Organizing Solutions that Won’t Cost You a Penny!

Today I’m excited to share with you free and eco-friendly organizational solutions.  Anyone who knows me and my fondness for the Container Store knows that I love shiny new containers and supplies as much as anyone.  However, I also get a kick out of coming up with creative solutions for saving money and reducing our impact on the environment.  I was inspired to share these ideas because of an exciting new development for Embrace Your Space NYC; the collaboration with Jugglebox, an eco-friendly moving box company.   Jugglebox rents out plastic, reusable moving boxes, saving people money on cardboard boxes, time otherwise spent assembling and breaking down boxes, and preventing all that cardboard from ending up in our landfills.  Like Jugglebox, the tips you’ll find below are easy on the wallet and friendly to the environment.

Use What You’ve Got!

Rather than buying new containers, repurpose household items.  For areas you want to tidy up but that aren’t on display, like junk drawers, office supplies, and bathroom items, consider the following options. I’ve calculated the savings along the way so you can see how much you’ll save yourself by making your own containers. Links are also provided for you to see the store-bought versions of the containers you can make for free. Plus, every container you up-cycle to use in your home reduces your negative impact on the environment!

1. For Drawers (such as office supplies, kitchen utensils, or bathroom items), try:

  • Small yogurt and cream cheese containers
  • Take-out food containers
  • Plastic fruit containers
  • Cereal boxes (cut them down to 2 inches, as shown below)

Bathroom Supplies


Kitchen Drawer Before and After



SAVINGS: By reusing these cardboard and plastic containers, you save $10-40 you would otherwise spend on mesh, acrylic, and silicone store-bought containers

2. For small Odds ‘n Ends, try:

  • Altoids tins (don’t forget to label!)


These are great for batteries, paper clips, binder clips, rubber bands, push pins, twisty ties, safety pins, headphones, and anything else small that tends to disappear in junk drawers

  • Take-out dipping sauce containers




SAVINGS: You’d need to shell out around $15 for manufactured plastic containers

3. For Jewelry, try:

  • Ice cube trays



Egg cartons



SAVINGS: Jewelry organizers and boxes run between $15 and $30

4. For scarves, socks, stockings, and accessories in drawers, try making dividers using:

  • Shoe boxes
  • Tissue boxes

SAVINGS: Plastic and Linen drawer organizers can be purchased for $15-20 apiece.





What do I do with…

Old Paint Cans?

If the paint is still good (less than 10-15 years old for oil-based paints and 3-5 years for latex paints), consider donating it to Habitat for Humanity, Freecycle, or another local organization that can benefit from it.

If the paint needs to be disposed of, make sure to do it in a way that won’t pollute drinking water and the environment.

  • Latex paints can be dropped off at specific locations.  For New York City residents, visit this site for more information.  For non New Yorkers, visit your local government’s website or email me and I’ll be happy to let you know how to easily dispose of your paint.
  • Oil-based paints are considered hazardous and need to be taken to a Hazardous Waste facility.  New Yorkers, visit this site to find the location nearest you.

Visit Earth911 to learn more about how to dispose of just about everything in an eco-friendly way.