Container Clutter Confessions

In packing up our apartment last week, I noticed a trend.

First it was just two, but then I found three more.

And then there were more.

And suddenly I was looking at about a dozen shoebox-size cardboard boxes and containers. All empty!

I was saving them in case I needed to put something in them. They are such a useful size, right?

But here’s the thing: boxes and containers are only useful when something goes in them. As long as they’re empty, they’re just taking up space. It’s an advanced decluttering skill to let go of the containers that you no longer need, and I didn’t need them.

So my container clutter confession today is:

I tend to value cardboard boxes too highly.

I’ll always be able to find a new shoebox if I need one, so I don’t need to collect and save empty ones any more.

What kind of container clutter might be hiding in plain sight at your home?

(Potential targets: butter tubs, glass jars, plastic totes, baskets…)
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. When we moved into this house I made the commitment that I would only put empty storage containers in the attic. I have continued to purge and continued to put empty storage containers in the attic.

    I am guilty of saving shoe boxes, but only the ones that are made of super heavy duty cardboard and have the top attached. I rarely buy shoes and have found that I have needed them from time to time.

    As I continue to declutter I may find that I get rid of all those storage containers as well, but for now I am proud that those storage containers are all that are housed in my attic.

  2. Always the cardboard – which I despise! It’s dusty, and unreliable in our humidity. I have a glass jar thing, too, though I do occasionally use them. I’m just going to have to accept the fact that where we live there is no glass recycling and pitch a bunch of them.

    My goal is to be cardboard free in ’11. If the stuff I’m storing is important enough to keep, surely it should be put away in a stable container, if not a pretty decorative one.
    the cottage child´s last post…shes nothing if not current

  3. It’s like you have a secret window into that kitchen cupboard of mine which is FULL of glass jars!

    Like the previous poster, we don’t have glass recycling, and I hate throwing them away. And 2 Christmases ago I actually used a couple to give gifts, so of course ever since then I’ve saved them all in case I ever use them for gifts again…

  4. Sandra Gonzales says:

    I just found about a dozen spaghetti sauce jars. I use them to dispose of bacon fat. The thing is I hardly cook bacon. Go figure.

  5. I do the same thing! While cleaning out my studio, I found close to a dozen extra plastic shoe boxes, “great” cardboard shipping boxes, and loads of other containers. You’re right – they’re only good if you put something into them. So, if I don’t… off they’re going!

  6. I’m a basket and carboard box girl for sure. But I know one of my worst holds are sacks – gift sacks, plastic bags, paper bags with handles from various stores. I have held on to two Dunkin’ Donuts plastic bags because I didn’t want to use them because I didn’t know when I would be at another Dunkin’ Donuts store again. {gulp} Wow. Confession is good for the soul and I’m off to toss some bags!
    Carrie´s last post…Wednesday Book Reviews

  7. We have a closet full of original boxes to things. a HUGE iMac box, pretty much anything electronic: cameras, laptops, Kindle. We are in the military and move every couple of years and my husband swears it is easier to hang on to the original packaging for these more expensive items than to risk trying to pack it ourselves and having it get broken in the move. We are living in a small space so we don’t really have ROOM for these boxes but they stay anyway. We are moving in June and I’m hoping to get him to purge the boxes after we get to our new home. Do you have an opinion on saving those types of boxes?
    Tricia´s last post…Laikonik Once-A-Year Books

    • We have a similar dilemma – mostly, we keep big ticket purchase boxes for the length of the mfr warranty, then recycle. Our moves have never involved a trip overseas, so this may not be helpful, but we move electronics in the trunk or cargo of our vehicles, with moving blankets for protection. We’ve also put them in the moving van that way, but just slid them down inside boxes, and added additional blankets around them until the box was full enough to stabilize the piece. We always rent several dozen blankets when we move, but I’ve also used clean towels and linens, since the tv and the sheets are the first things we need/want to get to upon arrival, it just seemed logical.

