Upcycle Organizing: Using Would-Be Trash to Organize Your Stuff

Upcycle Organizing - by Little Bits of Granola --- You don't need to spend a bunch of money on fancy (expensive!) organizing accessories!  Use would-be trash items, like cardboard boxes, food cartons, produce bands, to organize your stuff.I have been reading Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, for almost two months now.  It has been encouraging and uplifting while I work to simplify things in my life.  The book is written as a day book with a passage for each day of the year.  When I first picked it up, I wasn’t sure if I should start with reading the passage for June 19 (the actual current date) or January 1.  Beginning with the January 1 passage is definitely the right way to go because Simple Abundance isn’t just a day book, it is a guided journey and you must start from the beginning.  I’ll continue to share tidbits I’ve taken away from reading Simple Abundance as they help me in my own journey.

One concept that really stuck with me from January’s chapter was the idea of getting your home in order.  Sarah explains that “There is an immediate emotional and psychological payoff to getting our houses in order”.  This quote rings true with me.  Chaotic spaces make me feel tense and overwhelmed.  Clean, organized spaces can either make me feel calm and relaxed or focused and productive.  I had begun working on this – finishing projects, organizing (sometimes reorganizing) spaces, decluttering – before I began Simple Abundance; but the book really motivated me to become more diligent and purposeful with these efforts.

So, of course, I plan to share my “getting my home in order” progress with you!  Let’s start with these storage cubes.  You see these everywhere and I felt pretty good when I first began using them because now certain things had a home.  I use them to store arts and crafts stuff, both for me and for my kids.

Upcycle Organization: How I used would-be trash items, like food cartons and cans, to organize these storage cubes more effectively -- by Little Bits of Granola

But I still found myself frustrated because while each cube housed certain items, the cubes are just big and empty inside so even though I started out with everything inside neatly stacked, everything eventually ended up sort of thrown in.  I ended up with several small boxes of disarray instead of one big one.  My challenge with this was that I couldn’t find the right organizing accessories at the right price (ahem, next to nothing) and I was becoming rather frustrated and discouraged with this organizing project.

Upcycle Organization: How I used would-be trash items, like food cartons and cans, to take these storage cubes from this mess to organized and functional. -- by Little Bits of Granola

Then I had an epiphany!  All I really needed were dividers to give each cube smaller sections.  That is something I could easily make – and they didn’t need to be pretty since they will be down inside the cubes.  So I made a simple four-way divider out of a cardboard box.  It’s pretty straight forward – just cut two pieces to fit across the cube (or other container); then cut slits in the middle of each piece about halfway down.  Then fit the two pieces together to make a “+”.   I did this with a small basket I got from Dollar Tree to make a writing utensil holder too.  I’ll show you step-by-step how I made these in just a bit.

Upcycle Organization: How I used would-be trash items, like food cartons and cans, to organize storage cubes more effectively -- by Little Bits of Granola

Once I realized I didn’t need to buy a bunch of fancy organizing accessories, I began to see the potential for organizing in everything!  I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of this before.  I love upcycle projects, so this is right up my alley.

I used some old plastic cups that I had saved from a party (yeah, I’m one of those people) that had been storing pencils and paintbrushes.  I just stuck them down in sections created by the new dividers to keep storing these items, but now the cardboard divider holds them upright and just makes the whole cube more organized.

Along with saving plastic cups, I also save the rubber bands from fresh produce.  I used these to bundle markers.  A raisin can stores crayons.  Old formula cans store stickers, beads, and buttons.  The possibilities are endless!

Upcycle Organization: How I used would-be trash items, like food cartons and cans, to organize storage cubes more effectively -- by Little Bits of Granola Upcycle Organization: How I used would-be trash items, like food cartons and cans, to organize storage cubes more effectively -- by Little Bits of Granola

Upcycle Organization: How I used would-be trash items, like food cartons and cans, to organize storage cubes more effectively -- by Little Bits of Granola Upcycle Organization: How I used would-be trash items, like food cartons and cans, to organize storage cubes more effectively -- by Little Bits of Granola

It can be so easy to feel discouraged about your organizing efforts when you see all of these beautiful looking spaces on Pinterest.  But remember, it doesn’t have to look like a magazine spread to be organized and functional.  Satisfaction can certainly come from a cabinet full of cute totes and baskets, but reusing cardboard boxes and food cartons can bring you the satisfaction of a well-organized space that also didn’t cost you anything – AND helped keep trash out of the landfill!  That’s a win-win-win in my book.

Ok, here is the photo version of a step-by-step on how I made the simple four-way dividers.

Upcycle Organizing - photo step-by-step for making a simple four-way divider - by Little Bits of Granola Upcycle Organizing - photo step-by-step for making a simple four-way divider - by Little Bits of Granola Upcycle Organizing - photo step-by-step for making a simple four-way divider - by Little Bits of Granola Upcycle Organizing - photo step-by-step for making a simple four-way divider - by Little Bits of Granola Upcycle Organizing - photo step-by-step for making a simple four-way divider - by Little Bits of Granola Upcycle Organizing - photo step-by-step for making a simple four-way divider - by Little Bits of Granola Upcycle Organizing - photo step-by-step for making a simple four-way divider - by Little Bits of Granola Upcycle Organizing - photo step-by-step for making a simple four-way divider - by Little Bits of Granola Upcycle Organizing - photo step-by-step for making a simple four-way divider - by Little Bits of Granola Upcycle Organizing - photo step-by-step for making a simple four-way divider - by Little Bits of Granola Upcycle Organizing - photo step-by-step for making a simple four-way divider - by Little Bits of Granola

Clear as mud?  If you have any questions on how I made these, please feel free to comment below.

Ok, here is another sneak peak at my master bedroom makeover.  Just a glance at a set of shelves my husband built.  I am in love with it and can’t stop staring at it.  Come back next week for the full reveal!

Sneak Peek Master Bedroom Makeover - A Simple Set of Shelves -- by Little Bits of Granola

Linked up at Living Well Spending Less, Savvy Southern Style, and A Bowl Full of Lemons.

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