten and new ones purchased for other occasions.  

As I pulled out the napkins to put them in a place where they would be used up, I realized I need to apply the same concept to other areas of my life.  Toiletries and cosmetics, for example.  Years ago I saved travel-sized items for future trips as these sizes were hard to come by.  However, now these products are readily available at drugstores and discount stores.  I also realized I accumulate food items.  Often I discover a recipe, realize I need a new ingredient, purchase that ingredient, and then either lose the recipe or run out of time to make the dish.  I also have stocked up on pantry staples, such as dried beans and rice, that end up being pushed aside in favor of a more convenient alternative. 

So I've begun a "use it up" plan.  I'm going to start using up the odds and ends around my house. My goal is to not purchase an item if I have a suitable product or substitute on hand.  Thus, when my shampoo bottle is empty, I'll start using the "hotel" shampoos.  If we run out of bread, I'll use my bread machine and the ingredients I have on hand to make my own.  Looking in my cupboards, pantry, and freezer, I think that I won't need to do much grocery shopping for the foreseeable future.  Of course, I will make exceptions for the following:  fresh salad ingredients (but not dressing as I have the ingredients to make my own); coffee; milk (for my husband's coffee); tea; and items that my adult children eat when they are home from college.  

This project will help me in a variety of ways.  I will simplify and organize my house as I'll have fewer things to store and care for.  I will also simplify my time as I won't need to dash to the grocery store when I run out of something.  A side benefit of this is that I'll be saving money since I won't be shopping as often.  Once I feel I've depleted everything, I'll then take stock of what we really need and use, and will only buy one backup item for those items in use.  I already do this for a lot of products and I'll extend it to other areas as well.  I'm looking forward to having a little more "room to breathe."

Now the problem is books.  I own a lot of books I haven't read yet.  Does this mean I have to read all the books in my house before I can buy more?


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

Books have been an issue with me lately. My rule was that I would buy if the library did not have a copy (+ I still check the library first) but then I'm in a thrift store + they have a book on my "to read" list for $1, so the thinking is, it's soooo inexpensive, I'll read it + then donate it to the library book sale so it's a win-win. I'm sure you can figure out the flaw in that plan...the book sits in the pile.

Recently I went through the stack that has been sitting around for a loooooong time, went through the library website + when I got a match I donated the book. I figured if I REALLY wanted to read it in the future I would borrow from the library.

As for spices, I just went through + did the clean-out. I found several that turned solid- OUT!

I have a few friends within my social circle whom I trade food with. One friend I e-mail a list of items I know I won't use anytime soon + she'll responded with what she could use immediately, and it works both ways. I buy so much bulk + at the time filling a bag seems like a good idea, but then maybe I can't use 2# of garbanzo beans, but my friend makes a lot of hummus- so it works out.

WOW! My comment is almost as long as your post.

Lisa Sharp said...

I need to do this as well! I really need to do it with food, cleaners (because I have gotten so many to review), and personal care products (also because I have gotten so many to review).

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

And then what do I go and do this afternoon? Buy 2 books (one at the thrift store + one from the 75% off table at B&N, where my book club met this afternoon).

Deanna said...

I need to do this, too. Especially since I cannot fit another thing into either of my freezers! I have a huge supply of those little shampoos, conditioners, soaps and lotions from our travels but instead of using them myself (I try to stick to more natural products) I am taking mine to our local youth shelter. When I asked them what sort of things they could use that was what they mentioned. Just a thought in case you have some you don't really care for.

Cherie said...

Shona - you are sooo funny! I know I'll do the same thing - I just cannot resist books.

Lisa - I forgot to mention cleaning products; thanks for reminding me.

Deanna - I try to stick to natural products as much as possible as well. I know our local food bank hands out small toiletries so I might just donate our excess.

LRS4AMANDA said...

Hi Cherie,

It's funny because I am in the midst of doing the exact same thing. The last week I've been trying to use up the food I have in the freezer & cupboards before I buy more. (cleaning stuff too) I think it's partly because of a new year and also I was so burnt out from Christmas shopping/spending that I'm trying to cut back!


Cherie said...

Linda, I think most people love the idea of a new year/fresh start. That's why I do quarterly goals - I get four fresh starts!

wepurpose said...


Great call on the use it up plan. I've been doing something similar and I agree with everything you said. Regarding books here's what worked for me. I use Amazon to sell my used books. Amazon is great because unlike other sites there is no fee to post an item for sale and you're choosing the item you have for sale from their catalog so you don't have to take a picture or write a description or put much effort to post it. The items are active for 60 days and then they expire. If you want you can re-list them. What I like about it is that I decided that if I would put all my unreads up for sale. If I decided to start reading one of the books I had listed for sale I'd just cancel the listing. When a book sold if I thought I still wanted to read it someday I just put it on a reading list (also maintained on Amazon so I can access it anywhere). What I found is that getting money for those unread books made it easier to part with them. If I really want to read something I'll do it. I'll go to the library to get it. But as Bea said, let go of those unfinished projects. For me, that's exactly what a lot of those unread books represented. My failure to finish the project. When I let go of the books I let go of that feeling of obligation.

Cherie said...

Wepurpose - thanks for the tips on using Amazon. It's something I need to seriously consider. I recently realized that I really only need a handful of books waiting in the wings - and it makes it more likely that I will read them.