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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