Things you can throw away without guilt

We’ve all got that one drawer or cupboard full of ‘just in case’ items. What happens if you have an impromptu picnic and need the seven sets of plastic cutlery one day? What about if you decide to finally buy a new lid for that decades-old blender sitting in the kitchen cupboard?

Here’s a tip, you probably won’t.

I’m as guilty as anyone, I have a whole stack of greeting cards from people that barely say more than ‘Happy Birthday’. And don’t get me started on the box of cables I have, even though I’m not sure what any of them plug into.

There are many reasons we hang on to certain items, whether it’s practical or sentimental, but here are some you can get rid of today without feeling guilty.

In the kitchen

Appliance manuals
Most, if not all, manufacturers have necessary information online. If you forget how to use your rice cooker or want to find out more about a certain setting, it’s likely you’ll be able to read it on the internet.

Read more: Declutter your life and save

Sauce packets
You don’t need to save condiment packets from restaurants, just buy a bottle of your favourite sauce and save the little bits of plastic from the landfill.

Mismatched or warped storage containers
Match every container with its lid and keep them together. If you have glassware missing lids, you can often purchase just the lids online to make up a full set.

Check to see if any are warped or otherwise unusable. Recycle anything you can’t use.

Expired pantry items
Spices lose their potency over time and other pantry staples don’t perform as well if they’ve been left sitting open for an extended period. If you haven’t used a pantry item for six months, consider throwing it away.

In the office

Old tax paperwork
Generally, you only need to keep your records for five years from the date you lodge your tax return.

You may sometimes need to keep them for longer to cover the period of review (also known as the amendment period) for an assessment that uses information from the record.

For example, the period of review for:

  • an income tax return is generally two years for individuals and small businesses and four years for other taxpayers, from the day after you receive the notice of assessment
  • a business activity statement (BAS) is generally four years from the day after the notice of assessment is given
  • a fringe benefits tax return is generally three years from your date of lodgement.

So, if your file cabinet has documents from the ’90s, you can definitely get shredding.

Pens with no ink
Don’t put it back in the box, throw it away.

Power cords and cables
If you’re not sure what they connect to, you can get rid of them.

Old mobile phones
They’re likely outdated and just taking up space.

Last year’s calendar
People hang onto these with the intention of transferring important dates from one year to the next. You have until 31 January of the new year to complete that task, but if you take longer than that, recycle it.

Old receipts
Some receipts should be saved, especially from larger purchases or tax-deductible ones, but throw the others away.

Dated reference books
Outdated information won’t expand your horizons, so unless you use these for historical reference, pass them on. Many op shops won’t take old reference books, so look for community groups who use them for crafting and collages.

In your wardrobe

Mismatched socks
Keep a small basket for mismatched socks. After a month, if you haven’t found a match, either toss them or repurpose them as dust rags.

Read more: How to declutter the wardrobe

Eyeglasses with the wrong prescription
A simple donation of unwanted glasses can make a huge difference to someone living in less fortunate circumstances.

Check out Lions Recycle for Sight Australia for information on where you can donate your old eyewear.

Old clothing that no longer fits
Follow this rule of thumb: if it’s more than two sizes in any direction, chances are it’ll be out of style by the time it fits.

Painful shoes
Your shoes should fit, feel good and have the right look. If they don’t, donate or sell them and look out for a new pair.

Old towels and bedding
Most animal shelters will gladly accept donations of old linens.

Around the house

Sports equipment you no longer use
If you’ve promised yourself you’ll use the ab roller every day since the new year but haven’t yet removed it from the box, it’s probably time to donate it.

Do you keep hold of old runners ‘just in case’ you decide to go out for a jog? Bin them. You’re probably better off getting fitted for a new pair if you take up running again.

VHS tapes
If you have precious family memories stored on VHS, now’s the time to convert them to digital media.

All VHS tapes deteriorate over time. Even tapes stored in professional tape storage environments will still experience some deterioration, and of course the overwhelming majority of tapes are not stored in perfect environments.

So, preserve your movies and make some space at the same time.

Read more: Tech Q&A: Is it possible to digitise my old VHS videos?

Half-empty tins of paint
Wall paint can lighten or darken when stored over time so, when you eventually get around to doing that touch-up, it might not match the wall anymore.

Just take a photo of the tin so you have the exact colour and dispose of the paint properly.

Old prescriptions and medications
Check expiration dates. If it’s past its prime, contact your local pharmacy to learn about disposal options.

How many of these things do you have floating around the house? How often do you declutter? Share your tips for parting with items in the comments section below.

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Written by Ellie Baxter