SamplesFree samples abound almost everywhere. They’re spritzed at you in the cosmetics section at your local department store. They’re bestowed upon you at Costco via colorful toothpicks. They’re mailed to you in crackly cellophane packages and nestled alongside the running shoes you ordered online. And they’re pressed upon you in the subway station and at the ballgame. From what I’ve noticed around town, many people accept the free samples they’re offered. After all, we can always use another perfume sample, mini detergent packet, or sparkly lip gloss, right?

Well, that depends on your version of organizational bliss.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with samples. I discovered my favorite lip gloss after receiving a sample of it from my friends at Sephora. A friend of mine discovered her favorite detergent after she received a sample of it in the mail. And other people I know have discovered their favorite candy bars and lotions thanks to the samples in their midst.

If you tend to enjoy trying new products, it’s helpful to consider how samples can impact your version of organizational bliss. Exhibit A: During my bathroom overhaul several months ago, I discovered that we owned way too many of those cute little hotel shampoo and conditioner bottles. Sure, the products smell delightful, but how many travel-size cleansers does one household need?! When we realized we had so many of these samples (who knew?!), we concluded that it’d be best to share most of them with others. The ones we saved, we stored together in a fabulous organization bin. (Previously they were stored in a few different places, which is why we didn’t know we had a few too many.) Now that they’re all in one place, we can be thrilled about curbing our enthusiasm for adding to our mini shampoo bottle collection in the future.

Tip: By storing like items together, you know how much of those items you have. This is a great way to save money because it helps you to not purchase that which you do not need.

Although they appear innocuous, samples can quickly add to a sense of clutter in the home…even for those of us who enjoy decluttering! If the samples you accept are put to use shortly after appearing in your home, their purpose is carried out and they are playing a useful role. But if free samples hitch a ride home with you and then proceed to gather dust, you may want to consider how these little wonders are impacting your version of organizational bliss.

After discovering our collection of mini shampoo bottles, I starting thinking about the times when it’d be best for me to steer clear of samples, and the motive and thought behind why I might accept a product sample. My internal dialogue during that time was quite interesting, if I do say so myself, and the following questions came to mind that I now ask myself when presented with a sample I may want to accept:

  • Do I truly need this item?
  • Do I really want to “try out” this item? Why?
  • Do I really want another [insert item name here] in our house?

Although I was never one to accept a ton of samples, considering these questions has been really helpful to me. For me, I’ve found that saying no to almost all free samples has supported my love of decluttering. It more closely resonates with my philosophy about not needing “schtuff” to be happy. And it has helped me make wise choices that resonate with me.

This is not to say that I will never accept a free sample again or that I think samples are evil. Quite the contrary! I just know that by accepting samples with care, I’m choosing to use ones that will really be beneficial to our household and supportive of my version of organizational bliss. After all an organized life isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being peaceful. Wishing you much logistical joy as you ponder what from the samples world works best for you. Cheers!

* Photo by Oleg Ivanov

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