      FWIW, I keep the handful of electronics boxes closed up in contractor bags out in the garage. Interior real estate for empty boxes is where I draw the line. You could also flatten out the boxes and store them under a bed, and mark the styrofoam materials for each item – tv, dvd, etc. and put those all into one bag in the garage or closet. I’ve done that before with success, but marking the packing materials is a must.
      the cottage child´s last post…shes nothing if not current

  8. Glass jars are great for votives and tealights… A group of 6 or 8 is so sparkly in winter. I use jars to corral pens, crayons, water bottle caps, clothespins to fasten plastic bags…start using them!

    • You are my kind of girl. I would rather repurpose something if possible before throughing it out. There are dozens of uses for glass jars. If they have good lids they can be used as cannisters for coffee, cornstarch, cornmeal, etc.

      • I just spent an entire evening doing just that. So exotic and adventurous, right? I used up my jar collection storing and labeling dry goods in the pantry. Now they’re not only dry and safe from any bugs, but pretty, too!

        • Oh this so sounds like me. :-)

        • Every time I read what someone else is doing like this it inspires me to go home and do the exact same thing. That is my weekend plans. Declutter and repurpose! I love to simplify my life and feel good about it at the same time.

          Keep up the great work!!!!

          • We just moved into a new apartment two weeks ago and this weekend is finally all free to do the after-move purge. And yes, I have jars in my kitchen cupboard right now – even though my closet doesn’t have hangers & clothes yet! I’ll be doing that winter candle thing, I think. What a great idea!

  9. When deciding to part with something you aren’t really using or need, my experience has been I am sad for about a minute. Close your eyes, drop it in the donation box or the trash can. Out of sight. Out of mind. You won’t think of it again.
    don_mae´s last post…Testing… Testing… Here’s My Test Quilted Star

  10. HA! “My name is Deb and I am a box-hoarder”. Last week I decided I needed more room in my studio and that meant clearing out room in a bookcase in the adjacent laundry room. There was a, I kind you not, 5 foot tower of boxes stashed between the bookcase and the wall. I was saving them to mail stuff , but really, I almost always use those flat-rate boxes, so O.U.T they went. I did save a couple of smaller ones for art stuff. Yesterday cleaning more in my studio and found 2 brand new flat -fold boxes I forgot about. Now I’m working on filling the containers I have and freeing the others!
    While I am hardly a neat-freak, there is something about storage containers that speaks to me. I had to make a concsious decision to just throw away most of the Christmas boxes, but admit to saving a few….
    deb´s last post…Hair- The Continuing Saga

  11. I had this revelation just before Christmas! I went through all my cupboards and closets and threw out all the empty containers that I saved because I thought they would be very useful. It felt so good! I also went through my collection of plastic food storage containers and got rid of the extra lids and containers with no lids. Simple but amazing how good it makes me feel!
    Carla´s last post…Microwave Popcorn

  12. Hm… is it unnecessary to hold on to them if you are doing it for an upcoming move?

    We knew we would be in this apartment for a year only and I couldn’t justify buying all new moving boxes. We gave most of them to my parents who were moving at the same time, but we kept quite a few.

    I guess my confession would be paper bags. I can’t seem to bring myself to throw out a perfectly good paper bag, especially if they have a sturdy handle. I’m not sure why because I never use them! Maybe it’s time to let go.
    Jennie´s last post…Interjectional Thoughts Or Why I Decorate With Books

    • I’m also keeping boxes (especially paper boxes with lids) for my next move – I don’t have a set date, but it’s highly likely to happen this year. They are the best size for moving lots of things, especially books. I feel a little weird about this, but they are kind of a pain to find and right now I have the room. But there are plenty of others in the basement (including one HUGE one an ottoman came in) that I can get rid of. It’s time to look through those and clear out and get the stacked paper boxes out of the way somewhere.

      My weaknesses are (at least) two fold: cute containers and plastic containers of basically all sizes. The other day I was contemplating buying more big plastic bins, even though I totally don’t know why. They were cheap, I guess, and in colors I liked. I have tons of plastic bins, and they are mostly way too big for storing things at this point in my life – nothing fills them so they end up being super weirdly multi-purpose: Christmas decorations/extra sheets/plates that don’t fit in these tiny cupboards. It’s insane.

      Cute storage I have in my house, but a lot of them are empty at the same time that I feel like I have stuff everywhere. It’s like I need to find the perfect use for them. Time to start putting things in them and out of the way, or get rid of all of this storage clutter.
      Emily´s last post…Christmas follow-up

  13. Glass jars, that I swear I will use for freezer jam or dried good storage *someday.*

    Plastic grocery sacks…

  14. My suggestion: If you have a lot of shoeboxes or shippingboxes, donate them via Cragelist or something similar.
    A friend of mine has a small craft-related business and she is always in desperate need of cardboard boxes to ship her material (they can be very pricy). It is the perfect solution for a persona like me… I really hate to throw away a good container.
    As for glass jars… I really wish I had more. I store spices and homemade flavoured salt in them.
    I have a big problem with boxes for glasses and cristals in general (the small boxes with special inserts). I can’t seem to throw them away. I always think that, in case I need to move again, I would really need them.

    • And those of us who are moving on very short notice would *really* appreciate them, too, please…

  15. I love cardboard and I feel especially accomplished if the boxes all nest together nicely. They do come in handy so it only encourages me in my hoarding. I’m convinced it is a genetic trait.
    wayside wanderer´s last post…New Year Reading

  16. Me too! In our last apartment we had a problem with mice in the cabinets under our sink. I got rid of them with a sonic thing (run with an extension cord into the cabinets). Still, I wasn’t sure if they would come back or not and since I didn’t want to chance having to clean all those dishes again (no dishwasher), I got some Rubbermaid containers to protect the pots and pans. The Rubbermaids fit perfectly in THOSE cabinets but I haven’t found a use for them in our new place. They just aren’t the right size for my needs now. Maybe I should yard sale ‘em!
    Frances´s last post…Homemade Toothpaste

  17. Reminds me of when I cleaned out my bedroom over the Christmas holiday. I kept finding empty boxes tucked into the strangest places. Since I didn’t want to waste time finding scissors or a knife to cut the tape and break it down, I just piled the empties on top of the dining room table to be dealt with all at one time. By the end of the “Great Purging”, you couldn’t see a bit of the table’s surface. Only then did I decide, “No more hording boxes.” Boxes that I wanted to keep are to be broken down right away and tucked into my outside storage locker…otherwise, out to the recycle bin they go. My closet is soooo much roomier now!

  18. I must confess that I do keep glass jars, but I limit myself to six at a time. They are extremely useful! I use one for holding the change I find in pockets while doing the laundry, one for corralling my daughter’s colored pencils, one to store bacon fat, one to fill with homemade chocolate syrup (yum!), one for homemade salad dressing, and one for storing cut onions, so they don’t stink up the fridge (much better than a plastic bag).

    I don’t have a shoebox problem. I just leave the boxes at the store, so they don’t even come into the house … okay, I’ll admit to having one or two for school diorama projects, but no more than that.

    Now, as for the bags. Guilty! I swear they breed in my closet.

    • I have a deep, deep love of baskets and brown paper gift bags.

      I justify it that they don’t take up a lot of space but I don’t use them all and hmmm, if I had to be 100% honest, I probably wouldn’t even go through them in this lifetime!

  19. I have a seasonal cardboard box disorder. In October and November I collect boxes of varying sizes so I can ship things to my kids for Christmas. This is before I know what I’m shipping. I then spend January and February gettig rid of them.

  20. Oh how I love my containers…I have “containers in waiting” here but not to worry I also have a container to hold my containers LOL. I guess that’s why I’m an organizing junkie :)

  21. I do the same thing! Boxes and scraps of ribbon, paper, fabric and random other odds and ends. I just can’t bring myself to part with them…

  22. Haha! I just put about 5 empty rubber totes in the back storage room in my basement! :) I guess I hope when I need to store something I think of them rather than buy new ones. And thanks for the reminder about butter tubs, cottage cheese tubs…all of those culprits. Need to clean out my stash!
    Nicole´s last post…sleeping success

  23. I just threw out – last night- all the shoe boxes our family of 6 has collected in the past three years. Yes, it was a lot. Why was I saving them? “They might be useful.”

