using up

One of the most satisfying feelings in the world is using something up. Long term things. Big things. Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t get a thrill when we run out of milk. At that point I think, “Ugh. I should’ve gotten more milk.” I’m talking about that pair of jeans you’ve had forever or the industrial sized bottle of shampoo or that ream of paper that you thought would run out months ago.

Why is this joyful? Because of what it represents. It represents finishing something. It means that, instead of running out and spending money, you finished what you already had. Using up an older item represents money saved, time saved, and waste avoided.

Some folks get a thrill from holding something brand new and shiny. I enjoy that feeling from time to time – when it’s an item I really need or have wanted for a long time – but the bittersweet joy of getting rid of something that has truly served its purpose is even better.

Disposing of the Used Up

Of course, once you’ve used something up there’s the question of how to best dispose of it. One of the points of keeping something until the bitter end is to avoid waste. Obviously, some things will just need to be thrown away, but whenever we can avoid this, we should. Some containers are recyclable; check with your local recycling folks. Other items can be repurposed and go on to new ways of usefulness. I’ve included a few examples below, but I’d love to hear about the ways you reuse items that have come to the end of their original purpose.


Jeans are a great example of something that can live on. Denim is a pretty durable material. If the jeans are truly beyond repair for wearing, check out some of these other uses! Cut up old towels and use them for cleaning cloths. Donate old towels or blankets to animal shelters to keep those little guys cuddly while they wait for their forever homes. What are some of the ways you use fabric scraps?


A newly-emptied container presents a whole new issue. You’ll have to throw some of them away (boo.) Some will be recyclable. If you’re trying to declutter, these will probably be your top choices. A few might go on to a new life as a food storage vessel. If you’re feeling crafty, you can pretty them up for any number of purposes. Paper or clay can be simple ways to dress up an empty jar or can. Get creative!

Fabric and containers are the two biggest by-products of using up. What are some others that you’ve ended up with and how have you repurposed them?

As you continue on your path to a simpler, richer life using up what you’ve already got will be a huge step. Eliminating the urge to run out and buy something new when you have serviceable items at home will equal more money in your pocket, more time for something you really want to do, and less waste burying our planet. Hop over to Facebook and share some of your “using up” victories!