January 25, 2012

Using things up

As part of my efforts to declutter, I’m going to write about my small triumphs and strategies and ordeals. Read no further unless you are fighting a similar battle…or don’t mind hearing about it.

If you are a woman in your twenties or thirties, chances are that you have a cupboard full of lotions, soaps, shower gels, bath oils,and sundry other cleansing products. Most of these probably came to you as gifts -some wanted, some unwanted – though some others may have been purchased on a drugstore whim, or acquired as a sample when purchasing some oh-so-necessary other product. Those necessities, the things one actually uses…well, those get used up right away and never delegated to the back shelf in the cupboard Where Toiletries Go to Die.

I recently cleaned out the cupboards in my bathroom (a tall order considering the size of the cupboards, which are high enough that I have to climb on top of the washer and dryer to reach the upper row), and though there was a fair number of straight-to-garbage products (see above re: toiletries dying), there was also enough left over to clean and primp and scent me for what I suspect may be a full two years. (Perhaps I exaggerate. But I doubt it.)

So now next to the tub, there are three overturned bottles of lotion. (Given that they are pump dispensers, this is no easy balancing act on the tile floor.) Two have been coaxed to give up their remaining, previously unpumpable goods and have already been completely finished and recycled. When these next ones are finished, there are still yet-unopened lotions lurking in a neat row in the cupboard. These, too, will get used, somehow. Don’t be surprised if you come over and I ask you how you feel about the scent of jasmine…

I’m lucky I live alone and there is no-one to complain about these odds and ends balanced around the bathroom. On the edge of the sink, there’s another emptying pump of antibacterial hand soap. It doesn’t look pretty, and it feels and looks like the height of parsimony. But it isn’t only thrift. I don’t want to take for granted what I have, nor do I want to waste anything. The packaging on everything makes me queasy. (I know, I know, it’s recyclable…but how recyclable? How much energy and waste goes into the recycling process itself? I need to look into this.)

I want to be free of so many of the things cluttering my apartment, but I’m a pack rat. Sometimes I have to do things the hard way when it comes to letting go. But the idea is that once everything is gone, I’m going to be oh-so-careful about what else comes in. Here’s hoping.

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