Last week, I wrote about things that you should own by age 30. To be clear, the word “should” doesn’t mean that you I think MUST go out and buy all of those things. It doesn’t mean that if you don’t own those things, you’re less of an adult. And it certainly wasn’t meant as a rulebook by which one must live. The article was not written to be shaming or condescending in any way, but rather as a helpful list of items that might make your life easier — and possibly help feel better. Personally speaking, there was a great satisfaction in trading in my $20 CVS hairdryer for a more expensive product from Sephora. I feel good when I cook with my crock-pot. And I take pride in using my set of high-end chef’s knives. It doesn’t make me materialistic or obsessed with consumption; it’s okay to enjoy things sometimes without feeling bad about it. Alternatively, if that’s not your style, that’s okay too.
In the same vein, as we round the corner from one decade into another and head into our thirties, it feels good to downsize. To throw away clutter, to donate things that are no longer used, and to focus on the essentials. There’s a reason why “spring cleaning” feels so productive — you end up feeling like you’re purging your whole life of excess. Throwing away those old socks with holes in them can somehow feel representative of something so much bigger. It’s a form of therapy.
In the spirit of turning over a new leaf, here are 30 things that you might consider throwing away or donating as you turn 30 (although, TBH, you could do it at any age).
1. Clothes that don’t fit anymore.
We all make the same excuse that sounds a lot like “well maybe someday.” Sometimes your brain needs a little tough love when it comes to getting rid of ill-fitting clothes. Tell yourself, “I will never wear this again,” and send those flared jeans over to Goodwill.
2. Excessive memorabilia that’s floating around inside boxes.
If you’re inherently nostalgic, you might be reluctant to throw away those concert tickets from your first date with your S.O. I get it — I have stacks of journals in my parents’ house from high school. But if your memorabilia is taking up too much space, consider getting rid of what you’re willing to part with, and put the rest into a scrapbook.
3. CDs –- and DVDs, if you no longer have a DVD player.
The only place I still keep CDs is in my car, as I drive a 2005 Jeep that has a CD function. But there is almost no place for CDs anymore; get all that good stuff on your laptop or iPod and move on. If you’ve switched from DVD/Blu-Ray to streaming, it’s time to retire that ugly DVD rack that’s probably collecting dust in the corner of your living room.
4. Copious amounts of shot glasses.
Yeah, that shot glass you bought while in Cancun on spring break? The one with the little clay palm tree attached to the front? See ya. It’s time.
5. And coffee mugs.
Even the biggest coffee addicts can probably part with at least a handful of mugs. Like shot glasses, mugs are a good keepsake from vacations –- but they also take up a lot of space. Be ruthless in choosing your favorites.
6. Old makeup products.
If it has expired (gross) or you haven’t worn it in years (like that baby blue eyeshadow in the back of your makeup bag), give it the ol’ heave-ho.
7. Jewelry you don’t wear.
Jewelry is a clutter-causing problem in its own right. Even if you have a good system for organizing your jewelry, chances are that you have too much of it. Get rid of what you don’t wear.
8. Your very first kitchen tools.
I know that you might feel a little sentimental about your very first rolling pin, but if you have duplicates of tools, or if they’re gross and falling apart, say goodbye.
9. Books that you will never, ever read again.
Like clothes, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what you might utilize in the future. Considering that many of us get our books electronically these days, there really isn’t any reason to have an arsenal of novels that will never be taken off the shelf. You can donate books, and there’s always the library!
10. Old electronic devices.
Meaning, your old laptop, your old iPhone, that Blackberry, and your flip phone. You can actually get money for these, so what are you waiting for?!
11. Mail that you no longer need.
Did you pay that bill already? Rip it up! Also, take five minutes to notify companies whose bills you pay online that you no longer want to receive paper statements. It’s better for the environment, and you’ll appreciate not having the excess paper. Speaking of paper…
12. Tax forms from years gone by.
Unless, of course, you’re running for president. Sorry. Had to. 😉
13. Flimsy hangers that you received from the dry cleaners.
I know it’s convenient to use these hangers, because it feels like you got them for free, but sturdier ones are better for your clothes — especially tops with delicate necklines.
14. Bras or underwear that you haven’t worn in eons.
I’m talking about those sad bras that are no longer comfortable, or the pairs of underwear that you’ve had forever. Trade ‘em in — you’ll have more space in your drawer!
15. Purses or wallets that don’t get any action.
Those purses that haven’t seen the light of day since Obama’s first term? Donate them and make room for new bags.
16. Pens that don’t work anymore.
Omg, throw those away. There’s not even a good excuse for this one.
I’m guilty of this one because I always say to myself, “Maybe I’ll make a collage with this.” Try to guess how many collages I’ve made in the past year. The number is less than 1. Recycle these puppies!
18. Take-out menus.
If the thought of throwing away your take-out menus is causing you to break out in hives, then decide on one or two that you MUST keep. And then throw the rest of them out. Because all of those menus are online and you can just look everything up on your phone.
19. Expired food.
Take some time to go through your cabinets or pantry. Throw away all cans or boxes of things that are expired — you’ll be amazed by how much room you have afterwards.
20. Expired medicine.
Same goes for medicine. There really isn’t any purpose in keeping that fuzzy bottle of Tums that expired five years ago.
21. Old towels or bedding.
Towels should be swapped out every couple of years (and washed regularly, of course), so make sure you’re staying up to date. And if you have a lot of extra linens that never seem to find their way into your rotation, send them packing.
22. Outdated technology.
If you still have cords for old electronic products, or even…gulp…VHS tapes, just get rid of ‘em. Unless you have a time machine located in your living room, you’re not going back to the ‘90s anytime soon –- no matter how much you love your choker necklaces.
23. And unnecessary technology.
Between my husband and I, we realized we had way too many iPhone chargers and earbuds. If you’re in that kind of situation, find another home for your duplicates.
24. Kitchen supplies that you just don’t need.
We’ve all had that moment when we become convinced that we need a pizza stone, or that our lives will not be the same if we don’t have a juicer. But if you have a kitchen appliance that you’ve used only once or twice, think about getting rid of it. Bonus: if it’s barely used, you might be able to sell it.
25. Extra keys.
If you have to ask, “Where does this key go?” there’s only one answer: the trash.
26. Old birthday cards or wedding Save-the-Dates.
Like the memorabilia one, if you can’t find a home for these inside a scrapbook, recycle them.
27. Also: pretty much anything excessive on your fridge.
Decide how many things you’re going to attach to your fridge, including magnets. Make that number five or under. Then get rid of the rest.
28. Winter accessories that you don’t ever wear.
Like those scarves that you haven’t worn since college, or that hat that makes your head look weird. Bye!
29. And summertime ones, too.
Sunglasses, bathing suits, cover ups, beach towels — if they haven’t gotten use in the past season, just break up with them.
30. Everything. Inside. Your. Junk. Drawer.
Do it right now. Open up your junk drawer and show no mercy. Make Schmidt on New Girl proud.
De is a New Yorker turned Bostonian and a lover of all things theatrical. In addition to writing, she is an actress/singer/dancer/teacher and owner of the fluffiest cat imaginable. She is on Twitter.
Image via Unsplash