Decluttering: Thinking Outside The Cardboard Box

I am the product of two pack rats. (I love you, Mom and Dad.) Almost everything could find a new purpose so it was kept “Just in Case” or “For Sentimental Reasons”. As a result, I have had a lifelong struggle with my ‘need to keep everything addiction’. Oh, you have that one, too?

My dad loved to keep and reuse chocolate boxes. They were the perfect size for storing papers,  for gift boxes, storing pens and pencils, what have you. When we were helping him downsize so that he could move. we came upon lots of them in a closet – most were empty but my sister-in-law was tasked with having to go through each one individually. While he did use a lot of them, he didn’t think to label them so, when he needed something, he had to go through 10 to get to the one he wanted! lol

I was hoping that there might be a program  – perhaps one that involved steps – to help me deal with this tragic addiction. And then along came Kitchenette Kathleen.


Kitchenettes Kathleen Hatley (l) and Lorene Stuart (r) with Everyday Happiness host, Vicki McLeod.

I am so happy that Kathleen Hatley stopped by the Everyday Happiness Pajama Podcast with Vicki this week. Kathleen is known as My Clutter Coach and offers up great tips on getting and staying organized.

I decided (in earnest) that this IS the year that my house will no longer be bursting at the seams from too much stuff! But as I go through box after box, and drawer upon drawer, I discover some things that,  initially would go to the “give away” or “sell” piles but, upon further examination, have proven helpful for making my ‘stuff’ that stays, more accessible.

Here are a few things that I have re-purposed to keep them out of someone else’s ‘junk’ – or worse – the land fill!


  • Shower curtain hooks are great for attaching to the clothes rack in the closet – I hang my handbags, shopping bags, and book bags on them.
  • Multiple pants hanger – I don’t care to have that crease half way down my pants so I use the full length pants hangers but this beauty is terrific for the ribbons for present wrapping.
  • Media storage boxes – are you old enough to remember floppy discs and the boxes we had to store them in? This one now holds my bags of sunflower, pumpkin, and soy seeds – I make my own trail mix. Keeps the pantry looking tidier.
  • Glass instant coffee jars – they are sooo great for using in the freezer (I am trying to move away from plastic) I make a lot of soup stock and it is great to have a jar or two in the freezer. I like the squarish ones for soup. They stack well in the deep freeze and don’t take up much room. They are also perfect for holding dried beans, nuts, dry pasta, what ever you might get in a non resealable container.
  • Glass spice jars – oh I love these ones. I can buy my dry spices from the bulk section now – just enough to fit into one of these jars – instead of getting those tins or the annoying bags that end up dumping spices into the bottom of your cupboard. When they are empty, into the dishwasher they go, ready for the next time.
  • Shoe bags – I have devoted one to cleaning products. It hangs in our broom closet and holds all my home made cleaner spray bottles and the necessary clean lint free rags.
  • Coffee tins – I love my coffee! I will say that many of my coffee tins do get broken down and put into the metal recycling. However, I have a  few that hold popcorn, instant oats, quinoa, and sugar.Whatever comes in a bag or non-resealable box, I try to put into a storage container and label using masking tape and a Sharpie.

The other thing I love about coffee tins (or the plastic ones) is that they are the perfect size for baked goods giveaways. A LOT of my Christmas presents involve baking because I know most people are too busy to bake themselves. No need to go out and buy a separate container – just decorate a coffee can! Then the recipient can choose to recycle or reuse it. No one feels obligated to return it (like the ‘store bought’ tins). Win win WIN!

storage ideas

Every day, I find a new ‘gem’. In my parent’s collection, I discovered a bag filled with a rainbow of neatly folded (but previously used) tissue paper that you use for gift giving. I contacted one of the local thrift stores to see if they could use it. They were very happy to take the bag. They use the tissue to wrap up the glassware and dishes they sell. So, I guess one person’s trash IS another person’s treasure. I think my folks would be happy and I’m on my way to a clutter-free recovery.

Do you have any ideas for a clutter free life? We’d  love to hear from you.

PS: We’re teaming up with Kathleen to offer a workshop on Feb. 21, 2015 in Maple Ridge BC. Here’s the link to find out more. I have a feeling I am not the only one who could use a few pointers on how to live clutter free 😉

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