Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of Something I Never Even Used?

Over the years I’ve written a lot about purging clothing and other unwanted items from my home. Although I’m primarily a minimalist I still struggle to get rid of sentimental belongings like my son’s baby clothes and toys. Usually my clutter-free mentality wins out over my more emotional side. I tend to convince myself, (and rightfully so), that removing unnecessary and unused stuff frees emotional and physical space for my family to live. With that in mind I’m usually able to bag stuff up and carry it off to the local donation center and truth be told once it’s gone I rarely if ever think about it again.

This weekend as I was cleaning out a downstairs closet I came across four duvet covers that were never used. Each blanket was a beautiful pastel color either turquoise, purple, pink or yellow. I bought them from a Linens-N-Things clearance bin over seven years ago! The original price was over $100, but I believe I bought them for either $19.99 or $29.99 a piece. At the time I couldn’t resist the bargain.

I’ll be honest. When I bought them I thought they were just small blankets. They were used as store displays and weren’t in their original packaging. When I got them home and discovered that they were duvet covers I should have returned them immediately to the store, but back then I bought things because they seemed like good bargains and kept them because I was sure I could buy duvet inserts or find some other use for them.

I placed them in a closet with every intention of using them, but the years passed and they continued to sit unused and abandoned. A year or so ago I found them in that closet and took them out of their wrapping determined to find a use for them. Yesterday when I found them staring back at me I decided it was finally time for them to go.

I was gathering items for our location donation center and pulled out a large trash bag to hold everything we intended to deliver. I opened the bag with one hand and held the blankets in the other. Even after seven years I had a hard time donating them. I couldn’t believe I wasted somewhere between $80 and $120 on them. I found myself asking, “Shouldn’t I keep them? Can’t I find a use for them? Won’t I use them?”

I considered using them for other purposes. Maybe cutting them up and making something out of them. In retrospect I could have made some really awesome pillows out of them, but I rarely sew, I’m not very good at it, so I don’t know how well they would have turned out anyway. It almost seemed a shame to cut them up. It seemed like someone should use them for their intended purpose before taking scissors to them. After holding those blankets out for a minute or two and contemplating my options I ultimately decided that someone else would probably make better use of them.

But I’ll be honest. It was difficult to throw those duvet covers into that bag. I hated the very notion of getting rid of something I spent good money on and never even used.

Do you struggle to get rid of things you’ve never used? Do you try to convince yourself that one day you’ll wear them or find a use for them?

Tell me I am not alone.

11 thoughts on “Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of Something I Never Even Used?”

  1. You definitely aren’t alone! I do the same thing all the time – and *may* have just purchased underbed storage containers to hold blankets that I will never use but have sentimental attachments too (one made by an Aunt, one given to me by my Grandmother, etc.). I have tried to get rid of things I don’t have any attachments for and even that is hard. I am currently boxing up all sorts of CDs and DVDs to sell back to Amazon at anywhere from 25 cents to $5 each, even though I haven’t watched or listened to them in years it is still hard to box them up. The $160 in Amazon credit I am getting is the only reason I am even moving forward with it!

    • Hi Jenn — So glad to know I’m not alone. Money definitely gives me the incentive to clean out the clutter. I also sold every DVD and CD I could and then donated the rest and I’ve also bought my fair share of storage containers for all of those things I still cannot bear to part with.

  2. I have the exact same problem! Its either an emotional attachment (someone gave me something) or I think I will use it at some point in time. I think the main issue is guilt. You are very conscious of how much you spent on those items and giving them away is a “waste” of the money you spent. But how is them sitting in storage not being used any less of a waste? You’ve spent the money, the deed’s been done. I also am working on this. If I think I might use it I probably will keep it because otherwise I’d have to buy it again, but sometimes the space it takes up is worth more than what was spent on the item.

    You are definitely not alone!

    • That is an excellent point! Why does it seem any less wasteful to store an item indefinitely? It’s wasteful either way. In fact, it’s better to give the items to someone who can use it then to hold it in storage with no plans of ever bringing it out. Thank you so much for the comment!

  3. Okay, this may be a strange comment, but have you already donated them? I’m looking for a couple of new duvet covers, so depending on the size, I might be interested in buying a couple of those from you if you would be willing.

    • Hi Robyn – I donated them over the weekend. Maybe I should have posted a giveaway and shipped them off to someone, like yourself, who was interested. That’s an idea for the next time.

  4. You should have given them as wedding gifts! I am sure someone would have loved a beautiful duvet cover like that. I am currently looking for something pretty and cheap for my husband and my first home/apt/duplex (whatever is cheapest).

    However, I agree. It is hard to get rid of the sentimental things the most. I think the # 1 useless item that people keep forever is their wedding dresses. Useless? yes. Can you bear to part with it? Uhhhhh.. struggling.

    • Oh wedding dresses, ugh. I still have mine, but if we don’t have a second child and/or she’s not a girl then I’m getting rid of it. I used to love to dance around in my mom’s dress and if I have a little girl I want her to be able to do the same with mine.

  5. I totally do this too! In fact, in some ways those things are the hardest to get rid of, because they represent failure – if I never even used it, the money was truly wasted.

    Now, keeping them and storing them and even (gasp!) paying to move them across the country might represent a larger failure on my part, but it’s not always easy to keep that in perspective. šŸ™‚


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