Permission to “Pitch”

Items to trashOne of the most popular categories of “tips” I give out on social media is “Permission to Pitch.” These are primarily ideas I get from working with clients… items I see pile up in many homes, or certain types of items I see people struggle to shed. If you want to clear out some clutter, but need a little positive encouragement to get the ball rolling, here is a list of “common culprits” that you can feel good about removing from your space. Of course, if they are in good shape, or able to be used by someone else, please consider donating to a worthy cause.


  • Broken holiday decorations.
  • “Free” cards from charities. It’s okay to keep a couple, but pass on the rest.
  • Clothes you don’t feel good in – regardless of who gave them to you.
  • Exercise equipment you do not use.
  • Boxes. One box of boxes is enough. Get rid of the rest.
  • Magazines you haven’t read. They are making you feel guilty – just get rid of them and start fresh.
  • Anything in your garage that has been broken for a couple of seasons.
  • Mugs. Seriously. Go recycle a few.
  • Shoe trees/plastic suit bags that you don’t use… you know, the pile in the back of the closet.
  • Kitchen appliances or gadgets you never use (bread machine, meat grinder, juicer, avocado slicer).
  • Old Encyclopedias. If you like the way they look, keep them for decoration. Most students today research online.
  • Any “free” items you’ve received… unless you love them, pass them on.
  • Old, short pencils without erasers. They fall to the bottom of a pencil cup, are hard to sharpen and can’t erase.
  • Cords & chargers for which you cannot identify a corresponding electronic.
  • “Dead” school supplies: dried out glue sticks, erasers that are more black than pink, dried out markers, broken crayons, notebooks whose spiral has sprung loose, backpacks with broken zippers, etc.
  • Fabric covers for the arms of furniture. Unless you love them, feel free to get rid of them.
  • Old purses/lunchboxes/messenger bags. If you get a new one, let the old one go.
  • Keys which you can no longer match to a lock.
  • Extra copies of invitations to old events or extra holiday cards. Keep one in a memorabilia box/scrapbook (or take a photo of it), pitch the rest.
  • Anything you consider ugly. Even if it was a gift!
  • Anything missing an essential part.
  • Spices which no longer have any scent. If you can’t smell them, you can’t taste them.
  • Items in the freezer you cannot identify.
  • Cookbooks you don’t use. If you only like one recipe in a cookbook, photocopy that page and give the book away.
  • Outdoor decorations, plants, and toys that are damaged/dirty/ugly. Don’t fill your indoor space storing them with half-hearted plans to repair them.
  • Combination locks for which you no longer remember the combination.
  • Plastic storage containers for which you cannot easily identify the matching lid.
  • Old textbooks, unless you regularly reference them. These tend to pile up if you are currently/recently in college.
  • Fodor’s/Zagats that are more than 5 years old.
  • Old road maps (not antiques, just old ones). Old maps may contain incorrect information, and if you have a GPS option, you will probably use that anyway.

Making space in our lives for the items we regularly use or enjoy looking at is a task worth undertaking. Can you think of anything to add to this list?

34 thoughts on “Permission to “Pitch””

  1. That’s a pretty thorough list! The broken ornaments – it’s hard for me. My husband is the Purge Master. I am somewhere in the middle of that and being a tad too sentimental. Lately, I’m learning to throw away the clothes, toys and books that I have never used, and never will.

    1. Ornaments carry a lot of emotional significance, so I totally understand, Tamara. At the same time, if it is too broken to use, then you aren’t getting to enjoy it because you can’t see it.. just a thought! Sounds like you are doing pretty well with the other stuff…way to go with the books – the ultimate reusable item!

  2. We discovered several broken ornaments in getting the Christmas decorations out this year, and as hard as it was for me, I was proud of myself for tossing them and not packing them back up with the other ornaments. They really were beyond repair.

    1. It is hard, Sarah. And its important to acknowledge that. I had one this year that was quite sentimental, but made of a dough that had rotted. I took a photo of it for memory’s sake and threw it away. It happens with many things, so good for you making the tough call!

  3. Gaahh, I think I’ve been doing pretty well with this stuff. The hardest for me to give up before were the clothes, but really if they lasted several years without me wearing them then I’d just give them away or recycle them as rags. I can certainly say that we’ve had less clutter since I decided to do that. 🙂 Agree with all those books and magazines, they can really pile up!

    1. We all have an item or two that we struggle to let go of! Sounds like tackling the clothes has made a big difference for you, Rea, so way to go:) Sometimes just taking one step to shed an item we’ve been resisting can get the ball moving. I do think it gets easier once we start.

  4. Hahahaa Seana!! I ALWAYS love your list and you are so reading my mind!! I refuse to be one of the stars on “Hoarders”, so I make sure I’m chunkin’ every chance I get, lol! Too funny, but so true about the spices…”if you can’t smell them, you can’t taste them”! Lol! 🙂 Have a good one my friend!!

    1. Definitely some mutual admiration going on here, Michell! I’m always amazed by the quantity of “stuff” that comes into our lives every day. Being diligent about moving things along is the only way, right? Have a warm & safe day!

    1. Ah yes, Janine… the ongoing march of the toys! That is a great addition to the list. I finally asked the grandparents to please stop sending stuffed animals because we were simply bursting:)

  5. I’m just WAITING for the day I can give away every last bit of baby junk. 🙂 In the meantime, I’m working on whittling down the kids’ book collection.

    1. It is a very freeing feeling when you know you are officially “past” a child’s stage and can start culling. Amazing how much stuff those little guys need, isn’t it? But working on the kids books is a great idea, Nancy!

  6. I was just thinking why would someone want to keep broken ornaments but I guess they could be make a new ornament out of it or something depending on how creative the person is. I don’t know..I throw mostly all things out. I don’t keep anything. I also freely give things away always. That whole try to sell your stuff at the thrift store just doesn’t feel right to me. I’d rather put my clothes (even if I like them sometimes) in a clothing bin where people who need them can get them free. 🙂

    1. I think sometimes people feel great sentimental attachment to an old ornament (or other object) that has broken. I always suggest taking a photo if it means that much to you… good for you getting rid of stuff you don’t want! For some people it is quite a struggle. Giving objects away is a great way to help those who are in a pinch, isn’t it?

    1. What better place to start than cookbooks?? Seriously, that could free up some real space.. and then that builds momentum and who knows where you will stop:) Good luck, Amy!

    1. Because mugs and books make such great gifts, those are 2 items I’m pretty much regularly needing to cull through. I’m with you, Melissa – the clutter stresses me out (just ask my kids!)

    1. Thanks Chris! My tagline is “freedom through organization” because I think clearing out the unnecessary and unwanted is so freeing– wishing you that wonderful feeling!

  7. Throwing out things you don’t need anymore is such a great way to relieve stress and help declutter not just your home but your life! When we moved this summer it was a great reason to sort through and discard or donate a LOT of stuff!!

    1. Times of moving/relocation are the PERFECT time to get rid of items we no longer need, Angela… that was so smart. And I bet it was freeing, wasn’t it? Of course, sometimes we are so busy with the long “to do” list at the time of a move that we just throw stuff in boxes and move it to the new location. Glad you had the chance to donate & discard:) I agree that it really does reduce the stress level to get rid of stuff!

    1. Spices are expensive, so I don’t believe you need to pitch them every year… but there is a limit. I’m smiling at your comment:) If we are honest, we all have something we can get rid of, right?

  8. Oh, Seana… I just LOVE this “Permission to Pitch” list! It’s priceless and so specific, which is great. My personal favorite: “Old, short pencils without erasers.” What you’re really doing here is helping to set up parameters around letting go. So rather than having to dig deep for every decision, some choices are established in advance. It’s takes some of the stress and decision-fatique out of the editing process.

    1. That’s exactly what I was thinking, Linda. We don’t need to bemoan every little decision — some of them should be easy, and this is a starting list. Thanks for the affirming comment!!

    1. Agree, Jessica, some of the travel stuff is really memorabilia… items we keep to recall fun excursions or events. These can go in a bin or book for sure. The reason I say get rid of older travel books is that hotels & restaurants can change a lot in 5+ years, so it isn’t necessarily good to assume that a restaurant from many years ago will still provide a quality experience. This can also be true with maps, although less so for very old cities (where streets rarely change!). But even if a particular kind of “stuff” seems hard to part with (for personal or professional reasons), there may be some other category where letting go is easier. Start with what’s easy, right?

    1. And spending VERY hard-earned money to give ourselves guilt is no fun, right Kelly? The whole purpose of the stuff is to improve the quality of life, not detract from it:)

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