A study performed in Harvard found out that we throw away 40% of all food we purchase. While the study focused on the misreading of expiration dates, the fact that so many families ever reached an expiration date implies that we don’t really have a good grasp on what we own. Extrapolate that figure to other items with shelf life, such as toiletries and medicine, and that is never good for our bottom line.
Opening our cupboards and realizing how much stuff we have is an extra stress in our lives that we don’t really need. Realizing that there is an unopened bottle of olive oil reaching its end of life packs stress when we realize this. We immediately think what we could have better accomplished with those $10 we will probably have to throw away.
We have to take control of this situation. First things first – you have to take inventory of what you have and work from there. Have an old bag of rice? Give it to somebody who will use it. Have a bottle of pain reliever going bad soon? Give it to a friend or family member who you know will use it.
When you’ve identified what you will keep and what you will donate or give away, then the following 3 tips will help in maintaining the trend and prevent you being in a situation where you have too much stuff.
Create a ‘use me’ bin
Find an old bin somewhere and give it a new vocation. Call it the ‘use me’ bin. This bin has a job – in there, you will put anything that you’ve decided to keep and will expire soon. Keep it visible and in your face. When you open up that cupboard, make sure it is the first thing you see.
Open up your spaces once a week
What you don’t manage periodically will deteriorate. If you buy stuff and put it away, trust me – you will end up throwing some or all of it. Take charge and take inventory of what you have. For every item in there, make a decision about it: Either you keep it because it will serve a purpose before it’s end or you decide you won’t use it in time and need to do something with it. If you want to keep it and you need to use it fast, it needs to go in the ‘use me’ bin.
Do not buy so much in the first place
With big box stores like Costco, it is so easy to buy items in bulk. The stores do a great job of attracting your purchase. Every item is meticulously prepared when it comes to packaging and content. After all, it makes sense to buy a tub of Mayonnaise because it costs merely 2 times the price of a regular jar and you get 4 times more than that. But ask yourself if you will actually use the entire amount within its shelf life. If you buy and worry later, prepare yourself to probably throw away some of it eventually.
Lifecheer takeaway: Don’t buy too much to begin with. And what you do buy, manage it effectively, like a business. And what you don’t end up using for whatever reason, make a decision to either use it by consolidating it in a common place, or simply donate it or give it to somebody who will put it to good use!