Organizing Challenge: The Tupperware/Plastic Storage Stash! (and what I did for my Electronics Cleanout)

How did you do on the Electronics and Technology clean out yesterday?  I thought I’d share with you mine….  Even if it is a little embarrassing!  It just goes to show that just because things are neat and orderly doesn’t mean you’re organized! If I had been in better shape, I wouldn’t have had so much needless equipment around all this time, taking up spaces and getting in my way when I’m trying to get to what I really need.


tech recycling


Today, we’re onto a new challenge that will probably make some of you anxious, but is STILL a great use of time. And, yes, you can really do this one in a focused Twenty-Minute Attack!


We’re going to tackle all the plastic ware/ tupperware / gladware, take out containers and everything else you have shoved away for leftover emergencies!

plastic storage containers

I’ve got a few principles on this topic:

1) Most people have more than they need of at least one size.

2) Most people are either missing lids or mysteriously rich with bottom-less lids.

3) Lots of us have a “tupperware party” mentality for a commodity item.  What does this mean?

When I was growing up in the 70’s my mom would get invited to Tupperware parties, and it was a big deal, because the concept of this kind of plasticware with lids hadn’t been something my mom grew up with.  She had her favorites styles and sizes, the colors we all recognize, and some of those specialty items (I still swear by the Tupperware marinater!). For a lot of people struggling with money, a way to deal with leftovers and stretch the most out of your food budget was absolutely worth the investment.  But somewhere along my adult life, the concept of being able to buy inexpensive-but-reusable plasticware at the grocery store arrived, and Tupperware parties (and the company itself) was never the same again.   And yet, we still hold onto plastic ware whenever we get them as if the chance that we won’t be able to buy something inexpensively, as soon as we need it, isn’t there.

4) Just because you CAN use them, doesn’t mean you will.

Then there are the people who save all the take out containers and reusable packaging that other groceries come in when we buy them. You know who you are, the “but this is a perfectly good container; I’m sure I can use it” people out there are swimming in more plasticware than they can really use, even if they still have the bottoms and lids that match.

So, here’s what I want you to do:

1) Take all of your plastic ware out of the cabinets or drawers or closet or wherever you keep them.  Put them all out on a table so you can see what you have.

2) Separate out shapes (squares, rectangles and circular) into different piles with their own kind. (Yes, we’re segregating here. I know.)  Separate out the lids in the same way.  Do yourself a favor:  As you seen any that are obviously cracked, bent, melted (yes, really) or stained, let’s just agree that they’re probably not going to be keepers, okay? Pull them aside before sorting them with the better-condition items.

3) Match each bottom with a lid.  I *know* some brands like Rubbermaid have lids that work with multiple sizes.  I’ll spot you that and we can move on to the rest of the pairing. But, ideally, each bottom has one lid.

4) For bottoms without lids, or lids without bottoms, PUT THEM ASIDE.  (Spoiler alert: They might be visiting the recycling bin or the donation pile very soon, so make sure your goodbye is a meaningful one.)

5) What’s left?  Well, now, we go through and analyze what we have left.  Think about how you use the different containers and how often you really have that need.  “This is great if I make a gallon of soup.” Okay, that’s absolutely true. When’s the last time you used that container? I’ll be generous here; if you can’t remember using that size regularly in the past year, you probably don’t need it any more. You’re either not doing that thing you think it’s great for, or you’ve found another solution for it.   As for how many do you really need… imagine what a FULL CAPACITY fridge would be.  Let’s imagine it’s after Thanksgiving dinner. You’ve got leftover turkey, and 4 or 5 sides, and a few ingredients that you used part, but not all, of, and you’ve packaged up a few meals for your guests to take home.  That’s, what? 12 containers total? Maybe?  And, most people are probably in good shape to do all of that same work 2 or more times over, and still have plenty of one size or another.  Go through and really scrutinize the sizes you have, vs the sizes you need.  The super small baby food sized ones are a great example.  Unless you’re actively making baby food these days, you’re  probably not using more than one or two of these occasionally, for things like condiments. So, you probably don’t need 6 of them, right?   I know this one is tough, but we’re only making more work for ourselves to get to what we really need when we’re loading up the cabinets with the extra stuff that gets in our way. 

6)  Hopefully, you’ve pared down the supply.  Now you can either nest like shapes in like shapes, with lids in their own area, or pair each lid and bottom together and stack.  In any event, all that should be going back in the cabinet are:

  • Bottoms with Lids, or Lids with Bottoms

  • Items that are in good shape

  • The right amount of each size that you realistically need and will use

All the rest?  Lots of it will be recyclable.  If an item is not recyclable in your area, consider donating branded items (not takeout containers) to a shelter or other organization that takes useful items for household goods.

7)  Place back in your cabinets, and sit back and marvel at the order you’ve created in your life… well, in one or two cubic feet of your life!





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