Throw Away 50 Things
Right Now.

Before I get to today’s post, I have a favour to ask of you.  The chicken debacle continues.  It’s a long story which I plan to get into later.  But for now … if you live in Hamilton or any of its surrounding communities that make up the amalgamated Hamilton, please sign this petition.  It was started by a woman who, like me, feels backyard chickens should be allowed in urban settings.  Signing it will not guarantee backyard chickens will be allowed in Hamilton, but it will start the ball rolling.

Click here to sign the petition 




I got an email a few days ago from a friend.   She wanted to share something she’d found on the Internet with me.  She isn’t the kind of friend that would normally send me random stuff  from the Internet, but she explained when she read this piece of information she immediately thought of me.

Normally I politely thank the person who forwards me stuff from the Internet then promptly ignore it.  I can really only read so many Maxine cartoons.

But I took a chance and gave the post she forwarded a look.  It was a post on a theory, a challenge, started by motivational speaker Gail Blanke.  You might be familiar with her.  Since I have never been one for motivational speakers, self help or any help for that matter … I was not familiar with her.  In a nutshell, Gail has a book and a website that revolve around one sentiment.  Throw out 50 things.  Right now.  Immediately.  It can be anything.  And it will change your life.

I scoffed.  As I often do.  I’m a scoffer, I can’t really help it.  Just this morning I scoffed at a kitchen chair.  I didn’t have anything to throw out.  Just a few years ago I sold/threw out pretty much everything I owned and replaced it with more streamlined stuff.  I just plain didn’t have 50 things to throw away.  Yes.  I am *that* good.

Then I looked directly under my wrists.  My wrists were resting on the edge of the antique pine desk I keep my laptop on.  That desk is in my kitchen.  And in that desk is a drawer.  It is “that” drawer.  The dreaded junk drawer was a mere 2 inches from the fingers that were currently replying to my friend’s email with a great, big, “Thanks, but I DON’T HAVE 50 THINGS TO THROW AWAY!  I’m better than everyone else.”.

This is “that” drawer.

drawer before


This is what was in that drawer.

drawer floor before


This is what was left after I threw out and otherwise relocated the stuff in it.

drawer floor after


This is “that” drawer now.

drawer after


And yes.  I feel better.  Lighter.  Healthier.   It was actually harder than I  thought it was going to be.  Safety pins?  But I might need those.  What if I need those?  They’re great for … pinning things.  Then I got over it and started chucking.   Next I’ll move onto the BOXES of 15 year old makeup in my bathroom, and then like my friend, my refrigerator door.

And I’m very, very excited about it.  Which I suppose is what my friend figured I’d be.  And she was right.  When I cleared out my house a few years ago I felt GREAT.  And that feeling has lasted for years.  I just got rid of crap that I thought I needed, but truly didn’t.  You really do feel lighter and better and for some strange reason, incredibly accomplished when you chuck things.  You feel in control and organized and superior to all other beings.  I don’t know about you, but I like that feeling.


So that is why I’m telling you about this challenge to Throw Away 50 Things.  Because I think you will like it too.  In one week we’re all going to meet back here again and I am going to post some of your pictures.  Yes.  You are going to be famous.  And so is your junk and crap.

Each item equals one thing.  One scrap of paper … 1 thing.  One safety pin … 1 thing.  See?  It’ll be easy.

Pick an area to focus on  … take a before picture, and then an after picture.  They don’t have to be magazine worthy shots.  Just a picture.  And then send the 2 pictures to me at [email protected] with a little information on what you did and how it went.  I’ll post some of the pictures and stories next Monday and report on how it all went.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have a powder blue, sparkle infused, thick tip, eyeliner somewhere that I’m pretty sure I’m ready to let go of.


  1. Evalyn says:

    Bacause I just did this I can be snooty about it and suggest to others (my sister) – YOUR PURSE. Seriously, your children are grown men, there are no grandchildren, you do not need crackers, wet wipes and a binky in your purse. You MAY be in a car wreck, but will you really have time to don the extra pair of underpants before the ambulance gets there? 3 notebooks? Tax returns? Three tubes of lipstick, one of which is empty? They don’t make that shade any more. Toss, toss, toss, which can lead to downsizing the purse. I’m sure you (my sister) know who you are.

