Photo by organizer Deb Zechini, used with her permission.
As much as stores selling plastic bins might want us to believe it, clutter doesn’t stop when we buy the bins. Actually, the bins might become clutter themselves! Clutter gets stopped when we rid our homes and offices of the things that no longer serve us, and stop bringing more of this stuff into our spaces.
There’s certainly a place for the plastic bins and other containers, but until we’ve decided what we really want to keep, we don’t know what kind of storage we need: how many containers, what size, what style. Buying the perfect new containers can be a delight, but it’s best done after the de-cluttering. And sometimes we find we already have things we can re-use to provide the storage we need.
In his book Not for Packrats Only, Don Aslett writes about “junk bunkers” — the term he uses for “anything that creates space for more unnecessary stuff.” Here are some of his examples:
China closet: A piece of furniture that keeps dust off the stuff you never feed anyone out of.Now, of course, we sometimes have good reasons for having china cabinets, plastic crates and industrial shelving — but Don ’s point that we often find great ways to store not-so-great stuff rings true.
Plastic crate: A petrochemical cage for questionable stuff.
Industrial shelving: A high-tech way to keep our boxes of useless stuff from being crushed by more of the same.
The temptation to buy more containers can be huge — especially when we’re in a store or on a website with really cool stuff, or when the containers are on sale. But none of us wants to wind up like David Lebovitz, who tweeted:
I don’t know why I bought 4 huge plastic containers today. Now I have to find something to fill them up with.
Organization is More than Storage