Friday, October 29, 2010

Reuse and Get Organized (Not Cluttered)

I decided to give some attention to that poor neglected middle child of the 3 R's (reduce, reuse, recycle).

I have been saving some of my best quality jars and food containers over the past months with the intention of one day giving them a thorough cleaning and using them for storage and organizational purposes.

The day finally came, and that part of me that loves organizing things was very, very happy.

Of course, saving too much stuff isn't good. That's why the part of me that loves to be organized and clutter-free is sometimes at war with the part of me that likes to reuse things.

Here are some rules I follow to help me strike an acceptable balance:
    • Be selective. I only save the best-quality containers (usually glass or number 5 plastics) with tight-fitting lids. 
    • What's in this thing, anyway?  Clear containers with no labels are easy to see through and make for better organization.  If the container is not clear, be sure to have an effective way to convey what's inside, like a good label maker.
    • Strive for uniformity. Choose to save containers for products you buy regularly, and build up a stockpile of containers of uniform sizes. This makes for better organization. If the containers stack when empty, all the better.
    • Consider safety.  Different types of plastics are designed for different purposes.  Be sure to think about whether the previous contents are compatible with the future contents, especially in relation to food items.
    • Have a good system for preventing clutter. Some might choose to clean as they go. However, I personally choose to save all my containers in a box marked "plastic containers to be reused for storage."  If my box is overflowing, that's when I know I'm saving too much and my effort to reuse is creating a cluttered mess!
    • You want it clean don't you? Before anything goes in the box, it gets an initial cleaning. When the box is full and I have some time to spend on it, I give everything in the box a more thorough cleaning with hot soapy water and bleach. I use Goo Goneto get rid of the labels. 

     Sometimes I need to remind myself why it's worth the extra trouble to reuse....
    • Save $. When you reuse a container, you don't have to buy new ones for organization. Duh.
    • Reduce trash times two. When you reuse a container, you save it from the recycle bin or landfill (at least temporarily). Even better, you completely avoid generating the trash that would have come from any new containers you might have purchased. 
    Want to know how I used my containers? Check out my post today on Raccoon School called Organizing Homeschool Supplies
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      1. Love this post. I'm inspired to start saving quality class jars. Can you give us an after photo showing what you are going to put in each one?

        Enjoy your weekend.

      2. I love this post too. I also struggle with the "wannabe" clutter free part of myself.
        Thanks for sharing these ideas.

      3. Hi Carolyn and Sandy! Thanks for your comments! Organizing is fun, right?

        Carolyn - it's so funny that you mention the "after photo". I actually posted a pic on my other blog (Raccoon School) to show how I used my containers. It's called Organizing Homeschool Supplies.

        Check it out here:

      4. I've been saving jars to organize my pantry. No more random bags of beans, grains, nuts, etc. just sitting in piles on the shelves. I do have a bit of an issue with the jars not being uniform and some still having labels, or parts of labels, that don't come off easily. It's a work in progress!

      5. Great post with sound advice.
        I saved the link to your website and hope it reaches many others who will enjoy it.
        My motto has always been "When you bring something new into your home, give away something" that way the clutter gathering deminishes and someone else get´s something they want.
        A win win situation!
        Thank you for your great posts.

      6. Thanks for sharing this post, really nice content

        Reusable Containers