Getting rid of things can be quite difficult. We get attached, sentimental, and obstinate. We may have stopped using that bread maker a few days after buying it, but we just know that someday, somehow, it will become an integral part of our existence. We remember using that desk in high school, and though it’s now shoved in a corner with piles of other things we don’t use on it — You can’t just get rid of something like that!

Well, not only can you, but it’s probably a good idea. Things weigh us down. They pin us to places, to memories, and to complacency. While I wouldn’t advocate doing away with all memories or even hometowns, living less attached to things that no longer contribute to our lives is just as beneficial as having that memorabilia. Maybe it’s even more important: What if getting rid of that desk means you get more space for your favorite reading chair, the one you now sit in every evening to scroll through One Green Planet?

Enough said, right? Well, if you want to start minimalizing, here are some places to start:

Exercise Equipment

I’ve written about exercise equipment before. Unless, you are crazy dedicated and already an established stair stepper, it’s just better not to buy it. How many treadmills have we all seen pushed against the wall and covered in laundry? If you’ve done the same, get rid of the thing. Help out the next poor Schmo who thinks he or she wants a home gym, and at least we won’t be putting another unused exercise horse into habitually unused circulation.  Still worried about exercise? Jog or walk. Go outside, soak up so much needed Vitamin D, and enjoy some local parks and trails. You probably already own and wear sneakers. Not only will you get some exercise, but you’ll discover some fantastic new places near your home without adding clutter to your life.

Kitchen Equipment

The aforementioned bread maker, I assume, is already in the yard sale pile, but don’t be timid. Many kitchens are stuffed with Home Network’s forgotten latests, impulse purchases from the Wal-Mart days, and just plain junk we don’t need. Ditch it. My favorite kitchen cut was the microwave. I never used it anymore, and having it seemed…unhealthy. Ditch the old flatware, the former pots and pans, the old dish set, and all of those stored away gadgets. Still worried about wanting to make bread? Do it in the oven! Bread makers are not even close to necessary for making bread. In fact, they make little to no sense, just like many other “convenience” items. People lived for years without nuking things or creating little balls out of cantaloupes.

Clothing, New and Old

Start with the closet. If you’ve not worn an item in the last year, it’s because, every time you think you want to wear it, you find out that you still hate the way it looks. We keep so much stuff out of the theory of one day coming around. The whole idea today is to stop waiting for that day. Odds are you will never feel right in a fedora or whatever it is that tortures you so. Start sorting through belts, shoes, dresses, the almost-fits stuff. Still worried about needing that hat? Someone you know will have one. In fact, it’s probably that person that inspired you to make the purchase in the first place. Borrow it if and when you ever need it. Or, just wear something else you know you like. Or, buy stuff second-hand. In fact, do that anyway!

Attic/Basement Boxes

I’ve not lived in the States for nearly a decade, but I still keep three massive boxes of books in my poor father’s attic. Every time I visit, I guiltily thin the collection. Nobody’s perfect! Well, we all have our book collections or old stuffed animals or elementary attendance awards, but do we really need them? I still love Kurt Vonnegut, but the likelihood of me rereading Cat’s Cradle is slim, even slimmer that I’ll be at my father’s when this craving comes along.

Attic items, especially collections, are often sentimental items. They evoke memories we want to keep. Perhaps my thinning method is on the right track, and maybe the solution is to keep my favorite ten or twelve books and be done with the rest. Who’s going to read them stored in the attic anyway? Certainly not me.

From there, the whole thing just gets contagious. It’s important to remember than we can keep things that are important to us, things that truly do matter, that have earned a place in our everyday life, even if it’s just something we look at on the nightstand before turning out the light. But, it’s just as important to realize when something is not this sort of item. Don’t believe me?

Image source: Kelly/Flickr