Just like hermit crabs moving from shell to shell, containers can become homes to many different things over the course of their use-cycle. As one product is used up, another can be housed. Finding exactly the right vessel can be an exciting scavenger hunt, in which you start to see your objects a little differently. Keep a cycle of reuse and repurposing alive in your home – and your tidying environmentally friendly and self-contained.
“Storing your possessions is like weaving a beautiful rainbow in your home.”
Before you think about permanent storage, finish discarding first. Be sure you have gone through the critical process of assessing and discarding before filling up storage containers with things you don’t love. Luckily, you can repurpose containers even during the discarding process. Use an ice tray or muffin tin to sort and categorize small objects. Use old boxes to fill with items to discard or donate so you can immediately remove them from your living space.
When the time comes to store the items that spark joy and you are in need of perfectly-sized repositories, it only takes a little imagination and elbow grease to repurpose used items. Your house may already contain the exact storage solutions you are looking for – here are some of our favorites.
Candles often come in beautiful glass jars that are perfect for holding makeup brushes, pens and pencils, cotton balls, keys, sponges…the list goes on. After the candle has burnt down to the bottom, there are a couple ways to get the last bits of wax and wick out: leave it in the freezer overnight and pop the wax out the next day or fill with boiling water to loosen the wax, then wipe out.
Glass jars that used to contain foods like jam, honey or pickles are excellent storage options. After a scrub and removing the label with a little degreasing cleaner, these jars with lids can hold different foods like leftovers, spices, nuts or small household items like fasteners, matchbooks and reusable straws. Larger jars can house kitchen tools like spatulas and wooden spoons or grains like flour and rice. Customize with a new label.
Though you can purchase our recycled fiberboard hikidashi boxes, you should also keep an eye out as packaging and boxes come your way. Gift, shoe, cereal and tissue boxes can become drawer dividers and closet organizers. Arrange your toiletries in a shoebox, place your important papers or office supplies in a gift box lid or cut a cereal box on the diagonal to hold cookbooks and magazines. Extra points for covering the boxes with craft paper and decorating with your own flair.
One of the best re-envisionings of tiny containers is as travel toiletry vessels. Used beauty product jars and little bottles are great for travel-sized versions of your shampoo, conditioner, soaps, moisturizers, creams and sunscreens. Decant the liquids and creams from your bulk purchases into the smaller containers. Gold stars abound when you take bulk containers to refilling shops for even more sustainable consumption.
Marie doesn’t recommend oddly shaped containers that don’t store neatly, but the exception is for containers that spark joy themselves. Those you find beautiful and perfectly sized for a particular item that bring you that rush of delight every time you use them do belong in your house. If your glasses, vitamins or first aid kit fit perfectly into a proudly displayed, oddly sized tin and lifting that lid makes you smile, then the container has transcended itself.
“The world is full of handy storage items.”
Repurposing old containers presents a creative challenge that saves money, helps us tread lightly on the earth and makes tidying fun and easy. Keep your eyes peeled and mind open – you might be surprised how much pleasure can be found in the discovery of a perfectly suited vessel for storing favorite belongings.