Mini Mission Monday ~ Perishables

Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It takes the guess work out of decluttering and makes it easy and “fun” for you to achieve some quick decluttering.

This week the mini missions are based around things that perish when not used for a long time. So even if you think you “might need these things someday” it may turn out the someday is too far away and the items will only be good for the garbage can by the time you get around to using them. Best that you limit the number when purchasing certain things, pass on the things you have too many off that are likely to perish and just accept the fact that some of the things you reduce in number now will just have to be replaced later.

Monday – Today I suggest you do a pen round-up. All pens have ink that can dry up over time so it is best to limit the number you keep on hand. Donate the excess to your local school, take them to your workplace to use them up or offer them to friends or family who might be running short. Even your local post office or bank, whose pens go walk-about on a regular basis, might appreciate your generosity.

TuesdayAnything with elastic. In my underwear drawers there are always those couple of old bras, pairs of knickers, socks and stockings that only get used on the rare occasion that the ones I prefer to wear run out. On more than one occasion I have encountered the problem that these spare pairs are no longer useable because the elastic has perished during their lack of use. I have found the same problem in my sewing kit, the stationery drawer (rubber bands) and even among the sports gear (swimming goggles, elasticised shin pads, support bandages). So with elastic it is truly a case of use it or lose it.

WednesdayFood. This one is a no-brainer really. Even less perishable food has some sort of used by date. So if you have something in the pantry or freezer that hasn’t been used in a long time find a recipe to use it up on. You never know you might just stumble upon a recipe that will end up in your regular rotation this way.

ThursdayFabrics. Any item made from light coloured fabric that have been used against your body at some point can be prone to yellowing from the body acids that aren’t completely washed out during the laundering process. Old wedding dresses are a fine example of this. The acids can even perish the fabrics and weaken them. I also find that old sheets that haven’t been used can get quite a rancid smell about them when not washed regularly. So declutter old clothes that you have worn before but now never use and if you have an over abundance of sheets in your linen closet make sure you rotate them on a regular basis.

FridayElectrical appliances. Like anything else on this list these items will wear out from being used but at least then you will have gotten your money’s worth out of them. Having left electrical items in storage when we moved to America and then coming home to find they no longer worked I know for sure that it is a reality the they don’t like sitting idle for too long.

This hand cream has been around for a little too long I feel. I will use it up as a lubricant when shaving my legs.

This hand cream has been around for a little too long I feel. I will use it up as a lubricant when shaving my legs.

SaturdayMake-up and medicines (pills, ointments, antiseptic etc). Both these items are made from substances that perish over time. Although medicines will usually have a used by date some cosmetic don’t. Either way you need to do a regular declutter of, what is or what you believe to be, out of date products in your medicine cabinet, your first-aid box and your make-up kit. (Read here for advice on used by dates for make-up)

Sunday - Sunday is reserved for contemplating one particular item of your choice that is proving difficult for you to declutter. Whether that be for sentimental reasons, practical reasons, because the task is laborious or simply unpleasant, or because the items removal requires the cooperation of another person. That last category may mean that the item belongs to someone else who has to give their approval, it could also mean there is a joint decision to be made or it could mean that the task of removing it requires assistance from someone else. There is no need to act on this contemplation immediately, it is more about formulating a plan to act upon or simply making a decision one way or another.

Good luck and happy decluttering

Eco Tip for the Day

Choose products to use and use them up before replacing them with something else. Unless of course you are allergic or they are having some other detrimental effect. Waste is waste no matter what form it comes in and having too much variety on hand is a sure fire way of things getting perished and require throwing out.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Hi Colleen!
    I really like this week’s mini missions. I’ve been on a whim this weekend and will make a trip to the thrift store tomorrow. I’ll donate all the books that haven’t sold yet, excess decks of cards – and elastics from my sewing kit. It’s quite a lot actually -that will free some space! 🙂

    One of the things I’m really happy about is that these stacks of little everyday items like pens, lighters/matches, candles, etc. have mostly vanished meanwhile. These items are useful and little and I think almost everyone has stacks of them, but in sum they took up a lot of space – I had a little drawer only for candles, a little drawer full of unused postcards and so on and so on. Really you don’t need to have that many at hand and I’m happy for having realized that!

    • Sanna, I’m totally with you on the little things! Sometimes when I felt like decluttering but could not bring myself to some bigger decisions I took a handful of pens, an unused notebook out of my too big stack of notebooks to use some day, a bottle of nail polish, some lighters or something like that and took it with me to the office, put it in the kitchen there with a “free” sign and let someone else have it. Or put some random items in a “free” box outside. Having done that many times over the past two years the effect is starting to show. I got some stunned reactions because these little things are useful and even used in my household. But I figured that should I need to buy more candles, paper napkins, cocktail straws, lighters, pens, envelopes, etc. at one point in the future the years of well closing drawers where you actually can find things will have been worth the relatively small expense that lies ahead of me.

      • Exactly!
        I know what you mean about getting strange looks for giving away pencils, pens, thread etc.
        But then I really don’t need that many and spacious drawers feel just good. 🙂

    • How right you are Sanna, these things don’t take up much space each but in multitudes they soon add up to a lot of wasted space. Sometimes a lot of aspiration as well and that is the really insidious part. Not to mention the burning need we all seem to have these days of having things on hand in case we need them. I think that idea deserves a post of its own.

