Organize your home by using things you would toss in the trash (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose)


10 simple   frugal ideas to clean and organize your home

This post is part of a series – “5 weeks to an Organized Home.”  You can see all the posts in this series by clicking here.  And to make sure you don’t miss any posts you can sign up to have every post sent to your email or follow me on facebook.

Today let’s talk about storage containers…

Organize your home by recycling + using things you toss in the trash

So when I talked about doing this organizing series on facebook, several of you mentioned that you wanted cheap or frugal ways to organize – not buying some elaborate system at the container store or something like that.  And I totally get that!

So how about if you could organize many areas in your home for FREE by using things you would normally toss in the trash, essentially recycling at the same time?  I do it ALL the time.  Smile And I am sure that some of you have other ways that you do too – I would love to hear things you use in the comments.

So let’s start with shoeboxes.  Everyone has shoe boxes because at some time or another we all have to buy shoes.  Unless you store your shoes in their boxes… if so, maybe ask a friend with kids to save shoe boxes for you.  Shoe boxes are great – they are sturdy, thick and even have lids if you want to use those.  And you can totally recover them with wrapping paper or fabric if you want to make them cute.  I use them inside drawers and closets so no one sees them except me so I don’t bother.

Here’s some way I organize with shoeboxes.

Socks – sorting them by colors or types

organize socks in shoeboxes

More socks – filed

use shoeboxes to organize

Household stuff like batteries, Command products, small cords, and more.

organize household items in shoeboxes

I also use cheese boxes (the kind that Velveeta cheese comes in) for smaller storage boxes like kitchen drawers.

I have 3 in my “junk drawer” in my kitchen to sort and hold different items.

use cheese boxes to organize small things

And another one in my large utensils/kitchen tools drawer to keep measuring spoons easily found and accessible.

use cheese boxes to organize small things

You can use baby wipe containers the same type way – to sort clothes, socks, or small things.

use baby wipe boxes to organize kids clothes and socks

Toilet paper rolls – I use them to organize extension cords.  Keeps them rolled up tight and so easy to store in a shoebox in a drawer or closet. Winking smile

use toilet paper roll to store extension cords

I think my sister-in-law who blogs at Rockin’ What Ya Got clued me into this tip.  Use those bags that curtains, pillows, shower curtains, pillow cases, table linens, etc. come in (the kind with the zipper at the top) to store kids games, puzzles, or really anything!  They are thicker and hold up better than ziploc bags plus a lot of the times they are bigger than a normal gallon ziploc bag.

use zippered bags from curtains to organize kids games and puzzles

Then this bin… Our refrigerator bit the dust the other day and we had to get a new one.  But this bin from the freezer is in perfect condition!  I will either use it in our big freezer outside to store smaller items or maybe even in the pantry for potatoes or something.  No sense in just tossing it!

use old freezer bins to organize pantry or stand up freezer

So while you are busy purging and cleaning, take a second look at the things you are throwing away.  Could you use them for a different purpose, to help you organize something?

Organize your home by recycling + using things you toss in the trash

I would love to hear from YOU!  What are some ways you use things that would normally get trashed to accomplish a different purpose?


  1. Thanks for the great tips today! I use shoeboxes for storage, as well as other small boxes in drawers. I also save and use jars of various sizes to store small items. I recently saved the lidded Crystal Light containers and use them for craft storage. I realized from your post that I probably could save and reuse a lot more!! I’m loving this series already and looking forward to more good ideas!

  2. Great tips! Thank so much 🙂


  3. Some great ideas. never thought of storing socks in shoe boxes. I like it. Some other things I tend to use… cans for pencils and other ‘small’ items; various sized boxes or ‘tupperware’ type containers whose lids have ‘bit the dust’ to store various sized kitchen items in drawers. Similar to your idea for measuring spoons; I also use cleaned out jars to store craft supplies as another comment mentioned. It’s great since you can ‘dress up’ the recycled items and they are just as cute as if you went to the store and paid a lot of money for them. Thanks for sharing.
    Liz recently posted..I ‘blew it’ againMy Profile

  4. I love this post. I save everything but, I do not save toilet paper rolls and what a great idea to use them. Those extension cords are a constant pain for me – always coming unfolded…. I use all types of boxes – covering them and wrapping them with twine to store craft items, pantry solutions, and toy solutions. I also paint and embellish tin cans for pens, pencils, paint brushes, combs, what ever we need to see. I love jars decorated to put craft bits and game pieces in. I am a definite believer in reuse, repurpose and recycle.. thanks for the ideas… Cathy
    Cathy recently posted..New Years GoalsMy Profile

  5. This was a great post! I have done several of these, and even painted shoe boxes to use them as decorative storage boxes. The velvet a cheese box was a new one for me, and I will use it. So, what was the verdict on the new fridge? I have been wondering….

  6. Great post!!
    Leah recently posted..Our Baby Boy!My Profile

  7. Love your blog – just happened upon this article. My 91 year old mother must the Queen of using this kind of stuff to organize. She taught all of us to do this and more!

    After WWII ended, there was a housing shortage caused by all the 18 yr olds who had enlisted returning and getting married. For the first few years after getting married and starting a family, my parents rented a 16′ trailer on a farmer’s homestead. I don’t even want to imagine: two adults & 3 children under the age of 5 in that size trailer! My mother said she was forced to organize well and take advantage of everything she had. Luckily, she passed that on to all of us.

    Another tip: if you have a wood-burning fireplace, you can use your toilet paper and paper towel tubes as ‘starters’. Just spread a dab of petroleum jelly (it is highly flammable and does not take much!) on the inside of the tubes, and stuff the tubes with cotton or old paper towels. When you want to start a fire, place this on the bottom and your logs on top. Light the edge of the paper roll, as as it burns it lights the rest of the logs.

    Many blessings,
    AffirmingSpirit recently posted..To Resolve or Not to ResolveMy Profile

  8. I also use empty coffee creamer bottles to store small pasta and rice. After removing the labels,I simply paint with a coat of chalk board paint and label them with the items. Plus there’s a bonus pour spout on them!

  9. Crystal Light containers are great for SO much. I use them for pens, markers, box tops, paper clips, really any office supply. My mom & I are both diabetics and they are also good for storing lancets & needles. I keep all my glass jars. I use them for leftover sauce, decorating, & dry food storage. Large coffee containers are great for dry goods as well. I have stocked up on boxes & I plan to wrap them so they look nicer and use them for office organizing, and drawers.

  10. Very smart ideas! My sister is recently tying to reuse and re-purpose more and these ideas will be of a great help for her, plus she’s making changes at her home’s organization. Definitely recommending your post to her. Greets!

  11. Kathryn Stewart says:

    Coffee creamer jars are great for bagged loose spices. I also use them to mix and keep cinnamon sugar in. The larger parmesan cheese jars are also good for this–their lids are already made for shaking from one side and spooning out of the other. I love Yuban coffee, and the containers in two different sizes make great sets for all kinds of dry goods. You can use plastic spray paint or chalkboard paint plus labels or chalk to decorate them. Thrift stores have lots of different baskets for storage. Picnic baskets on top of cabinets hide seldom used items, and the long low rectangular baskets are great for storing small things in cupboards–just slide out the basket to see the entire contents at once, and nothing gets lost in the back.


  1. […] Organize your home by using things you would toss in the trash (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose) says: January 8, 2014 at 11:09 PM […]

  2. […] I picked up at Walmart ($3 for a pack of 2 of the larger white bins with grey handles), and then reused an old drawer from our broken refrigerator to hold potatoes on the floor.   (More ideas on using things you already have at home and […]

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