Make 2022 the Year to Use it Up!

By Madeleine Kates

While everyone thinks about the big goals regarding their health, personal, and spending habits as the new year approaches, why not start by taking a look at the little things you can do to create a healthier, less cluttered, and lower-waste living space? Here are some tips to help you get started on making 2022 the year to use it up:

Dump your drawers: Start by unearthing products from the closets and drawers, and divide them into categories so you can see what you’re working with. It is easiest to start in an area where products have a clear expiration date, such as in the kitchen or bathroom. This way, you can quickly discard products and begin making visible progress.

Stop hoarding samples: You don’t travel that much! Nobody does. Instead of filling a drawer with samples from the dentist, magazines, and miniature gift packs, just use and enjoy them. Don’t let them collect and expire when you can send products to someone who will appreciate them, such as a college student.

Assess each product: Think about the purpose of each product and how it is currently stored. Are there items that need to be kept enclosed that are in open packaging that doesn’t seal up again properly? Cotton swabs or other first aid products that come in factory sealed boxed packaging never quite re-seal perfectly once opened. The same can be said for dry goods including pasta, tea bags, or cereal that are stored improperly with loose box tops. Store and label these items in tins or mason jars to keep away critters, dirt, and germs.

Organize and consolidate: Combine non-perishable products into one container, and properly discard or recycle the extra empty packages. Or, use products up in date order, starting with those closest to expiration. Multiple boxes of bandages of different sizes and colors can all coexist in one container and location, rather than in half-empty boxes scattered around the house.

Check strange locations: Look at sets of items, travel carriers, and car compartments that have half-used, sample, or vacation-ready products. Dive into old backpacks and purses to see what you find inside. You’d be surprised how quickly sunscreen from your last trip expires, and we all have old watery hand sanitizers from the start of COVID, especially if they were left in a hot car.

Send extras elsewhere: Investigate organizations that can take fabric items that have seen better days, or extra cleaning products. Many organizations that work with animals need old blankets or towels for rescue operations, and some can even be turned into warm beds or toys!

When it comes to your health and habits, start by taking a look at the spaces you spend the most time. Little changes can lead to bigger ones, but you have to start somewhere. This year, think about making 2022 the year to use it up!

Madeleine Kates is a Senior at Niagara University studying Life Sciences, Psychology, and Environmental Science.