      Well done on your weekend decluttering effort Sanna. I had a little clean up of dusty stuff in my garage. I didn’t get rid of all that I would like to but what I did would have taken up at least a square foot and that is something.

      • I guess part of it is those packs they come in – sometimes dozens, sometimes even hundreds, that make you feel as if it was normal to stack those things.
        Of course it is handy to have an envelope at hand, but really I send at most 15 letters a year, so there’s no sense in stacking 150 envelopes – that’d last for more than ten years!

  2. Great mini missions this week. I had to get rid of a lot of pens, markers, etc. at the beginning of the school year because many had dried up. It is a good time to go back thru them again. You must have been reading my mind too, as I went thru the medicine box and makeup this past week. It always seems to happen when I am looking for something and I realize that it is worth the time to declutter the items since I was looking for something anyway. I have learned my lesson concerning elastic materials in clothing too. I had a bathing suit that I loved and it lasted well over three years. I was very careful with it when I washed it, too, as I was hoping that the lifespan on it would be longer than usual. It was in my dresser drawer and I packed it for a trip in the hopes that I could get a swim in at a hotel and at my friend’s house. I was sorely disappointed that once I put it on, having not used it all winter, to find that the elastic was totally gone and the suit was a goner.

    Love the eco tip this week too. Definitely having too many items on hand may seem smart at first, but when you go to use them, just to find out that they are not usable anymore can be frustrating. Better to use it up! Oh, I made another trip to the donation center on Saturday. I donated one garbage bag that was literally bursting at the seams and two board games that were not in use anymore. It is truly liberating!

    • Hi Jen,
      isn’t it interesting how some products, although much the same, last better than others. Your swimsuit for instance. I have a swimsuit that, up until recently, had been used very infrequently. I bought it maybe in 2007 but it could have been earlier than that. I had used it about half a dozen times only in all that time. My husband and I have recently taken up swimming in the surf and I was surprised to find the swimsuit’s elastic was still in good order. On the other hand I have had sofas in storage at different times for shorter period whose elasticised seat webbing had given out completely. Same for elastic in my sewing kit. Quite inconsistent really.

      • It really is inconsistent, sometimes you never know what you are getting. I am thankful for the internet because at least there you can usually find reviews on most items these days which helps to make a purchasing decision easier.

  3. Talking about things that perish over time, my husband bought a pair of bushwalking shoes but kept them for a long time without using them. He used them on a hard and rugged one day walk and the soles came off! The glue had deteriorated with time. He had to finish the walk in socks!

  4. As the child of parents who lived through the depression as young people I can understand why older people in that situation feel more secure if they have one or more “spares” on hand. This attitude somehow passed itself down to me and certainly when I was a child the shopping hours were much less than they are now so it was often a matter of convenience to have an extra whatever. However I have definitely realised that no matter the situation I only need one (or one set) of an item and if it breaks or gets used up it is usually just a short trip to get that replacement. Of course living in the country is slightly different but in that case one spare not many will be sufficient.

  5. I do the ink test with markers and highlighters too. They get dry over time as well. Great ideas of areas to focus on. Thanks for your continuous motivation! Have a great day!

  6. Here in Arizona things deteriorate even faster than other areas of the country because of the dryness and the heat. It is weird to have something hanging on the wall and a piece falls off because the glue has dried up. Because of this I have become much more careful about buying adhesives, elastics, markers, etc.

    Good mini-missions. Most of this I don’t have to worry about because we have really been decluttering stuff like this. I am trying to educate Mom on this like a drawer full of various bindings and cloth tapes for sewing that we have moved around the country for the last 25 years or more. She just keeps hanging to some things. I know that in time they will go. I just have to be patient.

  7. While we are doing perishables, why not look at cosmetics and toiletries as well? In particular, because of the risk of contamination, eye products are usually only safe for three months, and fondations and other make-up liquids for 12 months.

    I woke up one day last year and I am ashamed to say that while I couldn’t find any body lotion I found 22 bottles of shower gel, 23 bars of soap and 14 tubes of hand cream stached all over the house. Not to mention all the bath, hair, face and foot care products. And makeup. And perfume. And pet care…

    • Hi Alex, cosmetics and medicine are Saturdays mini mission and feature regularly in the mission because as you say they do perish over time. I have added a link to a website which gives advice on how long you should keep certain make-up items for.

      I personally returned some pain meds to my local pharmacy this week for disposal because most of them weren’t use and the used by date had expired. Once upon a time the advice was to flush them down the toilet but that is not longer the case.

    • Hi Alex,
      Hahahaha sorry but I just couldn’t help but laugh at this one. That is so me! Or was me, for some reason I would stock up on things and have them all over the house and use them all over the house, and inevitably lose them all over the house. I had a big thing of stocking up on what I use a lot of like, washing powder, softeners, loo rolls, deodorants, body sprays and shower goodies. Honestly it went on and on. Nothing like a tap leaking down the back of your laundry cupboard and same in a bathroom, or your washer flooding and ruining anything you have stored on the bottom shelf of your cupboard. Very painful to be throwing out a lot of stuff that perished. Now I am 365 Wiser and buy 365 Fewer things. Hahaha boy I have learned a lot along my 365 path! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Good for you dizzy, so have I. Although I am often doling out the advice I sometimes have learned it the hard way myself. Learning from experiences good or bad is growth and that’s what makes us a little bit smarter.


  1. […] two comments, from Sanna and Ideealistin, kicked of the responses to yesterdays Mini Mission post.  They make a great point […]