The Clutter of Containers

The Clutter of Containers - And why we love them

I see you there across the aisle. My heart races. My pulse quickens. I want you. You’re empty and I want to fill you with only good things, because you deserve only good things. I’ve felt this way before with versions of you in various shapes and sizes, and colors … so many colors. I want to take you home with me, but I try to resist. I promised myself to stop coming home with more containers, so I’m going to say goodbye now and walk away.

Walking away from pretty containers can be hard, right? The truth is when containers aren’t being utilized properly, they are just part of the clutter. I see so many people buy containers and baskets “to get organized”, but … then they end up having piles of containers and baskets and still have a whole bunch of clutter.

A very interesting thing happens during the declutter process – when you really do it right, you’ll end up getting rid of containers.

Truthfully, containers are one of my very favorite things. Bags, baskets, bins … I love them all. If I was ever tempted to hoard anything, it would be containers. I’ve had to develop a way to think about it to control myself.

The thing that helps me most is to not buy a container, no matter how pretty, is to only buy one if I had a plan to buy it BEFORE I went to the store. So, if I’m at the store and a container gives me an idea to organize something, I don’t buy it right then. I go home and step through the Organizing Process in that area and then come back to get it if it is still what I want. Most of the time, I don’t come back to get it even though I was originally “so inspired” in the store. Often while I think about it, I think of different or better ideas, or I’ll get home and remember that the current setup works well and there is no need to change it so I might as well save some money. Forcing myself to wait has saved me from a lot of impulse buys I would have regretted.

Another thing is to stick with the Steps of the Organizing Process. It is important to remember that there is an order to organizing, and containers are NOT FIRST. If you get the containers before you declutter or sort like items (group items that will go together in containers) or decide where they’ll go, chances are you could select a container that won’t actually work for your needs.. {See the Organizing Process Here — Finding the right container is Step 4}.

Professional Organizer Tip – When it is time to shop for your container, remember to measure the space it will go and bring a measuring tape to the store to measure bins and containers while you shop. Know before you go home that the container will fit perfectly!

Containers can be such a beautiful and functional addition to your organizing, but don’t let them become part of your clutter!

Happy decluttering,


Subscribe to the blog emails, Like Mary ORGANIZES on Facebook, and Join the Facebook Group.

16 thoughts on “The Clutter of Containers

  1. This makes so much sense!! I have been writing down everything I need as I might come across it in the declutter process and otherwise. I found a cool app for shopping lists for each store. This is aiding me in shopping ONLY for things I need. Normally I am sucked into more ‘cool’ purchases walking around without a list and trying to remember what it is I needed.

    1. That sounds great! I’ve been a sucker for many cool purchases in my life time (I write from real experience, lol), and it never feels good in the end. Whether it is never really being able to find the right spot for the random thing or finally decluttering it and getting pennies on the dollar for what I originally paid. It has been many years now since I’ve been mostly reformed, though I still have slip-ups (especially when I am feeling emotional about something), and so I still allow myself some grace and keep decluttering. :)

  2. The timing is so funny. I decided to give away Tupperware containers. I used to sell it and had quite a collection. I can’t believe that I really didn’t need all of them. One of your previous posts on giving away the good stuff was really helpful. Thank you for your inspiring words and encouragement.

    1. And all their colors, oh the colors. :) Window shopping is an art-form I’m learning that lets me really enjoy all the pretty things and not bring them home.

  3. Totally agree what you say here!! It’s like my mom would wish for having another bedroom in the house, where the reality is cleaning out the room you have to make it more livable! ha Instead of buying all of those pretty containers (and they are striking), I make use of shoe boxes which is recycling at its best and does the job just fine. In some cases who sees inside your closets anyway but you and the family? I challenge you to not look for ways of spending money yet still being creative in the process!

    1. I adore your frugality – seriously, but I have another thought about the inside of closets. I think even if we were the only people to ever see a space, we deserve to see something clean and beautiful (if beauty is something that is important to us – it really isn’t to some people like my husband, so there are differences). Also, when I get to the stage of getting the right containers, I like for them to be super functional, stack or separate easily, fit the space just right, hold the items just right, etc. There are tons of ways of re-purposing boxes and containers we already have, and I’ve even seen people make diaper boxes look beautiful with fabric covers, but I think we need to treat ourselves well within our budgets and let ourselves enjoy beauty for beauty’s sake, even in a closet. :) I think if most of us were really only buying the things we needed, we’d have more room in our budgets to have a little fun with colorful containers … once in a while!!! I really do love the point you’re making, though, that we don’t have to spend money to organize. Definitely, definitely, not!

  4. I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now and you have inspired me! As a birthday gift to my husband, I decluttered our bathroom and we are both so happy! I now want to go take a bath just so I can spend time in my new, clutter-free master bath. :-) This article makes so much sense. I am now moving to the linen closet and can see that containers would help. I’ll be sure to measure and think about what kind of container would work. Thanks so much for the great advice!

    1. You’ll be so glad you measured first when you come home and those containers fit well right away. It is so crazy how you think you know what will fit a space and then you go to the store and you “think” that something will fit, and the drawer insert is too tall for the drawer or something like that. Great job!!

  5. Moi aussi! I LOVE containers and have collectible baskets everywhere, filled with STUFF. A friend is helping me organize and suggested more containers, but I had a feeling that enough is enough… or maybe too much. Thanks for a great blog… I’ll wear earplugs in the stores from now on so I won’t hear those containers calling my name.

Leave a comment! I love to hear what you think!