    Turns out, that space they were taking up is a lot more useful. ;)

    I’m still hanging on to a few baby food jars, but they have to fit in the little box I’ve set aside for the purpose. What is it about containers that just screams, “Keep me?” And why do I keep listening?!
    Karen@CandidDiversions´s last post…Top 10 Ways to Improve A Dismal Day

  24. We tend to keep every possible receipt, ‘just in case….’. I don’t recall a time when I’ve ever needed that receipt I kept from Target when I bought bread and dog food, so I probably don’t really need them all. Our desk and bookshelves have tons of them. I think it’s definitely time to break that habit….

    • Been there. I have a husband who does this, so I just changed the container on him. Now, we dump all of our receipts (except the ones for major purchases, which get filed immediately with any manuals, guarantees, etc.) into the receptacle for the shredder. If for some reason, he *needs* to know how much we paid for toilet paper last month, he knows where to go.

      Once a month or so, I pay one of our kids a couple of bucks to shred the receipts and put them in the composter, where they’ll decompose until ready for use in vegetable garden.

      • Receipts for things that come with manuals get stapled to the manuals. A few other things with warranties get the receipts stapled to the warranty descriptions.

        The rest go in an envelope. I have one envelope per month, and at each new month, I look at all the receipts from the previous year and usually toss them all.

        Having my receipts in an easy-to-find place has helped me several times over the past couple of years since I started this system. Specifically, I use them when I want to return something and when I want to research my buying (such as comparing prices for staple goods across stores or adding up my purchases of fast food or groceries for the month).

  25. Oh Small Notebook I love you!!! I read this post and smiled!!! My husband hates to get rid of stuff – even boxes… we have a garage full of empty boxes, even for appliances we no longer have… Every year we have a garage declutter and get rid of boxes we no longer “need”… ANYWAY, I have found a use for smallish empty boxes… when I get rid of stuff, he notices the gap straight away and wants to refill it straight away, I have compromised: I pop a box in the gap… it needn’t have anything in it… which eases my “we can’t own this much stuff” pain and it eases his: ” I can’t stand empty spaces” pain… Happy together forever!!! I am working on losing the boxes but progress is slow, very slow!!!

    I have to say whenever we have to return something in its original packaging – he always comes up trumps and out performs everyone I know!!!

    • Here’s a tip…if a large box comes into your life, immediately put it to use as a container for donations. Unless you’re doing a HUGE purge, chances are that by the time it’s full, you’ll know if the item that came packed in it needs to be returned, so you can put it in the trunk of your car and drive it to the donation center without guilt.

  26. This is THE most interesting and comfortable comment thread because my name is Pamela and I’m GUILTY of all of the above (oh, except for the bacon fat, uh). And do you know what’s worst about being in such like-minded company? I’m cringing here as I spit out my confession. We’re packing to move and I despaired of ALL THIS STUFF and decided the only way to cope in the time given is to take it all and sort later. Consequently I have filled bin-bags and boxes with . . . . oh yes . . . . EMPTY containers of every sort. Including twelve of those fill-to-the-brim and vacuum flat storage bags, many shoe boxes, jars, tubs, file boxes and tupperware. *Deep and mournful sigh*
    Stop laughing. Now.

    • If possible when you move, have everything that needs to be sorted through put into the garage or basement, and then go through it and only take into the house what you are going to use and then put it away. My daughter was basically in the same position last year and that is what she had to do. Worked pretty well for her!
      Living the Balanced Life´s last post…There is a God and it isn’t me

  27. I was completely guilty of this until just last week!

    I am still somewhat hoarding shopping bags–not plastic, the REALLY nice handle paper bags. Baby steps.
    Tracey´s last post…Baby Weight

  28. Cute title. I just did a guest post for Megan at sorta crunchy about ways to repupose containers (not posted yet) … but nothing on shoe boxes ha ha. So yea get rid of em! I probably have a few i need to get rid of too! Thanks for the confession!

  29. I SO identified with this confession! I used to hoard empty boxes of all sizes in case I need them for the gifts I buy for birthdays, Christmas, etc. I also used to hoard plastic shopping bags and paper sacks. But I’m almost rehabbed now. I return the plastic shopping bags to Wal-Mart to be recycled and I try my best not to ever get paper sacks. The boxes were hard to let go but I now only occasionally keep a “good” small box!

  30. Good grief! I am going to print out this post and put it above my gift wrapping table. I, too, place way to high a value on boxes! For heaven’s sake! What is the worst that can happen if we throw them out!!? Right? Thanks for inspiring me to declutter in this way.
    Love your blog btw.
    Just added Google friend connect to mine and would love to have you stop by and join in the fun!
    CC´s last post…Snow- Snow- Snow!

    • I hang on to any carboard boxes I get (never many) as I am in a constant state of purging and not evrything can be put in a garbage bag, plus, I had to pay for the garbage bags, lol! As I empty out plastic containers, I am trying my best to get rid of them, although I have a large one right now I can’t bear the thought of donating it. Maybe hubby can use it back in that messy building he calls a workshop!
      Living the Balanced Life´s last post…Talk to God… and then listen

  31. I’m still laughing. Yesterday, I collapsed dozens of empty boxes from all over the house and carried them up to the attic – for storage. I did not even realize anything was amiss until I read your column. I’m not de-cluttering my life – I’m spending my time rearranging the clutter. Tomorrow the boxes GO !

  32. Oh, it’s not just me. I’m guilty of keeping the really nice shopping bags. I have no idea why. It always seems like a good idea. Like if I’m taking a bag I’m going to leave somewhere I need it to be a nice sturdy bag with good handles, problem is now I have way too many of them. Most people want to send the bags back home with me. So it’s an endless cycle.

    That and I save envelopes. Tons of envelopes. Why buy paper to make lists on when you can use an envelope? I don’t need the clutter of all of the envelopes though.

    Today’s task, get rid of most of the envelopes and bags.

    • Another useful way to use envelopes is for sending checks/money and signed forms back to school with your kids. Don’t buy envelopes for this! Those credit card companies are keeping you well supplied. Just save all those return envelopes you get in the mail (well, not all of them. But keep a good supply).

  33. I’ve got 13 carseat boxes (why I have them involves a crazy preschool story) that I’ve been keeping since August thinking we could use them to build a box fort. After realizing that wasn’t gonna happen, I figured I’d list them on Freecycle and folks could use them for holiday gifts, moving, etc. Un, nope, didn’t do that either. Maybe I’ll be inspired by this post to put them out with the recycling on Monday…

  34. Oh my – we are so good at keeping things we don’t need! I just cleaned out the empty cardboard flats that Mason jars come in – for some reason, I had been holding on to almost a dozen of them!! Thanks for the post.
    Rachel´s last post…Clarks Memorial Salad

  35. I’m guilty of ALL of these – glass jars (and we have glass recycling), plastic grocery sacks (I always have my reusable ones with me but my husband never manages to remember that his are in his truck), really nice paper sacks with handles, and cardboard boxes if they have lids (like what paper reams are shipped in). I cover them in pretty contact paper and use them for storage. And I do hoard them – I have one under my desk right now! Guilty!

  36. I hoard gift bags, boxes and tissue paper. My husband makes fun of the closet in the basement that is used to store them. I have a ton. I even hoard wrapping paper. I will even save the little pieces that are left over so my kids can use them -especially Christmas paper as they buy a lot of little trinkets at the Santa’s lane. I recycle used wrapping paper at the paper recycling as I could never figure out how people reuse that although I’m sure it won’t be long till I’m saving that too!
    Rochelle´s last post…Happy Birthday Babe!

  37. hahaha! This must be a woman thing! My husband gives me a hard time too – he has told me that my organizing habit is going to turn me into a hoarder. And then we had a good laugh thinking about an episode of that terrible & fascinating show, thinking about going into a hoarder’s house that was full of organizing paraphernalia! ha!

  38. I value these posts so much! I am loving this great inspiration and tackling these tasks head on. Away with those extra glass jars and baskets…today!

  39. With boxes/bags/containers, I sit them out in an obvious place, and they have one week to prove themselves useful. If that doesn’t happen, or I want the space before a week, they go into recycle.

  40. Oooh I am such a sucker for baskets!

    Its hard when you move often, too, as you never know when you’ll need a different one for a different space. We’ve held onto a lot of curtains through 5 moves and while we may not use them all at once, it saves money not to have to spend $40 everytime we move on different size window treatments!
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Hooray for Play!

    • Kait,
      I love baskets too! Or little trunk type boxes. I have been a bad pile-r (clean by piling stuff into piles!) and having cute baskets and boxes always made me feel better. Now that I am clearing stuff out and not piling so much anymore, I have boxes and baskets that are empty, but they are SO cute! Can’t get rid of them!
      Living the Balanced Life´s last post…Talk to God… and then listen

  41. My confession is that I’m a bag lady :S I have numerous bags in every shape, size, and material. This bag fedish started in College, I wore one outfit to school, another to my first job(School kitchen between classes) and yet another to my evening job(a barber in a local town) I had to carry clothes, hair and make-up supplies, shoes, perfume, etc. and of course I’m OCD about having everything organized and in its place, hense the bags! I don’t use hardly any of those bags now, they just collect dust in my closet… maybe its time to de-clutter? :)

  42. If you don’t have glass recycling, glass jars are always welcome at opshops (thrift stores/charity shops)for people to use for making jam, and for storage.

    I use them for practically all my storage in the pantry as I buy most dried foods in bulk, saves on packaging (and money) and stuff looks good in glass jars.

  43. I am fiercely anti-clutter, YET I have a closet in a spare room shoved full of boxes! I need to get rid of at least some, but I seem to have an irrational fear (haha) of getting rid of one that would be the perfect size for mailing something! It kills me to have to pay money for a box at the store or post office. I have many out of town family and friends, and mail stuff more frequently than most. BUT my box hoard is out of hand!
    LLM´s last post…Philip Yancey on faith and doubt

  44. hahaha
    does anyone really need 8 dozen butter containers? even when freezer is fully stocked i have enough for the neighbours on both sides (should they run out!!!!)
    and i’ve been collecting jars to make jam for about 10 years. i put the orchard in 5 years ago and so far no fruit. but hey, when it all starts to fruit up i’ll NEVER fill the jars i have!
    thanks for the admission.
    i’m thinking i know my jobs for today…

  45. Baskets. Large, small, with lids or without, with handles or not, rush, willow, straw … SURELY they’ll come in handy!
    alexa´s last post…WOYW Wednesday

  46. Haha, same here: cardboard boxes, cardboard suitcases, jars, baskets, plastic food containers… You really got me here!
    Yvonne´s last post…And there we are in 2011

  47. For me, right now, it’s the ‘free’ plastic boxes that sandwich and deli meat comes in. I keep telling myself I’m going to do a project to organize DIY supplies (screws etc) but it may not actually happen!

  48. Dianna Cline says:

    Oh yeah…Yvonne….anything that will hold something…I “might” need. Too funny….I’d never thought of all that empty stuff before. I have to laugh at me!! :)

  49. Over Christmas while doing the kitchen declutter I gave away about 20 plastic containers with lids etc…. I’d been saving them for freezing up meals – but already have several glass containers for this! It was an “in case”… now we just have to make sure we don’t get new container clutter ;)
    angelvalerie´s last post…compassion and mercy…

  50. As a teacher I seem to have tons of empty containers, some at school and some out in my garage! But yet when I go to Walmart or Target and see a cute container it’s SO incredibly hard to resist!
    Julie´s last post…Voyage of the Dawn Treader

  51. Denise C. says:

    Mine would be glass peanut butter jars. I got rid of most, but have a few. They work well to stash chocolate chips or M & Ms in the fridge.

    • I have read 2 people here using jars for this kinda stuff. I will have to start doing that. I always have a half an onion in the fridge it seems, but the ziplock bag gets thrown away in between. My peanut butter jar is plastic and would be the perfect size!
      Living the Balanced Life´s last post…Talk to God… and then listen

      • That is a GREAT idea! If I put onions in the fridge, they either get saran wrapped or in a ziploc bag & it still stinks up the fridge, glass washes really well, & there should be no onion stink! :)

  52. I just organized a new closet (we just finished a basement remodel) and one shelf is set aside for shipping stuff…I’m keeping the boxes that fit on that shelf, plus a bag of packing peanuts and some inflatable things. The rest, we recycle. I used to hoard these things because I felt like I never had a box when I needed to ship something…of course it was just that I couldn’t find them! It is so freeing to have just enough and get rid of what we don’t need.

    That said, I hoard pickle jars for bacon grease/roasting pan goo.

    Love the idea of posting on Craigslist/Freecycle, though…
    Jessica´s last post…Thursday smatterings

  53. I am so bad that I have containers for my containers! I had several unopened boxes of “tupperware” and last weekend I decided to stop the insanity and fix it! I am so proud of my organizing – I hope it inspires others!
    tpdval´s last post…Happy 4th Birthday Little Man

  54. Good one. I consider myself organized and a somewhat of a minimalist, but I too love boxes…and notebooks. I love your blog by the way : )

  55. I certainly don’t want to be an enabler…but by next year WalMarts are going to paper only. New federal law, or so I’ve heard from my local friendly checker. How many plastic bags should we keep??

  56. Over the years I have encouraged my clients to select and set up a defined area in home container area (think Container Store) – to store their “useful but empty” household storage containers. Before running out to buy another container they can shop their own store first. This saves money, time and recycles the storage containers.

    • I may not be as organized with it by having a designated area for all storage containers but I do shop my own stash first! And I do have organization but I keep all “like” containers together just in different areas. I can’t tell you how many times I have saved money by reusing something I already have. Also I have done those purges when my stashes get out of hand but as soon as I do, it never fails, I need something I just got rid of!

      I try to reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle – in that order.

      Keep the comments coming. The more I read the more inspired I get to do even more.

      • One of my favorite cartoons about storage containers can be found on Donna Smallin’s site –
        “Sheila takes the use of plastic storage boxes a little too far.”

        We can over contain our stuff and that is not good either.

        • That is hilarious. I’m not that bad but I know people who are and that’s scary. Not quite to the point of “hoarders” though. I know people who go out and buy new stuff because they can’t find what they know they already own…..somewhere.

          I’m really going home tonight and starting once again on decluttering!

  57. It’s so hard to reconcile convenience with simplicity. Having jars or shipping boxes on hand are certainly convenient for me, eliminating an emergency when I have to mail a box home from overseas and don’t have a suitable container. But, all those empty boxes sitting around waiting for the possibility of being used certainly make things more cluttered. I try to keep a strict limit on the amount of containers I keep-I designate a space for each and when it’s full, it’s full. It’s still tempting to wash every jar, though, for the extra soup and marinara sauce that will go in the freezer!
    Tracey´s last post…Going Paperless

  58. You inspired me. I recycled one to two dozen large yogurt containers I was saving for who knows what project (as if the kids wouldn’t gladly eat their way through more yogurt if I need more containers) and the cardboard boxes that were sitting in the garage in case I need them. I feel a bit lighter–thanks for the push!

  59. My mum is a huge box hoarder. She keeps them all “just in case”. Well, we just had the worst flood our town has ever seen (we are in Queensland, Australia) and she lost everything. We had to go in to clean her place out and the amount of wet, empty boxes I threw out was unbelievable!! No wonder she kept saying her place was too small.
    During the clean up, we were moving some things up to high shelves and cupboards and I had to keep telling her, “don’t waste valuable storage space on things you don’t love or need”. In an emergency, the last thing you’ll be thinking of is empty boxes.

  60. My nemesis – plastic containers (they must breed in the cabinet!).

    My suggestion for all shoe box collectors – fill them with items for Operation Christmas Child ( )to give to needy children around the world ALL YEAR long. We try to fill one box a month so that when it is close to Thanksgiving we are ready to take them to the collection site (for us it is Chick-fil-A). We have been doing this for several years now. All of our children look forward to helping pick out what goes in the boxes. It is wonderful to “track” our boxes to find out what country they are being sent to.
    Just an idea!

  61. I have been trying to figure out what to do with hundreds of those plastic snap-to covers that used to hold my VHS tapes.

    Most of my favorite movies have been replaced with DVD’s and I threw out the VHS tapes.

    Any ideas on how to recycle the empty plastic VHS cases? Thanks.

    (Not the cardboard ones that came with the tape. Those got thrown out YEARS ago.)
    don_mae´s last post…My First Quilted Item Is Finished

  62. I definitely have a problem saving way too many boxes. I basically save them for christmas presents, but it seems like they multiply every year. I usually go through them after christmas, but I still have way too many.( I would have to say around 50 or more.) I guess I’m afraid that I might run out of boxes for the presents, so I end up keeping them. I’m inspired now, to go through them and get rid of all but 10. (That’s my goal.)

  63. Love the post – Great reminder!
    After I read “Its All Too Much” by Peter Walsh, it made HUGE changes in the way see things – even if they are ‘things to help you with clutter’.
    Karisa Rivera´s last post…El llamado Supremo de la Mujer

  64. I found a cool way to reuse the plastic zippers bags that your sheets and pillow cases come in. I use them to put my bows,tissue paper,tape,ribbons,gift tags ect. Some of the sheet sets plastic bags have multipule compartments that really makes keeping this together really easy :)

  65. Amen, sista! I’m Val, and we are paring waaaaay back in preparation for our upcoming military move. Thanks for the motivation!

  66. Today my husband and I purged our garage of cardboard boxes. These boxes ranged from large (storage), medium (shipping boxes) and small (shoe boxes). We have been chunking them into the garage each time we needed to them out of the house.

    When we finished loading them into the bed of the truck it was brimming to the top. I was so surprised that there were that many out there.

    Thanks for the encouragement to rid my space of unused cardboard boxes.


  67. Kim Fahrni says:

    Definantly a basket and shoebox junkie here… Lol

  68. oh no! You are so right – I keep cardboard boxes just in case and my husband is always coaxing me to recycle them already. sighhhhh
    alright. I want to be an advanced student :)
    Margo´s last post…Snow Day

  69. Oops – you got me! But I save my stuff for my kids crafts … and mostly it just fills one shelf. Just today my 11-year-old cut up boxes to make a ‘violin’! But if I don’t watch myself and keep a tight reign on my stash, it seems to grow in the dark …
    Nadene´s last post…What kind of disciples does the mission demand

  70. For me it’s padded post-packs that I get in the mail. They’re expensive to buy, so I keep them and recycle them. My Mum keeps plastic takeaway containers and ice cream containers, and I will admit that she does actually use them … a lot!
    Dawn Lewis´s last post…New Cousin provides dilema!

  71. Glass Jars and bigger plastic containers!
    We eat lots of different Chinese sauces, most come in these glass jars. I wash the ones I like, remove all the labels. I move food from plastic jars or bags to glass jars, worrying about the chemical in plastic. The other ‘bad’ looking ones are for dispose of dirty oil (after frying some fish, smells!) I also used some glass jars last Halloween, painted orange, light some tealight candles in them and used as path lights in our front yard, for the kids. For bulkier dry food, I put them in the bigger plastic containers I saved after finish the snacks! Cheaper than buying brand new!
    But well, I have to admit, I do have more than I need! Maybe it’s time to recycle some.
    Love your blog!