Tuesday, January 12, 2010

#11 Everything has a Shelf Life

#11-Some of the storage areas in our home get a lot of traffic.  They are used multiple times a day for storing and retrieving things. These areas need to be highly efficient. Think about your refrigerator. This is one of the most frequently used storage spaces in your home and if you’ve never thought of your refrigerator as a storage space before…you need to start now!  Most of us are so good about managing the items in our fridge.  We toss the old and replace it with the new. When dealing with food items, it's simple to decide what needs to stay and what has to go. If you open up a container and the foul smell knocks you out because food item has spoiled, you toss it. Simple. It wouldn’t be healthy to put it back in the fridge. If you cook something and it doesn’t turn out well or you didn’t enjoy eating it, you throw it out. It wouldn’t make sense to pack it up and make space for it in the fridge. If the milk container gets a hole in it, you wouldn’t let it leak all over, you would fix it before placing it back inside. Simple. Ideally your refrigerator is filled with good food, that has not passed its shelf life, that you enjoy eating.

So, would you eat what’s in your closet? Closets of all kinds, especially clothes closets, are another area of our homes that need to function efficiently at all times. We go in and out of them many times a day and they need to be filled with things that meet our needs. The refrigerator analogy works so well for thinking about closets because we are smart about the stuff in the fridge. When we find an item in the fridge that’s not healthy, we throw it away but when it comes to our closets we get weak.  We forget about the rules of making healthy decisions. Does it fit me? Is there a hole in it? Do I even like the way it looks?  Is it still in style? Healthy decisions about clothing are about what’s good for your mind and your spirit. Spoiled food makes you sick, but staring at a closet full of clothing that has passed its shelf life makes you feel guilty, self conscious about your body, rushed and frustrated. That’s just as unhealthy as eating spoiled food.

Why is it so easy to throw away wilted lettuce and so difficult to let go of the unflattering green cardigan? Part of it can be that the lettuce cost about $2 and that sweater might have been a big purchase. The investment of time and money we spent on that sweater brings guilt and we force ourselves to hold on to it for the wrong reasons. If it looks great on you and it serves your needs, it should be hanging there. If not, it should be tossed with the wilted lettuce.  We fix the leaky milk container before returning it to the fridge but let the skirt with the torn hem hang there for months with no attention. The potential mess is easy to see when it’s the milk container that has a hole. It's not so simple to see the mess caused by a torn skirt hanging there week after week. The damage is two-fold. You are wasting your valuable time passing over that skirt every week.  It takes time to pull it out, realize its torn and hang it back up. Those moments add up and you have better things to do with your time. Leaving it there might also cause you to feel ashamed or burdened by the fact that you haven’t gotten around to fixing it. Let these feeling go. Toss them out, they’re not healthy. Fix the rips or get rid of the clothes.

My point.  Why is it so simple to read the expiration date on the yogurt and toss it when it gets old, but those acid washed jeans and that blazer with the huge shoulder pads continue to hang in our closets long after they have passed their prime? Don’t you wish clothing came with an expiration date printed right on the label?  The most important thing about healthy clothing, is holding on to things that make you feel good. If you reach for it over and over again, if you put it on and tell yourself you feel great and if it serves a need in your current life then it should stay. If not, it should go. It’s not healthy for your mind and your spirit to let it take up space in your closet.  So, would YOU eat what’s in YOUR closet? Are you holding on to things that are past their expiration date? Do you have items in your closet that are unhealthy? Feed your spirit with the same healthy stuff that feeds you body. If it is past its shelf life, let it go. 

1 comment:

  1. Once again, an excellent article. I love the refrigerator analogy and will get rid of my red blazer with shoulder pads. I don't care how much it cost - it's been there 10 years!
    There are some fabulous clothing recycling organizations out there that will get good used clothing into the hands of women who are just getting into the professional workplace and don't have the budget to buy expensive new clothes (Dress for Success and The Mustard Seed are local here).

    Something I need to work on is having too much of one thing. Unless I plan to wear a clean pair jeans every single day without doing laundry, I don't really need the 8 pairs I have currently hanging in my closet. I have the same problem with favorite clothing items that I have with boxes of pasta - snatch up more when they're on sale even though I truly have enough currently in stock.