  2. Alison says:

    Who the H is Rick Mercer? Why is everyone so concerned about his paper likeness?

    In other news, I am totally jumping on this bandwagon. Started with organizing my kitchen cabinets right after my Christmas vacation…now it’s time to start throwing stuff away, and this was just the motivation I needed!

    If I lived in Canada, I would totally sign your chicken petition.

  3. Nancy says:

    I have been working on packing up things to donate to a church thrift shop..I think I will be going way beyond fifty though..good luck to everyone..I look forward to seeing everyone else’s junk!!

  4. Amanda says:

    i don’t agree with the idea of throwing away 50 things. I agree with the idea of decluttering and relocating. If you’re going to get rid of something bring it to the thrift store, give it to someone else, but don’t just through it out. what’s your garage is someone else’s treasure you know? i feel like i’m sort of in the same boat as you, i always get rid of stuff i don’t need and don’t keep a lot of un-needed items. it’s just not the way to be.

    • Karen says:

      Amanda – This really is about getting rid of crap. Letting go. The snotty nosed keychain? Yeah. No One wants that, LOL. I’m a bit of a repurposing expert and this particular exercise isn’t about refuse, reuse, recycle. It’s about getting rid of the 7 year old bottle of Kraft Raspberry Vinegrette in your fridge door. By all means give away stuff if you can, but get rid of junk too. Good luck! Karen

  5. pat says:

    Please tell me you did not actually toss the rhinstone sunglasses?

  6. Kristin says:

    Sheesh! We already did (one) junk drawer this week, and just last night emptied out & re-did the cupboard where the dishes go. No before & after pics!! I’m sure I can find something else to de-clutter….

  7. Mary Lemon says:

    Wow. I love your blog. Just found it off FB. I’ve been tossing stuff for a couple of years. We moved this summer after 14 years in the same house and I wish I had a picture of the crap on the curb for trash, the stuff hauled to the City Mission and the stuff I carefully sat on the lawn by the curb and everything was snatched up by treasure seekers. But then we moved in and I realized I STILL have way too much crap, some of it is good crap tho. Working thru it. Because I have a staging business I can’t get rid of as much as I want to. And I think I’m going to get an etsy shop for some of it. However, I have been actually throwing out old nail polish and makeup and your post is really convincing me to get busy and throw out 50 things TODAY. Ok. Off I go to find stuff to photo and toss!

  8. Traci says:

    Who is Rick Mercer?

  9. SG says:

    “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. William Morris

  10. AmieM says:

    Love it! And I am so going to participate.

    Hmm, how about my “storage” area that is supposed to be a spare room? Or the craft cupboard, or the bottom of my closet? Why not all of the above!

  11. Thinking of adopting a greyhound Karen?
    I have a really simple way you can wrap up your earbuds so they don’t get tangles. I made one of these with a hotel key card and it works really well!! P.S I just used a drill and scissors to cut it.

    • Karen says:

      Agnes – That’s GREAT! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cursed those dreaded ear buds and their tanglepuss wires. I’ll give it a go. ~ karen

  12. Ok…again I will take your challenge….I know of one big drawer that is worst than yours….not to mention my desk …..yuk…this could be work….but will take your challenge…..

  13. Rebecca says:

    Oh My G!!! this is going to be fun! thank you karen, for this challenge.

  14. It is true, you do feel better. Tossing crap gives you such a rush. It’s addicting though. When de-cluttering the garage last fall, then the basement in December, Hubby had to stop me tossing out some of his “great” stuff. Then he did his office and found he was a happy man. Now I need to go do the basement again. 50 things? I’ll try. Thanks for the tip about drawers there’s a few of those around here.

  15. Melody Madden says:

    I would have kept the picture of Rick Mercer ……

  16. Joanne says:

    Day off today — and my goal is to throwout at least 50 things (per room that I get to). Starting with the dreaded dresser drawers… then moving on to the freezer and kitchen cabinets. It is long overdue!

    • Karen says:

      Joanne – Pictures! It’ll help motivate others! Plus it’ll be fun, as long as you have a camera. If you don’t then you’ll have to draw the pictures which isn’t nearly as much fun, and slightly more time consuming. ~ karen

  17. Liz S. says:

    My husband and I were just discussing last night doing a mass purge of the closets. Clothes that have followed us from one home to another. The super itchy ugly sweater from great aunt so and so. You know the sweater. The one that is far too ugly to even wear to an ugly sweater party. I think my husband and I could each stand to throw away/donate at least 50 items each. Let the purge begin!

  18. Dru says:

    2 calculators? And I’m curious about the watch living in “the” drawer..could it live in the jewelry box instead?

    And is your part of Canada high crime? What do you have so many keys for..I only have a key to each of our 2 vehicles..and our prisons are full to overflowing around here. Is there some connection to the chicken petition and so many keys?!

    Also, if need be, your girls can move here. We have 12 acres and happy hens. They would be happy here and I’d even send pictures on to you..

  19. Debbie from Illinois says:

    Karen, this is my first post! Woohoo! I spent an hour this past Saturday just watching your videos. You are one industrious and funny gal.

    Both my kids are gone. I am a happy mom. They are 19 and 22 and they went back to college yesterday! A month between semesters is way too long for a winter break! Love them lots but…….

    So, I am up for this challenge in every frick frackin’ room in my house!!!:)

    • Karen says:

      Welcome to the world of commenting Debbie! ~ karen

      • Debbie from Illinois says:

        Woohoo! Three rooms done today. I almost filled the big garbage can and the recycling can today. Garbage pickup isn’t until Friday so I will have to store garbage in the garage, my husband will be thrilled. Yeah right!!!! I also have 3 boxes of stuff to donate.

  20. Barbie says:

    Perfect timing! I have SO MUCH CRAP I can get rid of….I have continually said this month after month! I am SO IN!

  21. christine says:

    Sorry,one drawer a day.

  22. christine says:

    I started January 1,and I am averaging one a day.It is not giving me any spiritual enlightenment but the pick box at the front door is making my friends happy.

  23. Nicole2 says:

    Man! I’m like Caroline. I did the 27 fling boogie just yesterday! (I got the 27 fling boogie from an organizing website years ago. You go around and fling or chuck 27 things, and that’s the 27 fling boogie.) Mind you, a lot of it was my husband’s old underwear and socks (the ones that had holes and rips) and I wasn’t about to take a picture of that. Nobody wants to see that, I’m sure.

    I always have purging to do though (all of us do, if we’re honest with ourselves) so I may still participate. I love to decrapify, It’s so therapeutic. It’s like taking a load of. I love seeing the after all organized, like your drawer. You gain back some real estate and god knows real estate is expensive.

  24. Hi, Karen, Thank you SO MUCH for this post… I can use some of this to motivate myself, remember you did once with GARLIC… Let’s see why I can accomplish this time…

  25. so no greyhound for you?…
    it’s funny to see inside people’s drawers. You have inspired me to tackle the toy closet today.


  26. Ooooh! Great idea! I’ve been cleaning out already, so this will inspire me to do even more. Paper is the WORST.

  27. Sarah says:

    This certainly hasnt been hard for me lately. Ive been doing the same thing because we had a fire in our 1860 home and we have alot of smoke damage. When something like that happens you start looking at ‘stuff’ differently: do I really need this? Will it make my life happier to keep it? Or is it just something else to dust…to move around,etc…
    Our cleaners are (finally) coming in this week to begin the cleanup. Its one big,long process but we’re grateful to finally get it started…and with less ‘stuff’ in the way:)

  28. Susan says:

    50 things?!!!! Is that all! I have almost turned into my mother! I have a junk drawer, a junk room, a basement junk room, a laundry junk room! I have even resorted to putting stuff under my bed. It might take me a week just to be able to wade into the mess! 50 things? No problem! Pictures?…. Now where did I put that camera?..

