Stores like The Container Store do a brisk business (even in this economy? I am not sure) of selling plastic boxes, bags, containers, etc. to people looking to organize their home. But you do not need to head to the store to spend money on containers, as there are plenty of things you can use for small storage in your house other than new plastic from China. Case in point? The closet in my office full of shoe boxes holding everything from computer supplies, blank DVD’s and CD’s, random office supplies, and a ton of my wife’s teaching stuff. There is not one container in that closet that we paid for, as we have been able to re-purpose every shoe box that came into our house instead. On the front of each box we taped a piece of scrap paper where we were able to label the contents of the box. Total cost? $0, other than the shoes that the boxes came from!
However, you don’t even need to buy shoes to get shoe boxes…just head to your closest shoe store and ask the clerk behind the counter for any boxes headed for the trash and/or recycling bin. They are usually more than happy to get rid of these boxes, and you should be more than happy to take new free storage containers off their hands! If you need bigger boxes for whatever reason, try just about any store that you frequent – most of the time they will give you whatever you need. Liquor stores especially have great boxes that are really strong for heavier items.
Aside from boxes from these stores, you can also re-purpose other things that find your way into your house for storage. Plastic yogurt containers are great for art supplies or compost materials being held in the house prior to heading outside (we store ours in the freezer so it doesn’t stink), glass sauce jars are good for pencil holders, nail and screw containers in the garage, or change holders, and shallow plastic frozen food containers are great for making junk drawer separators. Most anything that makes it’s way into your house can be reused for something else, especially for your storage needs. Storage does not need to be pretty; it needs to be useful. Thinking outside of the box enables you to see a way to use anything and everything instead of spending your hard earned money on new plastic containers.
The only containers we have had to buy at a store are the big giant bins for storing items in the garage. This keeps out critters and moisture, and are used for our emergency supplies, stuff from our wedding, and some holiday decorations. But for most everything else, we have been able to keep our money in the bank and just use whatever we come across. There is plenty out there to use instead of buying new! What do you use for storage around your house?