Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ruthless Organizing: Tools and Tricks

I know it isn't always screamingly obvious but we're a pretty 'crunchy' family...even more so in the past few years. Which is another part of the problem. We needed to get real and stop trying to save, reuse, and repurpose everything in sight. Not that you shouldn't, but that it wasn't working.

By investing in tools that really work for us we were able to start fresh and stay the course – meaning less packaging, more bulk pantry supplies in our own glass containers, more use of our reusable produce bags, and control over our 'un-paper' products - too many rags to wash is just as wasteful as too many paper towels. Did I mention that article from Sunset really set something off in me? It did.

A few things that helped:


1) Investing in and using containers that really work for us:

We use a lot of canning jars because we have them and they are the right size for most things we need in the pantry. Bigger containers store grains, etc. Baskets confine and store unpaper towels, etc - if if doesn't fit in the basket it doesn't belong in the house.


2) Bistro Markers - aka chalk markers:

I bought one of these on a whim - it's the best thing I've probably ever bought. We use it all the time, on everything. Chalk markers, much like many dry erase markers don't have to be confined to chalkboards - any slick surface will work (test it first, of course).

We use our chalk marker on our big chest freezer (the top is painted with chalkboard paint), on the tops of containers in the fridge (plastic and glass - to note the contents and date), on our fridge, on jars in the pantry, and pretty much anywhere else I want to label and erase/change easily.

I don't have any, but I'm guessing china markers do all the same things...with even less waste. If this marker ever runs out (it's been years) I might go that route.


3) Labels:

Plain old labels. I make my own and have some available for you to download, edit, print and use however you like.

Funny enough, labeling even simple spaces has helped us - my husband loved when I labeled the linen closet and is prompt and helpful when putting items away there now. Victory in two parts: organization, and help! Sometimes a system is the entire solution.


Ok - so for those label downloads. You have a few options. All are writable PDFs - so just click where the text is, change to whatever you like, and print away. Print on label paper, or plain, heavier stock or not - whatever you need! Need quick laminating? Cover the smaller labels with packing tape on both sides and cut out the label - bonus, if you leave the label blank you can write on it with a dry erase marker and reuse it over and over!

All the labels use the font "lobster" which is free - if it doesn't show up in the file try downloading here and installing the font.

Download the PDF here: Organizing Labels (go to File (on the left side), Download Original File - then open and change on your computer from there!)



k said...

That chalk marker sounds so interesting! I've never heard of it before. And the thought that labeling something helped your husband makes me laugh - I'm sure Mark would totally appreciate something like that too!

PaperPhine said...

Ah, labeling - I think you've finally inspired me to really do it! So many boxes in my boyfriend's cabinets (since I was the one who moved I have no idea what's in them or forget it constantly) that definitely need some labelling! I like the idea of baskets, too, though I'm a bit worried that things get dusty too quickly. Anyways, thanks for sharing these tricks and tips!
Linda / PaperPhine

Whitney @ Nesting Season said...

We just made the leap to purchasing new storage containers this year, and it's made all the difference to have improved uniformity, visibility, and functionality. I also use the chalk pens and love them.

As for the labeling . . . what's that they say about good intentions? I've got the pantry taken care of, but that's just the beginning. Your charming labels and helpful husband might have bumped that task up the priority list. Thanks!