10 Things You Really Don’t Need To Be Carrying Around In Your Handbag

It's time to dump those non-essential items. You know, like that passport you insist on carrying around for no good reason


by Pandora Sykes |
Published on

Once upon a time, women had tiny little purses, on dinky little chains, which contained one pot of loose powder, a lipstick and perhaps a cigarette or 50. Fast forward 50 years and she’s still got a cigarette, or 50 – but she’s also got a diary the size of a Mario Testino coffee table book, a* Frosted* novelty umbrella, a make-up bag containing at least five nail varnishes that she hasn’t looked at since 2007 and, on some occasions, an entire undrunk long-forgotten bottle of Chardonnay.

This can’t be good for our backs, right? Newsflash: it’s not. Osteopath Robin Lansman explains that heavy bags are giving us all back pain. Not only that, but, ‘Carrying a heavy handbag can cause more than just shoulder and pack pain. Habitually carrying a heavy weight in the crook of your elbow can lead to a condition called thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) where the weight creates extra tension on the nerves and blood vessels in the neck and over the collar bone. This may result in you being less able to grip and can lead to headaches.’ In short? ‘Carry a smaller handbag that is less likely to be overloaded.’

Or if you still can’t cope with trading your oversized bag for a clutch, it’s time to stop toting around the kitchen sink. And believe us, there are definitely some ‘essentials’ you can dump. Like...

The two-litre bottle of water


It’s terribly good to drink lots of water. Flushes out your system, yada yada yada. But unless you’re an athlete, you don’t need a two-litre repository of water on your person at all times. Carry around a diddy 300ml bottle instead and re-fill as you go along. It’s illegal for a café to deny you water, so do be brazen about going into Starbucks et al and getting hydrated, even if you aren’t carrying a Starbucks bottle.

The make-up bag containing every piece of make-up you own


The make-up bag is a girl’s mythological security blanket. We want the full beauty arsenal on us in case we ever need to touch up our face, but in reality you slap it all on in the morning and barely look at yourself all day. So why not invest in few mini bottles? Try your favourite foundation and scent in miniature form and leave the extremely intricate eye shadow palette and contouring kit at home. Except maybe for Fridays.

A hardback book


The Goldfinch actually damaged my back – I fear permanently,’ says one Debrief staffer, of Donna Tartt's 773 page novel. Yes, the print publishing industry still needs supporting, but leave your beautiful hardbacks at home, and for the commute, try a Kindle or an iPad. Even better, opt for a much cheaper/lighter Kobo e-reader.

An endless supply of tampons


You never really know when Flo’s going to arrive, so it’s good to have a few tampons stashed in your bag. A few means a few, though. You don’t need a box of 24, floating around the bowels of your handbag like tadpoles in a scuzzy pond. What’s more, when tampons have been in your handbag too long, they mysteriously shed both their wrapper and applicator, so that if you swing your bag onto your shoulder too zealously, they fling out like newborn mice. Imagine that happening* with all 24*. That’ll persuade you to carry just two.

Your passport


OK, it doesn’t weigh much, but WHAT IN GOD’S NAME ARE YOU DOING CARRYING AROUND YOUR PASSPORT? It just takes one drunk night and before you know it you’ve had to use up your last holiday day to queue for four hours at the Embassy, before handing over £150. If you can't drive, apply for a provisional licence and put that in your wallet instead.

An emergency alcohol supply


The bottle of aforementioned unopened Chardonnay may have been an unusual mistake – but a handful of miniatures is not. Stop worrying about there being no spirits. If you live in the UK, there are always going to be spirits nearby. Stop being a cheapskate and leave the tiny bottle of JD at work, where you found it in the first place.

A padlock


You have a padlock for your gym locker. But you haven’t seen your gym locker in months. Best put the padlock back in the drawer, eh?

Tons and tons of pennies


‘I have £452 worth of pennies in my bag,’ approximated one Debrief staffer who is never prone to hyperbole. Take your wallet out of your bag and you will often find that the weight of it halves, immediately. Give some pennies to charity, start a coin saucer in your house, or actually spend them for once. Contactless card payment is no longer ‘the coolest thing ever’ and you don’t have to use it everytime you buy a packet of Munchies.

Your laptop


This is just optimism. You think you will be struck by creative juices when walking past a café. Maybe you do actually occasionally need it for work. Either way, you do not need it in your handbag every day – or if you do, try a backpack with padded straps and minimise the rest of the content.

A spare pair of shoes


You’re wearing heels and you want some flats for later, in case your feet get sore. Before you know it, a pair of moderately heavy Vans have taken up long-term residency at the bottom of your handbag, providing a very nice home for the multitudes of naked tampons floating around down there, too.

Follow Pandora on Twitter @pinsykes

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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