  29. Denise says:

    lol I went through my bedroom (closet too) and donated/recycled/threw out WAY more than 50 things just yesterday and yes it felt great, no pictures though…but like Caroline I could probably find 50 more, my storage room still needs to be cleaned out.

  30. Mary says:

    Hi Karen,
    Totally off topic – just wondering if you do motivational speaking? We’re going to need somebody for Admin Professional’s Day at the end of April. I think you would be marvelous. How would I be able to get in touch?

  31. Cathy says:

    What timing! I’m actually going to clean out my junk ROOM and turn it into an office. That would make great before/after photos but it won’t be done by next Monday. I’ll still send it to you – that will motivate me.

  32. Lois says:

    I’m taking up the challenge! I’ve been good about keeping the fridge door and make-up drawer streamlined and free from disease and disaster, but I’ve got some other areas that are hot messes: closets, junk drawer, tool room (where I’m actually collecting friends’ cast offs so I’ll have enough junk/treasure for a yard sale which I dread holding so there it all sits), and the granddaddy of them all – the attic! I’m going to steel my resolve and tackle one area today.

  33. Dixie Redmond says:

    I’ve been er…decluttering. I am a messy girl. Somehow it doesn’t look as purposeful or distinguished on my desk as it does on Albert Einstein or William Buckley or Al Gore. Kind of like gray hair.


  34. Holly says:

    I have no problem with this challenge at all. All I have to do is watch one episode of “Hoarders, Buried Alive” and the crap just starts flying out the door. When I started to TIVO the episodes, my husband installed a lock on his workshop. PANSY!!

  35. Jen says:

    I’m worried about the Rick Mercer bookmark(?) Please tell me you just tucked it away into The Farmer Boy to keep your place…

  36. I hope one of you have a VHS machine for this throw out ( uhm aka junk swap) experiment. Or is that a definite NO?
    And do any of u ever sleep ? JUST ONCE I wanna be the first to comment. That woud be the-best-day-ever but I think I will need to stay up ALL NIGHT to stay ahead of the curve. Drats. An unattainable mission.
    Lynne xx

  37. Louise says:

    I agree with Caroline!!! I just took two carloads to Goodwill, another carload to Homeless Kids ‘Shop’, gave away 4 huge bags of fabric and a bookshelf and another 1/2 carload of baby stuff to a friend!!! And when I say carload, I do have a smallish car, but it was FULL. No seeing out the back window! I’ll see if I can find more though!

  38. Violet says:

    But … but … but … Gail stresses that you can’t just throw out 50 of the same type of item and count them as separate things. If one piece of paper is all you have in terms of unnecessary paper, then one piece of paper = 1 thing. But if you have 50 pieces of paper lying around that you don’t need, those 50 pieces of paper still count as only one thing. (If I remember correctly, Gail uses books in her example. No matter how large a stack you toss, the stack counts as one thing.) Otherwise people would cheat and just toss out a box of 50 rubberbands or something, because we people is devious at finding sneaky shortcuts.

  39. You are so right! I have a few junk drawers placed strategically around the house…for quick cleanups of those things you look at and say, “hmmm…I’ll just shove this here until I need it or until I think to take it where I might use it! hahaha!” I accept your challenge and raise you another 50! xo

  40. Deb says:

    I read this and instantly knew it would be the junk drawer in the kitchen…then I realized there’s a junk drawer in the file cabinet next to my desk…but, wait, the linen closet…nonono, the cabinet in the living room. Crap (literally and figuratively). One thing at a time, one picture at a time. Great idea.

  41. Brenda j says:

    You threw out a thing with Rick Mercer on it? Really? Mail it to me!!!

