How to Organize Your Home With Recycled Materials

by Cath

Organizing your home doesn’t need to be running to your favorite organizing store and buying a bunch of fancy containers. I know, it’s so fun! I get that, we don’t have container stores here in Portugal but I really wanted to visit one for years.

Disposable items can be your containers! Disposable items will always end up in our life. You can refuse and refuse but in today’s world it’s very difficult to survive without them, and that’s okay.

But you can organize your home with FREE stuff and at the same time reduce your eco footprint.

If you’re striving to become zero waste, more than anything else, you should try to repurpose what you already have, what you can’t refuse. Even if you end up buying it, maybe there’s a way to find a second use for it and even if it’s just used twice is better than using it just once.

My mom is one of the most creative persons I know, and most of the organizing containers that she used and still uses now are recycled. She will always turn something into something useful. Some of the tips that I’ll share here I actually learned from her.

Label your containers

Just don’t forget labeling them especially if you’re storing it in closed boxes. I’ve chalkboard contact paper that I bought years ago that I still haven’t used up so I’m using it. Perhaps you’ve something like that lying around as well or just use paint! I’m pretty sure that you’ll find something with no use that you can label your containers with.

How to organize your home FOR FREE

How to organize drawers

dresser with socks, bras and panties
Shoe boxes are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

Most of them are the perfect size to fit in dressers and you can use them to organize them. If not, then feel free to use other types of cardboard boxes and make dividers if you require to.

My dresser has deep drawers so I have a box for: socks and another one for panties and two boxes for bras. I always leave it without any lid because otherwise it’d be too cumbersome. It helps keep them neater.

How to organize craft materials

Shoe boxes are really versatile and you can decorate them and label each one of them for your materials. Or dedicate a box for each of your crafts, I have one that’s exclusively for knitting tools and another one for magazines that I use for scrapbooking.

Glass jars are also useful here as they’re clear and you can see it through. I had my crayons in a nutella jar. You can store ribbons, threads, the sky is the limit!

We’re in the digital age but I still get mail from companies from time to time. If you carefully open the envelope, you can reuse it and use it to organize paper craft supplies. I used them a lot when I was cutting out letters from magazines to use in my scrapbooks.

Fill up a drawer with toilet paper rolls and use each compartment for a specific supply.

Use cookie boxes to store projects. Every one of my cross stitch projects has a cookie box associated with it and all the thread that’s required it’s in there, that way I can quickly fetch it and start working.

How to organize cables

Use empty toilet paper rolls for this and write down what each one belongs to and store.

How to organize memory cards and usb pens

Use a narrow cardboard box, like a toothpaste box and cut one of the longer sides and put it into a drawer. Dump there your usb pens so you no longer have to turn your house upside down to find them.

How to organize your stamp collection

Well, perhaps very passionate stamp collectors will say that this will ruin the stamps in 100 years but I’m a hobby collector and I don’t care about having the perfect tools when all I want is to have some fun.

Like I used recycled envelopes to store scrapbook letters, I also used recycled envelopes to store stamps.

For stamps that I had lots of duplicates, I made small drawers out of matchboxes and it was so much fun and they’re actually organized.

How to organize your home documents and mail

Organize your documents by making folders out of cereal boxes or any kind of cardboard box.

Make a document sorter with a cardboard box to organize your files.

Make a smaller organizer for your hallway and avoid having letters laying around.

How to organize your desk

Make a desk organizer with cereal boxes, pasta boxes, anything that has cardboard really!

How to organize clips, small set of keys, etc.

Egg carton with clips, stud nails and batteries

With a egg carton box, you can neatly store these little things that are useful but rarely have a designated space and just end up being in the junk drawer. I painted mine in blue to make it cuter but you don’t really need to paint.

How to organize makeup

Store your makeup brushes in glass jars or in broken cups (where the handle broke but the rest of the cup is okay – yes that happened to me, I use it to store my bracelets).

Store the rest of your makeup in neatly divided cardboard boxes (divide also with cardboard). You can also use smartphone boxes which are tougher and can be useful to store some items.

How to organize fashion accessories

Belts in shoe box

Organize smaller accessories

Hair ties, clips, bows, all of them can be organized with:

  • Any plastic container – dessert cups, container that had cotton ear buds (my mom has used this for years and still going strong), plastic gum containers, moisturizer containers
  • Small glass jars from jams
  • Egg cartons – instead of searching for that ring, why not have specifically a space for it? Put egg cartons in a drawer and you’re good to go.

Organize bigger accessories

Remove the top of a cardboard box, add dividers by using the top for material and put each accessory in each one of the sections that you’ve created.

I’ve used this for belts, scarves, gloves and it’s great. I’ve one cardboard box that has four sections: one has swimsuits and swimcaps, the other has gloves, the other one has cloth shopping bags and the last one has berets and beanies.

How to organize kitchen tools

Paint a can and use it as a container for your kitchen tools like wooden spoons, whisks, etc.

How to organize your pantry/freezer

Glass jars are the best containers to organize your pantry. You can put flour, rice, any kind of pantry item in them. It’ll also be much harder to have bugs in your pantry because everything is perfectly sealed.

You can paint each one of the tops with food grade safe paint to make them match. I don’t bother but I understand if you prefer something a little bit neater.

If you save up spice jars you can also remove the label and then use it next time you buy in bulk.

You can also use glass jars to store things in your freezer, from foods frozen in ice cubes to homemade vegetable stock, glass jars are pretty handy to have around.

How to organize shopping bags

Make simple baskets out of cardboard boxes and hang them behind your kitchen door. Store paper bags and shopping bags so you can use them whenever you need. Even refusing a lot of bags, I still have a few arriving in my house and they can be handy at times.

How to organize toys

Get a cardboard, remove the top and label it for each kid. Involve them so they personalize their own box, they’ll love it and maybe you’ll be lucky enough that they remember to store it in the box that they helped make.

An additional note, not related to organizing itself but just a reminder that so many things have uses and you don’t need to buy so many toys: one of my favorite toys as a kid was made of a cardboard box that I made myself, it was a cash register that had small drawers too. I played a lot with it and personalize it according to my tastes.

How to organize your garage

nivea container with assorted nails

Cardboard and shoe boxes to organize a bit of everything.

Glass jars to organize nails and small items so you can quickly find them. My parents garage is full of them, is actually pretty. You can also use cans for this, you’ll just need to label them.

If you store everything in drawers, a good solution for you would be to use smaller yogurt containers and put all of them in a drawer and there you go: you’ve got a drawer full of small containers perfect to store every kind of nail. You can even take it a step further and glue all of them together to make a solid structure between the yogurt containers.

Plastic tubs, from yogurts and stuff, are also used to organize smaller items that aren’t used as often.

I don’t own a garage myself, but I store my nails and other small stuff in a body cream moisturizer, one of those blue Nivea ones (pictured above), I don’t need more and everything’s where it belongs.

All of these, organized with recycled materials!

Can you imagine the amount of stuff that you throw out every day, that you can organize your house with? Everything is a possibility and you just need to be open to it and accept that you don’t need to buy fancy containers to have your house organized. Have fun organizing your home on a budget while making diy projects.

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