Am I allowed to “waste” things?


Given my interest in decluttering, today I found myself pondering over a dilemma. At what point is it acceptable to get rid of something which is useful, but which you don’t like? For me, this issue tends to arise particularly around toiletries. At the moment, for example, I’m using some Dove body moisturiser which was given to me as a Christmas present. I don’t particularly like the smell or the texture, but not to the extent that I refuse to use it. More subtly, I don’t enjoy using it. That has a knock-on effect with my moisturising regime, in that it removes an incentive for me. It’s not enough to make me actively procrastinate on moisturising, but if it’s a bit cold when I get out of the bath, or I feel like it’s a bit later than usual, I’m less inclined to bother, and having something unenjoyable to use seems to push me towards skipping it for a day.

Compare that to my current bubble bath, which is marshmallow-scented and which I absolutely love. it becomes a reason to look forward to having a bath. A more accurate comparison might be with my current hand cream. Again, I love the smell of it, so if I’m teetering on the edge of putting cream on, that might just push me over.

Now, body moisturiser is fairly cheap anyway, and this specific one cost me nothing as it’s a present. Therefore, in concrete terms I lose nothing if I throw it away. In opportunity terms, I’ll have to buy a replacement moisturiser sooner, but again, that’s not the kind of expense that’s going to break the bank. If I didn’t like it at all, I could have happily given it to the charity shop unused, and the cost wouldn’t have been an issue in any way. Still, I feel some resistance to throwing it away. Perhaps it’s the waste element. I feel bad that neither I nor anyone else will get any benefit out of the remaining part of the bottle. However, if I take into account the disbenefit to me – the reduction in moisturising regularity – that would seem to outweigh the benefit of using up the rest of the bottle. Environmentally, the unused moisturiser will go in the bin and end up somewhere undesirable. But I suppose that even the used moisturiser gets washed off when I bathe, with the chemicals going down the plughole. So it doesn’t seem to make a big difference to anyone or anything, except in terms of my enjoyment level. Yet I still feel some level of resistance to throwing it out.

I’m sure a professional declutterer would tell me to throw it out if I don’t like it. I suspect an environmentalist would tell me that the damage is already done when the moisturiser is produced, and that I should switch to more eco-friendly products, like soap nuts. I can’t think who would tell me to keep it and use it up, except perhaps an older person with a “waste not want not” attitude carried over from the Second World War and rationing. So how have I internalised this message that I’m giving myself?

It’s an interesting question, and even after writing it all down and giving myself all the logical reasons to get rid, I still feel like “Maybe I’ll wait until tomorrow and see how I feel then”. What would you do? Do you know of any uses for half-empty toiletries that I haven’t thought of, and that would mean I could put mine to good use?