  42. We are on the SAME page this week! I’m going through my entire house — closet by closet, drawer by drawer, and throwing away at least 50 things every week. It’s a great feeling (and a sad reminder of what a hoarder I’ve been!). Look forward to getting a peek at everyone’s junk. ;) Here’s a link to mine:

  43. itchbay says:

    Uhoh… I’m sure my office could stand a good organizing. We’ll see what I can get done this week. I know I like to pride myself on being pretty ruthless about keeping stuff I’m not using, but that room seems to attract the stuff I’m not sure I’ll use, but not sure I can afford to toss. Maybe it’s time to be a bit more ruthless.

  44. I need to go through all the ancient pens and sharpies which congregate reproachfully, their ink shrivelled inside them instead of unfurling in deathless prose…
    the rancid lipsticks which have curdled in their unswivelled cases instead of luring young men to rash passion…
    the stale ‘healthy organic flax’ and whole flour which should have lived out their dreams of wholesome muffins and warm loaves of home made bread, instead of breeding weevils.

    You said you wanted photos?

    • Nicole2 says:

      Wow, Tricia Rose, you have a knack for prose!!

    • Elena says:

      I literally died laughing when I read your post!!! Ok, so that “healthy” decades old flaxseed, and the box of farina I’ve had since Reagan was president….are on the short list!!!

      Karen, thanks for this article. Guilty as charged. I have kept dozens of safety pins for that “just in case” situation that never happens until you throw them all out….so I will keep two. Getting my camera ready for all of the useless stuff I have clung to far longer than necessary. But, does it just have to be fifty?? I think i can truly break records here….. :)

  45. Janelle says:

    I can’t believe you threw out Rick Mercer. That is all.

    • Karen says:

      Janelle – I did *not* throw out Rick. It was an ticket from seeing the show last year which is also a bookmark. It is currently sitting in the middle of “Farmer Boy”. ~ karen

  46. Caroline says:

    This is unfair because I actually did quite a bit of chucking the other night. HOW DARE YOU POST THIS AFTER I DID A LOT ALREADY!!

    However, I’m sure I could easily find 50 MORE things. And I will.

  47. Meg says:

    I totally would have taken those sunglasses off your hands… the black ones with the cat eyes!

    I recently cleaned out all my old makeup and nail polish and felt like a new woman. Why do I need some Bonne Belle eyeshadow I bought in middle school? That was 15 years ago. There’s no WAY I should be putting it on my skin now!

    • Michelle says:

      Meg – Bonnie Bell?! I can beat that – Just yesterday I came across a Bonnie Bell Lipstick that my mother had in the 70’s. I couldn’t throw it out then and I couldn’t throw it out yesterday. It’s a PERFECT color. In fact, I meant to see if they keep their colors listed somewhere. Although I can no longer read the name I might be able to recognize the awesome, lavender-ish, pink color. Okay… I’ll go look for other things to chuck now…

  48. Marti says:

    I’m in. Great idea. Can I count leftovers? Er, prolly not. But my old broken key chain that I just replaced? DONE. Chandelier crystals that I don’t have a chandelier for? Please. Ziploc bags used once that I usually wash?

    Wait… I gotta keep the recyclables. But seriously, great challenge.

    • Karen says:

      Marti – OMG! Please don’t get rid of the chandelier crystals! They have a million uses. I LOVE chandelier crystals! I have a whole wicker basket devoted to them! LOL. Omg. I can see it now. This post is going to turn into a big junk swap! ~ karen

      • Marti says:

        I have so many more stupid things to get rid of than chandelier crystals and actually YOU are absolutely the person to supervise what I do with them. So… I’ll keep them. Donate some outdated clothing and wait for your further instructions and ideas on the chandelier crystals.

        Which means I’ll be checking in twice a day to see if you’ve posted an idea for me, right? ha!

        • Devin says:

          I just recently scoured the internet for days looking for chandelier crystals that I could use to re-do an old chandelier passed down to me from my boyfriend’s parents. I finally found somebody on ebay who would ship to Canada but ended up paying nearly $40 for them!! (Thankfully I’m really happy with the final result so it makes the price I paid worth it)

  49. Adrienne Audrey says:

    Oooh you have a bejeweled calculator too?
    I’m in! Gonna start chucking stuff tomorrow after work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *