If your kitchen's recycling bins are bursting at the seams with glass and paper, take another look before you take your bins to the curb. You can upcycle many of the jars, boxes and cartons you toss out each week into great kitchen organizers.
One Glass Jar, Hundreds of PossibilitiesBefore you throw that glass mayonnaise jar, baby food jar, or coffee jar into the recycling bin, give it a second chance. Glass jars a great for storing everything from homemade sauces and salad dressings to seeds, nuts and other small foods. Use large jars, such as coffee jars or mayonnaise jars, to store baking soda, baking powder, salt or other staples. Small jars, like condiment jars or baby food jars, are good for saving seeds, taking a little mayo or mustard to work for lunch, or even storing twist-ties for later use. Keep track of your jars' contents by writing on the jar with a permanent marker. When you're ready to reuse the jar, simply wash the marker off with rubbing alcohol or a eraser sponge, and you're ready to write on it again.
The Incredible, Versatile Egg CartonOnce a staple of kids' crafts, the egg carton can also be a staple of an organized kitchen. Cut off the lid to the carton and use to wrangle small items like packets of dressings or seasonings, yogurt cups or juice boxes in your fridge, or spice bottles in a pantry. Use the bottom of the carton to keep tiny items like paper clips and push pins from ending up at the bottom of the junk drawer -- simply cut out as many of the little compartments as you need. To keep from cross-contaminating, wash styrofoam egg cartons in hot soapy water before reusing them; for paper cartons, spray them with a disinfectant spray and let them dry thoroughly before use. Or, make paper cartons safe and snazzy by giving them a coat of spray paint.
Box-a-paloozaPaper boxes of all sizes seem to proliferate in kitchens. Instead of breaking them down for easy recycling, dress them up to make great organizational tools. Large paper boxes, especially those heavy ones that are a mainstay of warehouse clubs, a perfect for organizing the pantry. Smaller boxes, such as milk or juice cartons, pasta boxes, cereal boxes, even foil and wrap boxes, can turn an out-of-control junk drawer or kitchen tool drawer into a well-organized space in no time. Simply cut your small boxes down to size, taping up the open end, when necessary. Cover your boxes, large or small, with contact paper, or glue on heavy paper, then seal with a spray poly finish.
Bag It Up
Paper and plastic grocery bags are going the way of the dinosaur, but the reusable grocery bags we've replaced them with are often too flimsy for all our shopping needs, or we quickly accumulate more than we need for a shopping trip. These reusable bags are perfect for storing onions and potatoes in a pantry -- breathable, easier to manage than mesh bags, and often equipped with a flat bottom that makes them easier to store on the floor. Use a reusable bag to keep specialty cake pans, silicone molds and other items you don't often use together in a pantry. Hang an attractive reusable bag near the kitchen door to catch mail and other papers.
More Great Organizing Articles: