It’s Okay to Throw Away

by Katy on March 22, 2021 · 30 comments

I am the queen of making my belongings last an extended length of time. I mend, I glue, I scrub and when all else fails, I turn a blind eye to a less than perfect item. Because as long as my stuff is functional, I don’t mind it being a bit more “shabby” than “chic.”

Take these Keen slippers as an example. I’m pretty sure that I received them as a Christmas gift in 2007. They were the perfect amalgam of form and function and required nothing more than a biannual laundering. But then I started being bothered by how the heel areas were worn down from me stepping on the backs, so I cut that part off and sewed a blanket stitch around the edge to stabilize the fabric. They also needed the rubbery sole part reattached to the fabric in a few spots, so I pulled out my trusty Gorilla Glue. Then I noticed that the fabric was stained with cooking spatter, so I gave them a thorough scrub and lay them out to dry over a heat vent

Then I crouched down to grab something and almost passed out from the stench of the slippers.

Goodbye, slippers. I think fourteen plus years was a good run.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen March 22, 2021 at 1:42 pm

Thanks, Katy. Sometimes we need a reminder! 🙂

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Katy March 22, 2021 at 5:48 pm

I may never recover from the smell.

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Jen March 22, 2021 at 10:35 pm

Hahahahaha. They still look pretty good. But the smell! Time for buh bye, old slippers. Good thing summer is on the horizon.

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Kathy March 22, 2021 at 2:20 pm

Probably like most parents when my sons’ jeans got holes in the knees I did iron on patches. When the knees were beyond repair, they were cut off for shorts.
Recently we moved and I seized this opportunity to downgrade linens to donate to animal rescue.
Everything has a shelf life. RIP keen slippers

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Denise March 22, 2021 at 3:31 pm

Did you feel a bit sad, a bit liberated or both (or none?) about the end of an era?

And out of sheer nosiness – why not wash them again?

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Carol Doane March 22, 2021 at 4:41 pm

Not gonna lie. Sometimes I am too frugal, as noted on this Instagram post https://www.instagram.com/p/CJZI5j9p4eU/

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Long Time Frugal March 22, 2021 at 5:43 pm

lol.. a bit “aromatic” were they? My suspicion is no amount of washing would keep the “aroma” at bay for very long.

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Sarah March 22, 2021 at 6:38 pm

And the last year should really count as 2 or 3 in terms of amount of time spent at home in slippers!

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Texasilver March 22, 2021 at 8:35 pm

I am 65. I have a long black wool winter coat that I bought new at Burlington Coat Factory when I was 28. It still fits & I wear it when we get the occasional cold weather in Texas. (We did have a record cold spell this Feb for one week) No moth holes & I still kinda like it. I guess I could be buried in it some day.

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Lori March 22, 2021 at 10:01 pm

I love this!

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Cynthia March 23, 2021 at 3:22 am

My down jacket, purchased in 1978 (not a typo!) may have just seen its last winter as hiking/dog walkingVermont winter gear. To be sure, I haven’t worn it every one of those 43 winters (3 in California, 1 in Nigeria, for instance) but it has surely seen service. Warmest coat I’ve ever had, and orange, which is nice for the woods here. If I can repair the zipper I might get another season out of it–but it looks bad. I’m going to wash it, knowing that it might not survive the tumble, and decide from there. At this point it feels like it should be buried rather than tossed!

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cynthia March 23, 2021 at 3:29 am

I also just donated a quilt to the humane society. First thing I bought when I got divorced 17 years ago (my ex-husband would never have allowed a pink quilt in the bedroom) it has had holes chewed in it by two different dogs, and was partially burned once by sparks from a chimney fire (wood stove in bedroom…) Patched and returned to its place of honor each time, it is now simply shredding, probably due to excessive laundering (see above, dogs). So, dog-bed stuffing at the shelter is an appropriate next job for this beloved comforter that nested me in hard times.

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Tiiu March 27, 2021 at 12:39 am

You are hilarious! 😀

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Happy Mum March 23, 2021 at 3:34 am

Ah Katy and commenters — I love this post! Thank you! So very helpful to be reassured that, sometimes, eventually, it is indeed ‘okay to throw away’. Many thanks.

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Mary in Maryland March 23, 2021 at 5:41 am

I bought the fabric for my nightgown in 1987 and sewed it in 2000. The pink knit has thinned a lot in the past twenty winter, and now the elbows are gone and the sleeves almost falling off. When it warms up, I’ll chop the nightie into small pieces to clean the dog’s ears. The Mister and I have agreed that when clothes are a danger to the washing machine, we’ll let them go. My Dad had trouble retiring work shirts, so at the end of the line my Mother used to rip them off him–usally at lunchtime.

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Ruby March 23, 2021 at 5:49 am

I agree with the observation that this winter equals three or four regular winters in slipper wear since so much staying at home was done. And yes, sometimes you have to retire things when they’re just slap worn out.

We had a long-term houseguest who almost completely wore out a vintage quilt that belonged to my grandmother. (I had no idea he was washing an almost hundred year old quilt weekly!) When he moved out earlier this month, the quilt was in shreds except for one mostly intact section. I cut out the section and will make it into a wall hanging. The rest, which was mostly see-through with holes, went into the trash. I may have hummed “Taps” as I closed the bin lid. 🙂

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Judy March 23, 2021 at 8:53 am

That’s so sad! RIP vintage quilt.

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Ruby March 23, 2021 at 11:11 am

It was sad and I was kind of angry until I realized he simply did not know any better. I felt a lot calmer about it when I found the one section that’s still good. There’s just one worn spot that’s barely noticeable in one patchwork square, so I still have something to remember the quilt by.

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priskill March 25, 2021 at 2:35 pm

Oh, no! But That is such a good save!

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Angela R March 23, 2021 at 6:23 am

I’m sitting here reading your blog wearing my favorite maternity hoody. My “baby” just turned 20 a couple months ago! My hoody has loads of holes in it and I have thought about throwing it away, maybe next year…..

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susanna d March 23, 2021 at 6:35 am

My husband bought a pair of deerskin moccasins on our honeymoon. He wore those things for 30 years. Strangely enough (and thankfully!) they never got odoriferous. He made so many repairs to them over the years – he kept re-stitching with new rawhide, repaired/replaced the soles, etc. He finally replaced them six years ago, although he swears the “new” pair isn’t as good as the old and he still misses them. But it was time to let them go. Ugly does not begin to describe those moccasins in their later years.

Our son was visiting last week. He came upstairs laughing at my set of free weights – “You had those same weights when I was a teenager.” He’s 40 now, and actually I bought those weights long before he was a teenager. I told him they may not be as pretty as some of the brightly colored new sets of weights, but weights that weighed ten pounds 30-some years ago…still weigh 10 pounds now. I’m keeping those things forever.

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Heidi Louise March 23, 2021 at 7:04 am

I have trouble “throwing away” plants. The hostas in front of my house were planted by previous owners, so they are well over 21 years old. I gouge out about half of them every few years. I feel wasteful when I can’t find someone to give them away to (they’re a good five dollars a plant even for these very ordinary ones, so I have a good hundred some dollars a season), and just put them out for yard waste clean up. Ditto for day lilies. And I hate the succulent-thingies, which keep coming back in stunted forms, yet have never dug them all out to throw out.

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Lindsey March 23, 2021 at 10:43 am

In 1983 I was in Scotland and went to a tiny woolen mill where I purchased wool off the loom. I came home and paid someone to make a gorgeous skirt for me. I wear it still, although I have had to alter it when I lost weight. I love it.

I have an old fashioned undershirt for women that my grandmother bought in the 1950s. She wore it and then when she died I got it and wore it. When it got too tattered, I cut it into strips and used them to attach tomatoes to their cages in the greenhouse. Last summer I finally threw away the ties because they were literally disintegrating in my hands when I removed them from the cages. It makes me sad to think I won’t be reminded of grandma this summer when I see the ties.

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Lindsey March 23, 2021 at 10:44 am

had, not have, an old fashioned undershirt.

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Christine March 23, 2021 at 2:41 pm

I still have and wear two of my grandmother’s nightgowns and she died in 1997. I honestly wonder if things were just made sturdier back then (back then sounds like ages ago but they are probably only about 30 years old) because some of the newer nightgowns and pj’s that I own have holes and showing other wear. Plus I love to wear my grandmother’s things as they make me reminisce about her. Like you, I’ll be sad if and when they finally wear out.

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Isitaneedorawant March 23, 2021 at 10:50 am

When I have clothing or household items on their last legs and ready to be disposed of I say to myself, “It doesn’t owe you anything.”

My youngest daughter has a lovely plaid wool jacket that my mother wore in the 30’s and 40’s, I wore in university in the 70’s and she is wearing now as an “in between” weather jacket.
This jacket is a lovely plum coloured plaid.
Think of something from “ All Creatures Great and Small” and roaming the Dale’s. It has lovely braided leather buttons.
I’ve patched the elbow on one side( she didn’t want the other one done) and added material at the sleeve hems. They are the keeper of our memories eh?
I’ve been losing weight recently and quality items purchased in previous decades have the potential to be worn again. Here’s looking at you “Jones “ double down winter jacket:)
My neighbours and I at the lake frequently still wear tshirts and bathing suits and summer clothes from the 70’s,80’s and 90’s. Some are kind of scary, think men’s adidas shorts from the 80’s. Too short IMO. Haha, no keeping up with the Jones out there.

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K D March 24, 2021 at 4:33 am

I do struggle with this. I have some three year old Clark’s slippers that I have washed several times but they are still a bit odoriferous. I’ll keep them a while longer but I know their life is limited.

After my mom died last year I was given a winter coat that had come from my cousin about fifty years ago. It’s warm but I did not wear it all winter. The cuffs are a bit frayed but it is otherwise in good condition. I have been struggling with what to do with it.

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C March 24, 2021 at 9:10 am

I have these exact same Keen slippers. I think I’m on winter #4 with them. A good example of spending more up front for something that will last. I got them to replace a beloved pair of LL Bean slippers that had a hole in the sole. I gave them a grateful ‘KonMari’ send off. It’s a good feeling to have loved a possession through the end of it’s life vs. throw away recklessly.

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Cathy March 24, 2021 at 11:11 am

Yes to this! It helps combat household clutter, provides an outlet to stress purge the stuff languishing away in the house, and gives me license to realize that if I really need it 5-10 years from now, my frugal living has provided the means to replace it IF I need it again. (And usually, I’ll never need it again, or I can borrow it from someone!)

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AJ DK March 25, 2021 at 8:01 pm

I was sitting in a Berlin subway car thinking “Yikes, what is that smell? Baaad!”

I kept looking around to identify the source of the stench – turned out it came from the straps of my worn-out Teva sandals…

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