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Use "Trashing" To Simplify Your Life

My life used to be a mess. I had accumulated a seemingly limitless assortment of toys, books, inoperative gadgets and of course, faded newspapers. With each move I managed to collect more and more boxes, like debris caught in a gravitational field of pointlessness…that is, until I discovered the organizational trick known as “Trashing.” Trashing is a process by which you take things that are in your house and place them somewhere else, where you have no responsibility for them anymore. The cornerstones of The Trashing Technique are government sponsored bins that are somehow emptied of their contents on a weekly basis. No one knows for sure exactly how it works, they just knows it works.

After years of personal research on hoarding, it turns out that old magazines serve no observable purpose; the information retrieval process on a stack of magazines is sucktarded at best, and uneven weight distribution makes them less than ideal for in-home fort-building. I could give them to my neighbor but, he’s a stuck up jerk. You know who has no taste boundaries? The Department of Sanitation. They’ll take anything I can cram in their cans (that sounds weird, but go with it).

So the next time you think about putting those extra unusable dock adapters that came with your new cell phone into a drawer simply because, “You never know,” you do know. You’ll never use them. And the novelty bobble head Bin Laden that someone gave you for your birthday is only fun the first second you see it. After that, it’s another miniature roommate to deal with. Just because you have space doesn’t mean you have to fill it. You don’t
jam old pennies and phone cords into your mouth and nose just because
they’ll fit there, do you? Well, do you??? ANSWER ME.

So stop being a filthy hoarder. Take all the stuff you don’t normally use and Trash It. You will feel lighter and more in control. Think of it as “filing it into forever” or at least “wiping the excess poo off your brain’s bum.”

Trashing uses the latest in landfill technology to streamline your home or workplace.

Image: Chris Hardwick/Nerdist

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  1. I wrote an essay all about this, how hard it is to throw things out, and traced most of it back to being six and finding that my mother had thrown away a perfectly good stuffed animal of mine named “Ducky.”
    I abhor your advice. When the day comes that you and I are stuck on a desert island you’ll find yourself wanting a stuffed duck and me, laughing in pure rapture over how well-prepared I was.

  2. Gef says:

    Humm, my girlfriend sister has 50 years of their fathers (got that) Playboys in the garage. It’ s been there like, humm 7 years? This weekend her sister said she want to toss them, I’m, tempted to sell them on Craigslait but then part of me is like why bother?

  3. Liz says:

    A-fucking-men is right…and I’m an atheist!

  4. will says:

    the only use i see in magazines is informing on video games you ( i read gameinformer all time) and if you absolutely have to tear out an ad page to use as toilet paper.

  5. geek says:

    I can stop being filthy, I mean I shower often, but gypsy? Not until I can have some kind of gene therapy. Damn my family for being from the wrong side of all the tracks.

  6. Phil says:

    But… but I thought being a filthy gypsy was sexy. Well great, now I’ll have repeatedly introduce a blunt object to the head of the guy who sold me on that load of garbage.

    *Leaves the room for several moments before returning with a taxidermied squirrel covered in a mysterious crimson goo*

    See what you did? Your advice has just cost someone the full functionality of his brain!

    At any rate… I too suffer from Packtarius Ratius (an unclever term that I came up with for Pack Rat Syndrome). I have an old Dell laptop with a dead backlight sitting in a closet because I “might get it fixed someday”. Yeah, right. Like I’m really going to shell out an absurd amount of cash to repair a computer that’s more obsolete than the Intellivision.

    Good post man, good post!

  7. zerocrossing says:

    You have not found the infinite closet known as “eBay.” Instead of putting your junk in a conventional closet, if you put your junk in this ultracloset, you’ll get money that barely clutters up your bank account! Then if you ever decide you want the thing you put in your ultra closet, it’s there! For junkier things Craigslist works well too.

