Published on January 5th, 2012 | by Vivian Nelson Melle

Organize with Recycled Containers

Maybe you’re creating some green vows for 2012 and wondering how to declutter your life while remaining true to green living. It’s all about bringing simplicity in harmony with environmental-sound living and it’s actually pretty easy with a few ideas to jump start your year. Once you begin re-evaluating items destined for the garbage bin as potential storage items or organizational tools, a whole world of possibility opens.

Here are just a few ideas for organizing with recycled goods.

egg carton garden

egg carton garden

Egg Cartons

Egg cartons, both cardboard and styrofoam, make great organizers for jewelry allowing pairing of necklace and earrings within each section. They hold buttons well maintaining division by color, size or shape. The carton above will hold seedlings which can be translated directly into the pot or ground since the cardboard variety will break down by the time transplanting comes.

{cc photo courtesy of lovelihood on  Flickr}

manicotti tray

Organizing with a manicotti tray

Plastic Trays

An old plastic container tray, like the one used for dried manicotti above, can quickly become storage for craft items, extra condiments, hardware items, and jewelry. Plastic trays that hold produce, crackers or cookies are all potential storage vessels which offer easy-to-see organizing. They are also great for young ones who need simple clean-up solutions with their smaller toys and art supplies.

{cc photo courtesy of Sakurako Kitsa on Flickr}

mason jars

Mason jar organizing

Mason Jars

Mason jars are one of the best organizers around. Use the jars of used jam, jelly and sauces for storing craft items, jewelry or pantry items. Rice, pasta and other kitchen staples keep well with the tight sealing lids and flour is sure to remain without weevils. If you can’t get rid of the spaghetti sauce’s heavy garlic smell just place a wadded-up piece of newspaper and seal it in overnight.

{cc photo courtesy of SewPixie on Flickr}

tin box survival kit

Tin box survival kit

Tin Mint Containers

Tin mint containers has countless re-uses and one is a survival kit kept in a purse, backpack or glove compartment. You can also make first aid kits, art kits, makeup boxes and even sewing kits. Purchase the small jewelers sealable baggies and you can have a spice rack on the go. Keep your favorite spices in the baggies along with a mini bottle of Tabasco sauce.

{cc photo courtesy of  jessy731 on Flickr}

pizza box drawer organizer

Pizza box drawer organizer

Cardboard Boxes

It doesn’t have to be a pizza box, but a similar sturdy take out container can be broken down into sections for taking control of the junk drawer. Jyoseph talks about pizza boxes being made into drawer organizers with a ruler, a razor and some tape. You can also find other boxes of varying sizes and fit them together in a drawer until a snug fit is reached or tape boxes together to form your own complete drawer organizing.

{cc photo courtesy of jyoseph on Flickr}

Do you rescue items from the garbage for organizing? What’s your favorite recycled organizer?


About the Author

Vivian Nelson Melle is a writer and life coach helping individuals, families, and businesses thrive. She supports small businesses especially in the areas of Green Living, Health, and Wellness. She can be found at and

4 Responses to Organize with Recycled Containers

  1. Cristi B. says:

    Vivian – Great eco-friendly ideas for organization! There’s really not a lot that can’t be re-used in some ways around the house. I’ve also found those take out cartons (all those plates and bowls with lids) are perfect for re-using instead of going out and buying more and more tupper ware, or plastic containers and sandwich bags. And with the right touch of decorative water based paint and maybe a ribbon, they’re perfect for gift giving too! I know just about everything I use in my artists studio to organize my supplies, is some type of take out container or something I decided to re-use instead of putting it right back into the Recycle cycle. We can all think twice about using things for multiple purposes before going out and buying more and more of traditional organization products.

  2. Lakmal says:

    Vivian, Actually this is a very good information. All of us need to follow 3R (Reduce, Re-use, Re-cycle) concept every time we can. Check out this Green lunch packaging system if you like.

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