Tug of war with Magic Question 1

“I’m cheap,” said my friend as she pulled the empty bottle of shampoo out of the trash. “I can get another two shampoos out of this.”

“No you’re not,” I replied. “You’re ecologically minded. You’re green!” I added.

She smiled, unbelievingly.

Raised by Depression-era parents, she also saved everything. You never know when you’ll need it.

From time to time, I also have a tug-of-war when letting go.

Do I save something to use in another way or do I let it go to keep clutter at bay?

For years, I’ve saved a little jar of night cream. I let go of a smaller travel-sized version with no regrets, but I’ve held onto this larger-sized one. What if I might like to use it for something else? Unlike my friend, I do try to be ecologically minded.

The tug-of-war begins when I consider The Station Fire of 2009.

Would this be one of the items I’d take with me when we evacuate?


In a similar vein, Magic Question 1 is: Will I take time to acquire this item again if I lost it in a disaster?


As I write this, I’m struggling to reach the rest of the lotion from the bottom of a large-sized pump bottle. I could let the remaining lotion pour into this little jar! Oh, but I need to clean it, first.

This begs the question: When is enough ENOUGH?

Do the resources spent—water, soap, and my time—outweigh any benefit to saving it?


My friend gave me an idea, which I shared with my husband. Today, we add we add a little water to a near-empty bottle of shampoo and manage a few extra uses. That’s not being cheap, that’s being GREEN!

Little jar of cream tossed in trashI tossed the jar of night cream.

Instead, I’ll simply tilt the bottle with a piece of foil covering the top until I use the last of the lotion.

It may seem incidental to focus on one little jar of cream, but as you know if you finished reading STUFFology 101, mass attracts mass. Even one sheet of paper can soon grow into an overwhelming pile.

So, I ask you: What’s the “little jar” you need to let go in your life?

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2 replies
  1. avatar
    Eric Riddle STUFFologist says:

    The little things we occasionally save add up over time. I am big on re-purposing different things rather than tossing them in the trash. This mostly works well.

    Brenda’s question, “What’s the ‘little jar’ you need to let go in your life?” made me think about my garage. I save old coffee cans to use as storage for miscellaneous hardware items in the garage. Unfortunately our brand of coffee is now sold in plastic “cans” and the lids on them are not very secure, not too useful for garage storage. After reading this I went out and grabbed the two plastic coffee containers I was saving to re-purpose and put them in the recycle bin.

    A small victory in letting go of something I didn’t think of as clutter at first. This has further inspired me to go through some of the other actual coffee cans on the shelf to see if I can let some of that stuff go too. Thanks Brenda!

  2. avatar
    Brenda Avadian says:

    Eric, sometimes people will say, “Hey, if a STUFFologist has clutter issues, what am I expected to do?”

    In your experience with coffee containers, you clearly make the point that we all deal with clutter. It’s cyclical and takes conscientious effort each time we make the decision to save something.

    As we say, it’s harder letting go of something once we’ve acquired it. So, we try not to acquire something without giving it some thought.

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