I am not a minimalist. According to Apartment Therapy, I lean strongly toward "Eclectic Collector," with a healthy dose of "Happy Modern". This means I like stuff. Bright stuff, layers of stuff, stuff from my own travels and the travels of friends. But I live in a relatively small home, and my love of stuff means I'm in a constant battle against too much stuff. I read an article last week about the secrets of tidy people. And the #1 lesson, not surprisingly, was that tidy people have less stuff -- A LOT less stuff. It inspired me to tackle some of the problem areas in my own home -- areas where the preponderance of stuff interferes with my ability to create a functional home (and, by extension, a functional life!).
The first place I tackled? The Tupperware cupboard. This may seem like a silly place to start. But for a home with two adults and more than 40 Tupperware containers crammed into a single kitchen shelf, things had gotten out of hand. The mere act of putting away leftovers after supper inspired panic and woe. Open the cupboard door, and you were liable to get hit in the head with an errant plastic lid. The jumbled stacks of containers meant having to pull down half the contents of the cupboard to find the size you were looking for. And, despite the overflowing bowl of lids, the right lid was always MIA. Always. We'd devolved into skimming off the front of shelf, using only the first two or three containers regardless of size, ignoring the mountain that lurked at the back of the cupboard.
My organizing endorphins kicked in and I forgot to take a proper "before" picture, but imagine what the cupboard looked like this morning: A giant mixing bowl filled haphazardly with lids of varying sizes, the smaller ones settled to the bottom; 30+ glass and plastic containers of every size, shoved into the cupboard so tightly that it might take a pair of BBQ tongs to extract them. (I checked, and we had 10 more containers in use in the fridge, plus three more in the dishwasher.)
I looked around the Internet for tips on how best to store this stuff, and I found a dozen or more suggestions. But I settled on this one, from A Slob Comes Clean: Pair them down, keep only enough so that the majority are in use at any given time, and store them with the lids ON. This may not be the most efficient use of space, but it prevents you from pack-ratting more containers than you need.
I matched the existing lids and bottoms, and this is what I ended up with:
Note the many orphaned lids -- which means we were basically storing (and struggling against) completely useless stuff (I wonder how true that might be elsewhere, should I look closely):
I checked, and the City of Madison recycles not only glass containers, but the metal lids, too. Yay! So away they went, into the recycling bin. (I would love to phase out the plastic altogether and use glass containers and jars, but that's for another day.)
And then I culled. Ruthlessly. If it was stained, if hadn't been used in recent memory (mostly the odd sizes, like the super-tiny containers, or the extra-large containers -- how many of those does a person really need?!), or if I had the same size in a multiple greater than two, it got tossed into the give-away box. At first, I could feel my, "But what if I need this for..." urge kick in, but I squashed it. I sent it to the corner, with a sandwich and a time-out. (On a side note, fellow pack-ratters, that really is possible. Try it! It might feel foreign at first, but then it feels good.)
And now, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to my new and improved Tupperware cupboard (be sure you're sitting down):
Sometimes it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the projects that come along with creating a home. But you can tackle a cupboard. Or a closet. Or all the stuff shoved under your bed. Give yourself one afternoon (or even one hour) in one distinct space, and inspire yourself with what you're able to do.