  8. Grommon says:

    Recently, I started packing up boxes for the move when all of a sudden it hit me, what the hell is all of this CRAP?! I went from one box to the next throwing out old computer parts that are obsolete, cables for devices I don’t have any more, books I’ll never read… At the end of my week long rampage I realized I just woodchippered my couches and my king sized water bed.

    A futon mattress and a Macbook Pro is all I need.

  9. R.J. says:

    My family is moving, so we have taken the art of trashing to heart.

  10. Sonya says:

    The before/after picture you’ve posted is awesome! The before looks like my husbands “bookcases”. I’m emailing him this post. Thank you.

  11. Shiri says:

    don’t trash it. craigslist it! your trash is someone elses treasure which you can sell so you have money to buy more crap!

  12. Xtian Bretz says:

    Thanks. I might go clean now.

  13. Michelle says:

    Excellent public service announcement. Though, I’d love to see a follow up post with advice on the dreaded “reverse directory” trashing effect in which your shit shows up at 3 a.m. and demands to be repatriated.

  14. Isn’t this an older article that you posted again.

  15. LisaG says:

    Ah! Thank you for the link to I’m in the middle of moving and the paper was easy to recycle. But the electronics have been propagating throughout several moves because I never knew how to recycle them.

  16. amanda says:

    “No one knows for sure exactly how it works, they just knows it works.”

    haha did gollum write this?

  17. mike says:

    I like to think of myself as something of a minimalist, but I still have loads of shit. I try, I really do, but it just keeps coming like a zombie army. Years ago, I trashed an entire basement of my shit – 15 trashbags. Now I have the 1 year rule. If I haven’t touched it in a year, goodbye.

  18. Gino says:

    Amen! Our brains should be nuked when we’re babies to believe that Old = Uncool. From gadgets to paper to clothes – if you haven’t touched it in a while, you never will so just get rid of it. If anything else it gives you an excuse to buy something new to fill the space 🙂

  19. Chris Hardwick says:

    YES I am Archie Bunker. Exactly the way he would go off on his gypsy tirades about streamlining his home life.

    YES this post was one of my original posts that pre-dates Nerdist. Only four people read my blog back then, so I wanted to put it up again, where more eyes could see it.

    YES recycle what you can. It’s funny that people had to point this out, like no one would’ve realized that we have recycling. If you have electronics to get rid of, goto

    Thanks for the responses!

  20. Josh says:

    To answer your question, no I don’t stuff pennies and phone cords in my nose and mouth. They go directly into the old keester for safe storage. So I guess I’m like the Department of Sanitation in that way, stuffing trash in my can.

  21. I keep a box with all this stuff. It’s labeled eBay.

  22. MissyB says:

    Battags is a filthy gypsy!

    There it is.. It belongs to the universe now.

  23. didnt you post this sometime before?

  24. Plathismo says:

    My wife needs to read this. She refuses to accept that her pack-rattiness is just as much to blame as my messiness for the current state of our house.

  25. Felix says:

    Will you come by and clean my house too?

  26. I actually use this technique quite often, I’m glad it has a name 🙂

    Now if I could just get my mom to trash her collection of pine cones and sticks that might one day, but never will, turn into some sort of craft, which, when you think about it, could also be thrown out. What purpose would a pine cone on a stick serve?

  27. irishis says:

    and when you want to feel good about trashing try I gave a big ole box of that stuff away – somebody actually wanted it!

  28. Cleo says:

    Ha, ha, very funny, wouldn’t been nice to at least mention recycling though…recycling and ‘trashing’ both get rid of the junk, so why not do something about finite resources while cleaning out? e.e *goes to hug a tree*

  29. Steve says:

    Chris, I know you read 4 Hour Workweek and Ferriss’s love of the 80/20 rule.

    Try to 80/20 your whole house and you can get rid of all kinds of stuff. 80/20 your closet – you probably only wear 20% of the stuff in there and the other 80% just sits collecting dust.

    You can get rid of all kinds of stuff when you realize it never gets any use!


