Weekend Assignment: What’s Expired In Your Space?

July 23, 2015

If you had any idea how many expired products are taking up significant space in people’s homes, your reaction would probably be to never buy anything again. Maybe. Or, you’d just be like, “Oh wow, that’s a lot.”

Even though there is certainly a balance that must be reached when it comes to carrying a load of sentimental or hypothetical items, at least those things have some basis in thought. Expired products, on the other hand, sit around for years without your giving them a minute’s consideration. You don’t have ties to them; you don’t ever make the time to revise them.

What harm are those vitamins doing, you ask? Who’s got time to think about tea bag freshness?

Since every single thing you own is part of the load you carry, those vitamins and tea bags are as important as that swing set, as it turns out.

Simplify your life one weekend assignment at a time!

And thus, I hereby decree that this weekend’s assignment shall be the checking out of your household products’ expiration dates.

I’ll let you in on a little secret about this assignment, though: it isn’t really about expiration dates at all. At least, not in most cases. And not as in how expiration dates do or do not reflect whether the item in question is past its prime. (Because it isn’t about the thing, it’s about you. Like always.)

No, checking out the expiration dates on things like pantry goods, vitamins and so forth is merely a tool. It’s a tangible demonstration of how long something has been sitting around in your life. Whereas the question, “How long ago did I last wear this sweater?” warrants a “I dunno…3 months ago?” at best, expiration dates are definitive.

There’s almost always a reason why anything in your house has expired, and it’s usually not just that your space was cluttered and you couldn’t find it. Rather, it’s that you changed your habits, your preferences, your tastes, and so on, but didn’t pull the trigger on letting go of the products because in the moment you were changing your mind, you didn’t know whether the change would stick.

When you bought that new face moisturizer a year and a half ago, you didn’t yet know you would fall in love with it and never go back to the one you had been using previously. So the old moisturizer got pushed to the back, perfectly good, as it was. Only now, looking at the month-mark on the bottle, you realize that it’s been long enough that you’ll never return to the old guy and it’s time to move on.

Or, you discover that your pantry has about two dozen boxes of cake mixes purchased three years ago. The reason why they’ve been hanging out in there for this long? You went gluten-free two and half years ago. So, whether the mixes are truly expired or not, they’re expired for you.

Outdated expiration dates are a winning tool for helping you pull the trigger of letting go, where you might otherwise hold onto things unnecessarily.

We all on the same page now? Great. Then here’s a short list of categories to tackle:

– Vitamins

– Medicines

– Food

  • Pantry/ Dry goods
  • Fridge and freezer contents

– Cosmetics (give special attention to sunblock, which definitely expires).

If you’re really on a roll, you can extend the assignment to things like:

– Household paints

– Some cleaning supplies (things like wipes may have dried out, etc.)


Get to it, good luck, report back, etc. etc.

Image credit: BHG

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