Mar 7, 2011

A Reader's Advice on Decluttering

Last month, I mentioned that I have been decluttering like crazy and listed some of the items I'd gotten rid of. Reader Harvey emailed me with a few good points that I wanted to share:

On expired medication, he said:
I hope that you removed your name from the label leaving the description of the medication intact and then returned it to a pharmacy. Pharmacies are supposed to accept expired medicine as they have procedures for proper disposal. These medicines just cannot be thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet as they will eventually get into our water supply and food supply.
I didn't know this! I'll do this from now on.

On expired food, he said:
Expired food is still good - unless it is spoiled (bulging can and jar tops, "pasta bugs" in the pasta, etc. It appears that in the past you liked to shop (probably for bargains on sale) but then you did not make a concerted effort to eat what you bought. Unfortunately, food pantries don't normally take donations of past the use-by date food. I would have used it up. I just used a can of soup
that was several years expired and it still tasted fine and I am still here to write you this e-mail.
And on food we're unlikely to eat, he said:
Again, the product of buying something on sale, I would assume. You should challenge yourself to use up all your food on a regular basis.

I like to buy bargains - with coupons - and I like saving money. Sometimes, that becomes just a thrilling recreation. I know that if I were a compulsive bargain hunter, I would probably develop a close relationship with my local food bank. If I could buy several hundred dollars of food for a few dollars, it would all go to the food bank. Then I would make a tuna salad sandwich using up one of the cans tuna of my two year supply in the cupboard.
I can't remember exactly what food I tossed, but a lot of it comes down to now using up what's in my pantry. After decluttering, I'm more aware of what's on hand, and I can make a more concerted effort to use what we have before it expires. But I do need a better system for keeping track of what I have on hand - the rotating-old-food-to-the-front thing just doesn't work for me!

I actually end up sharing a lot of food bargains with friends, and sending non-perishable convenience food via

Thanks for these insightful tips, Harvey!

I'm not done yet - I'll have more on decluttering later this week!


Camille said...

I always wondered what to do with expired medicine. I felt awful throwing them away b/c I knew it was dangerous. Thanks, Harvey!

Susan T said...

In Manhattan Beach, CA, the city has a drop off box in one location- I think it is near city hall? but it is run by the city and it is to put expired medications in and they will recycle it for you.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Susan - Hm, I don't know of any place like that in the Valley but I'll take a look, thanks!