  30. thisisjohnny says:

    i love moving because it actually forces me to trash stuff. when you start going over things item by item, you realize how little you happen to use that item and how little you’d miss it if it were gone. you just need to be honest with yourself.

  31. Katy says:

    Chrissy, you are too adoreable! And your cow voice is to die for.

  32. Jaz says:

    Well good goddamn timing with this post, Chris! My family and I have to move by July 1st and I’ve become a trashing fiend, much to my family’s dismay. But fie on their dismay! Once I compelte a trashing session their eues widen with understanding and exceptance. That’s right, exceptance bitches!

  33. scarr says:

    I experimented with this technique a year ago (girlfriend moving in, 15 years of accumulated guitar/music magazines and more moved out), so I can attest to its power and usefulness. A year later, I still remember (with my portable brain) what I learned from the mags, and I still haven’t found the time to look up the stuff I thought I’d want to get back to someday.

    This reminder might give me the confidence to eliminate all the stuff (notes, texts, etc.) I have saved from university. The need to derive mass–energy equivalence has yet to factor into my day-to-day.

  34. First thing to mention is, that is some impressive Photoshop work with that sweet ass font. Secondly though, I know where you are coming from. I am the king of collecting things for “someday”. I have a box full of characters I have played in the past twenty years that at some point I might realize I don’t need anymore.

    I have a box of cords and things that someday we are going to definitely need downstairs someplace. It’s really pathetic, but I think with your posting I learned I am not alone and I should just bow my head in shame and start the cleansing. It’s kind of like a back up bowel, it’s time to take the Ex-lax to the junk that’s been piling up.

    Thanks for the inspiration.


  35. MatC says:

    Oh yes. you’re so completely right.
    Cram it in their cans is right.
    I tell my wife this every day.

    One little thing.
    Who are you, fucking Archie Bunker?
    Filthy Gypsies? dude, honestly, come on.

  36. spm08588 says:

    wtf, lemme get this straight!? There’s some government sponsored program (ARRA i bet) where they just come to my house to pick this stuff up? Wow. Umm, magazines work better as fort fodder when you use caulking betwen every page, but whatever i gotta recyclist who’ll take ’em.

  37. SJ says:

    I’m forwarding this to my hubby. He comes from a long line of packrats. he wanted to keep our son’s umbilical stub. NOW THAT’S JUST NASTY.

  38. MsJG says:

    I learned the art of trashing growing up a Marine Corps brat… the frequent moves led to frequent cleansing of the cabinets. However as I have grown older and more socially responsible (heh) I now keep a cardboard box in a corner where all of those still viable but unwanted products get placed. When the box is full, it gets emptied at the local Salvation Army or Goodwill.

  39. Deltus says:

    That’s a skill I have to learn. I’m going to try to find an uncluttered part of my house and hang my head in shame there.

    Fuck, can’t find an uncluttered part.

  40. barb says:

    Awesome timing! Just so happens I’ve barricaded myself in my house today for the dreaded task of spring cleaning and organizing. That was the swift kick in the arse to get back to work and stop webcrastinating….

  41. eye-shuh says:

    OR you can recycle some of those cell phones and computer materials safely, and avoid filling a landfill.


  42. BillW says:

    I got the first dose of this medicine during a layoff when I needed help carrying 10 cartons of collected crapola from my cubicle to my car. 8 boxes went to recycling. 1 went back to the office for my next job and 1 sat around until it was sorted into about 50% keep and 50% toss. The second dose came during a downsize from 4BR house to much smaller townhouse after 17 years. There was no place to put 17 years of ‘might need it someday’. But, it is a process (I’m about 50% there) and requires tenacity to maintain. I’m still learning to be ruthless.

  43. Colleenky says:

    Awesome post. So very true. (Not that I’ve done it yet!) I’d just like to remind folks that they can easily recycle their e-waste: old computers, monitors, cell phones, power strips, etc. 🙂

  44. alli says: