If you are storing long-term, do not use cardboard boxes. Anything can happen to them, be it roof leakage or bugs or mice. I use polystyrene boxes. I get them from the greengrocers, they've been used to transport broccoli. A quick swish out with warm water and dry off with a towel.
Place articles inside. Use cloth tape to seal. Clearly mark what is inside on all sides and top.
Clear plastic shoe boxes are excellent, I have found, for storage. I have ones I bought on sale at my local supermarket very cheaply. I use them for storing many different things but put like with like. For example: household glues and picture hanging nails. Small screwdrivers and other tools. Earphones and cords (amazing how many of those one collects in a short time and then can't find!). Greeting cards.
Plastic boxes of any kind are HORRIBLE to use in wet climates for long term storage as everything inside will mold faster than you can blink.
It's also insane how much people spend on "storage systems" and "closet organizers". Then fill up the landfills with perfectly good alternatives they could have recycled.
I recycle clear plastic boxes from the salads I buy for shoe box type storage. They are perfectly clear and thus require no labels.
We recycle smaller containers and some egg cartons for personalized drawer organizers.
I also make use of all the storage spaces I have. In closets, we use small hooks and nails to hang everything from belts to backpacks neatly off the floor. It's in full view so we use those items much more often than if we packed them away somewhere. If it starts to look cluttered; we know we have to get rid of some things.
The same goes for our bathroom cabinets. A few finishing nails hold most of our hair items neatly and in full view. The plastic q-tip box gets hung high on the inside cabinet under the sink. It's within easy reach without even looking and still out of the way.
In the kitchen cabinets, a few small nails and an extra small recycled plastic box hold spice packets and small items like that neatly and out of the way but still in full view. Get creative and personalize your home to fit your needs.
The more that's in full view; the less time you waste labelling and boxing/reboxing items you don't really use anyway. Spring cleaning becomes a pretty quick affair once you've gotten into a smart, open and clutter free way of organizing your home.
If we don't use it; we sell or donate it. I refuse to waste my time sorting, stacking and buying new and bigger packaging for junk.
We do use cardboard boxes for very limited storage but are smart about it. They're used in places where we don't have pipes running and are kept off the ground so leaks and drips aren;t an issue.
We go through everything at least once a year and if we don't use it; it goes. We replace boxes and recycle the discarded boxes into our compost.
Coffee cans/plastic cans are excellent for all kinds of storage and freezing items too. They even have built-in handles!
We buy mostly organic foods in the bulk section. I store them in reused containers from the same items instead of buying new plastic containers and throwing out perfectly good and pre-labelled containers. For ex, I refill a nice oatmeal container with fresh from the bulk section. That way I recycle, save money and don't waste time relabelling generic storage containers. If I don;t have a container to reuse; I use a coffee can.
Only keep one or two extra of something and donate or sell the rest. Don't buy more plastic boxes to hold more junk you don't really use or need.
A few dollars here and there adds up to hundreds of dollars in storage containers so you can lug around tons of junk you never really use anyway.
I absolutely agree with Reality Check on buying more containers to store more stuff. Ask yourself, is this really worth spending this amount of money to store?
Same goes for moving stuff. If you are moving, figure out what it will cost to move something (including packing materials) and ask yourself, would it be more cost-effective to just replace it when we get there? Or maybe this would be a good time to pass something on, especially if it's heavy or bulky or fragile.
As for plastic storage bins, it depends on where you live. Seven years ago we moved to a very small Victorian house in central Kansas. Since there's virtually no storage space downstairs, I bought plastic storage bins to organize out-of-season clothes in the attic, and I have never had a problem with mold. But in some states I've lived in, that would be a real problem and if you're using opaque bins, you wouldn't have a clue until you opened them up again.
On the other hand, we do have a big problem with bugs and mice here. I've learned not to store food in cardboard or in plastic bags, but only in airtight metal or sturdy plastic containers. If you have the same problem, check plastic storage bins before you buy some of them have hidden ventilation holes on the underside of the handles, where bugs can get in.
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