Do You Need to Buy New Stuff to Tidy Up Old Stuff?

Woman shopping at the Container Store, standing in front of a shelf of organizing baskets and wondering if she really has to buy new stuff to tidy up her old stuff at home.

Why shop for new stuff when you can simply rearrange? Here’s how you can tidy up using organising items you probably already have.

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Ever since Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up went stellar bestseller in 2014, it seems an entire industry has cropped up around home organisation. Going hand-in-hand with this is the notion that you have to go out and buy new stuff to tidy the old stuff you are trying to declutter and organise. In the kitchen, for example.

Utilising mason jars or tuppers to rein in unwieldy packages of foodstuffs that refuse to stay closed makes sense, yes. It can also look very tidy when everything has a uniform look.

Before You Buy New Stuff to Tidy

Before you spend money on new baskets and jars and buckets and trays though, do your decluttering first and see what you have already.

Woman shopping at the Container Store, standing in front of a shelf of organizing baskets and wondering if she really has to buy new stuff to tidy up her old stuff at home.

In all likelihood you won’t need to purchase two hundred smackaroos’ worth of clear plastic containers. Unless perhaps you have a McMansion-sized pantry which always needs to be kept stocked to feed an entire football team over a long weekend. (I’m looking at you, The Home Edit.)

So weed through your stash and toss any expired items first. Determine what you use, what is still good, and what needs to go. You likely already have suitable containers at hand to then organise everything. Tuppers, a repurposed cosmetic tray from the bath, empty pickle and mustard jars. All of these can be put to use in the kitchen to neatly divide up the contents of drawers or de-canter staples.

If you do need to buy new stuff to tidy and make some purchases in the home org department, consider picking sustainable materials to organise with, such as raffia or glass, instead of plastic.

I purchased these preserving jars to store dried staples in the kitchen over 20 years ago. They were inexpensive, are easy to keep clean, absolutely durable, and still look good:

Image shows close up of clean mason jars holding dried staples such as rice, soy puffs, popcorn, dried mushrooms, coconut, MSG.

The Psychological Impact of Repurposing

Apart from saving money, another one of the benefits of repurposing items you already own is the psychological satisfaction it brings.

When you give a second life to an item, you’re not just organising your space; you’re also making a conscious choice to extend the life of your items and reduce waste. And by resisting the urge to buy new, you’re also training your sense of mindfulness in learning to be content with what you have.

Over time, this mindset can lead to more sustainable habits, not just in organising but in other aspects of life as well.

It’s Also Better for the Environment

Every time we choose to repurpose an item instead of buying new, we’re making a small but significant contribution to a cleaner environment.

Manufacturing new products consumes resources and energy, and that results in more carbon emissions. By using what we already have, we’re welding our consumer power to reduce the demand for new products, thereby decreasing our carbon footprint.

Plus, when you do have to buy new stuff to tidy up, by opting for eco organising products made from sustainable materials like glass or raffia over plastic, we’re supporting industries that are kinder to our planet. It’s a ripple effect: one small choice can lead to a larger impact, promoting a more sustainable and eco-friendly world.

Have you bought into the plastic container craze to organise your stuff? Drop a comment and share your thoughts!

Woman shopping at the Container Store, standing in front of a shelf of organizing baskets.
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