hands holding yellow plastic bag

Five things I know you have too many of

My psychic powers are about as reliable as the magic 8 ball but I’ll put good money that you have at least one of the following five things in your home. Maybe even more than one.

Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons

Everyone I’ve ever worked with has handfuls of these coupons. They never expire. Few clients say they buy anything at Bed, Bath & Beyond, but the lure of those coupons is seemingly irresistible. How many Bed Bath & Beyond coupons do you have? Plan a trip to the store this month or toss them in the recycling. Check your mail, there’ll be plenty more where those came from.

Bag(s) of bags

Many a doorknob holds a flimsy grocery store plastic bag stuffed to the gills with more flimsy grocery store bags. It’s a good idea to keep some of these useful bags in reserve, but how many is enough? Clutter math says if you go to the store twice a week and get 20 bags each time, you get 40 new bags a week. Does your dog poop 40 times a week? It might feel like that when you’re picking up poop but it’s probably more like 21 times a week. Think about what you use those plastic bags for and check whether keeping them is just a habit you’ve gotten into. Keeping a few extra bags on hand makes sense, but how many bags of bags do you need to hold onto?

Recyclable grocery bags

Everyone has at least twenty cloth grocery bags. Rarely kept in the car, these bags are treasured but almost never used. Haul out all your reusable bags and choose your favorites. Keep what feels like enough in your car and see if you find yourself using them. If you don’t, they’re handy for collecting things you’re going to declutter. You can drop the items off in the bag.

Film canisters

Remember film cameras? The film came in a small plastic canister which is highly prized by many. Future uses include saving baby teeth in, and using as pill boxes. How many empty film canisters are rattling around your place? Have you used them yet or are they languishing unused while you use other things to contain your tiny items?


The piles of magazines sometimes topple over, but they all look so inviting. How many magazines have you had for over three months?

READ MORE >>> Decluttering magazines

Three things I bet you don’t have enough of

As an organizer, I’ve come to realize that almost every space could benefit from more of a few crucial items.

Wastepaper baskets and trash cans

There should be at least one in every single room in your house and often more than one. Any chair or table where you regularly spend time needs its own decent sized trash can. There are all sorts of pretty choices available, but the main criteria is the trash can is bigger than a toilet roll. Put one in your closet, in the pantry, in the laundry room. Anywhere you might come across something that needs to be tossed right away. Once a week, do the rounds with a big garbage bag and empty all the wastebaskets into that sack.

READ MORE >>> How to declutter and organize


How many pairs do you really have if you can’t find any of them?

READ MORE >>> How many scissors do you have and where are they?


Once you declutter your closet, you’ll have plenty. But until you do that, there’s never enough hangers when you need them and that leads to throwing clothes on the floor, over the back of chairs, back into the laundry basket. Save yourself some stress and pick up far more cheap hangers than you think you need. Or declutter your closet. I can help.

by Lucy Kelly


  1. I am happy to report that I have plenty of scissors, trash cans, and hangers. And the good kind of hangers too!

    I have very few bags of bags, (unless we’re talking about handbags) coupons or magazines.

    I’m not really bragging because where I lack in coupons and magazines, I make up for in shoes and make up.

  2. I guess I’m doing well, but then again, I’m an organizer! I don’t save the BB&B coupons at all because they’re in the app on my phone, and I’m never shopping without my phone. My bag of bags only holds target bags (bigger and sturdier than those from other stores), perfect for emptying the shredder or lining the smaller trash cans. (No doggies, so no poop!) The environment must hate me, but I never use recyclable canvas bags unless it’s raining and I have to carry my library books. I give them all away to my mom, who shares them with her friends. I haven’t seen a film canister in 15+ years, but I have diabetes test strip canisters, which are almost identical, and I’ll admit, they are awfully useful, but I only keep a few. And those magazines? I read them all. I used to have 17 subscriptions, but they keep stopping publication, so I’m down to just a handful. But when the new one arrives, the old ones go to magazine heaven.

    I have two pair of scissors (one pair from when I went off to college, one I stole from my mom when I moved away because they reminded me of her), and because I have an open floor plan apartment, I have enough scissors and trash cans. But hangers? I’m slowly purging all the wire ones, so I may need more. Good reminder…and fun post!

  3. This is great stuff – although I wish someone out there would send me a film canister or two. We used them to hold water to keep woodwind reeds soaked (long ago, I used to play clarinet professionally). Very handy and I can’t find any now on the few occasions I do practice. Also, believe it or not, I use my BBB coupons.

  4. As per usual, I am chuckling as I read your post. I just love the way you present your thoughts! I don’t have coupons, film canisters, or extra grocery bags – cloth or plastic. I totally agree with keeping a nice sized trash can near where you need one. So often I find piles of trash on the floor near a favorite chair and suggest that a trash can be placed in this drop zone.

  5. It’s funny that you mentioned grocery bags. The other day I was going through our bags to get one to hold items I was returning. Well, the first one I pulled out had two large holes on the bottom. Then, the second one I pulled out, was a small bag. It was the size of a greeting card. Ugh. Sometimes automatic behaviors become the norm in our home. It’s critical to stay present when placing these items because not everything is necessary to keep.

  6. I’m happy to report that I don’t have any film canisters, but I do remember them. I DO have LOTS of scissors, and they all work really well. There’s nothing more frustrating to me than a pair of scissors that aren’t sharp. Remember the safety ones we used to have for our kids. They don’t cut anything. I guess that was the point, but I found them impossible, even when I was a kid. Having the right tools in the right place is key. And your other point is letting go of the excess. It’s a balance between these two- just enough, that is useful to strive for.

    1. Oh Linda, those kid scissors! An exercise in frustration. I taught my kids to use the real scissors. They were blunt enough I felt comfortable with that, but certainly better than the paper-benders.

  7. I’m totally laughing because our state banned plastic bags. I used to have a ton of them, and now I crave them. I feel like everyone can just send me their plastic bags so I don’t have to buy them LOL! All to say, we ll have things in overabundance and things we need. Fun to consider!

  8. I had to laugh out loud at the stash of bags in a bag. And I don’t even have a dog. Out they go tomorrow. Thanks for the push!