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?
I use shoe boxes and hand-me-down storage bins. I read somewhere that we’re more likely to use organizing devices if they’re aesthetically pleasing. Of course, I can’t remember where I read it or what proof they had, but that tidbit always stuck with me.
Not trying to justify spending on boxes! I use old carboard boxes in my closets. But for things on the kitchen countertop, I searched for nice-looking containers. My one criteria: used. There are ways to get around everything.
Absolutely, there are ways around everything for sure! And yes, I am with you – not sure I would like used card board boxes on my countertops if I needed storage there 🙂
I use yogurt/cottage cheese/sour cream containers for leftover or frozen food storage. They work great, come in three handy sizes, and importantly the lids from all sizes fit all the containers. They also stack very well together. This makes them very easy to store.
I do find I have a problem with jam/peanut butter/sauce jars. I occasionally use them for storage, but in the meantime I find myself saving so many of them that they become a storage issue in themselves. I have a whole cupboard shelf of them, an several tucked into the back of other cupboards as well.
I have issues with glass containers too; I have way too many of them. I am mostly using them in my garage now to hold random stuff!
For moving if you got to walmart around midnight they are giving away those big boxes for cereal and stuff as they restock.
That’s how I moved =)
Great ideas! I use the clear plastic boxes salad mixes come in from Costco to store small toys in my “Grandkids” room. They fit on a bookcase and can be stacked 2 or 3 at a time.
Now THAT is a great idea Linda. Thanks!
I use shoe boxes and I decorate them myself by wrapping them with inexpensive wrapping paper or or shelf lining paper. Plain brown paper can also be used. I like to wrap them all in the same paper that way the look more organized and uniform. Add a little tag to the front of each box and write on the tag so you know at a glance what each box contains.
You can also spray paint the metal tops of glass jars. Paint them matching or coordiating colors so it looks like a set.
Great stuff Penny, and good idea about painting the tops. Had not thought of that!
I took some sturdy tomato boxes from a restaurant and spray-painted them all to match for storage containers. They are sturdy and of a similar style, and all have sturdy lids as well…
This idea is great if you don’t live in a roach area of the country. Roaches like to eat the glue on boxes that have had tape on them and grocery bags, etc. We find that boxes tend to attract bugs. Just a thought. Thanks for all your great ideas!
I was going to say the same thing Shelley did!! ROACHES love boxes whether they are in your house or garage. BUT, if you live in an area of the country where that is not an issue, it is a great idea!! You could even have your kids decorate them to hold their toys…might make them more likely to remember and put them away??
I’ve used shoeboxes in the past to hold photos, pieces of paper, and what not. One of the best ideas was turning empty, unused shoeboxes and other boxes into gift boxes. I would cut out wrapping paper to fit the whole box in two separate pieces, and use permanent glue sticks to glue the wrapping paper to the box. I was able to reuse these boxes for about 3 to 4 years before finding another use for them.
I also save glass and plastic containers to hold pens, pencils, paintbrushes, pins, tacs, rubber bands, wall paint, hairpieces, and who knows what else.
I am constantly telling family and friends that I will reuse filing folders, and paper.
Thanks for all the ideas. I hope mine help some.
We used cardboard boxes of all sorts until we had a mouse problem – all those cardboard boxes went into recycling and we got heavy-duty plastic bins. Sadly, seems to be a necessary evil. I do like to reuse clear plastic containers (that held rice, etc) for other dry goods in the pantry – just write the name of the new contents on the lid.