Saving items for reuse–how much is too much?

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on February 7, 2013

As I finished off the instant oats the other morning I looked at the container and thought: There MUST be something I can use this for!

I mean it’s a nice sturdy cardboard container.  It’s got a metal bottom.  And a lid.

My mind immediately sped through the options-I could make a bank.  I could cover it with pretty paper and store things in it.  I could use it as a gift box (wrapped of course).

But here’s the thing:

I don’t need a bank right now.

Or a cylinder shaped storage container.

I’ve got an entire bin full of gift boxes upstairs.

I hate to throw out a perfectly good container–but as big as my house is I really only need so much random stuff cluttering it up without a purpose.  I hold on to a lot–I’ve got five or six sturdy shoe boxes that I just know will come in handy, an entire cupboard full glass bottles and jars in the basement, a trash bag full of bubble wrap from packages, a stack of file folders just screaming to be reused. .. but there really is only so much that I can store for “someday” when I might need it.  At least only so much that will allow me to keep my sanity.  So this time I just tossed it in the trash.

What do you think?  How much stuff is too much?  Where is the line between saving things for later use and hoarding?  Or between being sensible by tossing it out and being wasteful?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca February 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm

So funny– I just recycled an oatmeal container that was sitting on my kitchen desk for weeks waiting for inspiration!

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 7, 2013 at 9:04 pm

It’s just a shame that our society is so wasteful–I hate adding to it by throwing stuff away. But let’s face it, we only need so many cardboard containers.

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Avlor February 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm

It can be hard to decide how much is enough. I had to give up many of my saved boxes this last year – we needed the space they were taking and there was no where else for them to go! I’m starting to think that if I’ve got the space, I can keep it. If not – then no. (And putting them on hubby’s side of the bed or in the refrigerator won’t work!)

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 7, 2013 at 9:06 pm

*snort* Hubby’s side of the bed is NOT an option ;)

I like to reuse things, I like to have redundancies etc–but it can take over. Seriously–I’ve already got more glass jars than I should keep. . . but I hate getting rid of them because I KNOW they are a functional item. . . sigh.

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Lora February 7, 2013 at 6:33 pm

I have an ongoing struggle with drawing the line as far as what to save for possible later use and keeping the things I’ve saved organized. My husband has a lower tolerance than clutter than I do so I’ve cut back on how many things I save since getting married.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 7, 2013 at 9:06 pm

it’s all a balance and a compromise :)

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Julie February 8, 2013 at 5:40 am

Oh, I struggle with this!
I save boxes and containers for a while and then decide I’ll probably not need them and get rid of them. Invariably, the next day my son will come home from school announcing he needs a shoe box for a class project. Last Christmas we decided to make a lot of the gifts we gave, and they all needed packaging. I had to (gasp!) buy some gift boxes.

I love to use empty oatmeal containers as gift boxes. They’re especially good for gifts in jars.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Don’t you hate it when that happens. I’ve done that will those packing peanuts-thrown out a huge trash bag full and then within a month it seems like I have to mail something and wish I had some! But there does have to be a balance.

I think it’s great to reuse them–but I’ve started to kind of keep a mental limit to how many I’ll let myself have. . .

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AmyP February 8, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Love this article Sis!!! I look at this way, if it is recyclable (cardboard, glass, alum, plastics….) it isn’t going in a landfill. We now have two recyling outdoor trash cans the size of our regular trash can (the city will give you all you need) and we always have a full recycle bin sometimes 1.5 bins on trash day and maybe a full garbage can. It makes me feel better about de-cluttering.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Recycling does make me feel less guilty. Some of it I am even able to compost–which makes me feel super duper sustainable ;) We always seem to have plenty for the recycle folks (in our town you have to pay for private trash pickup-it’s not a town service, and the recycling is only every other week)

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Laura C February 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm

If I can recycle it, I don’t feel bad. The other stuff that I do feel bad about throwing away-oatmeal containers, egg cartons, baby food containers that aren’t recyclable I donate to either our preschool or local children’s museum. They ask for those and I have no guilt about putting them in the trash. Of course then I have two huge bags of that stuff sitting in my office/storage room til I have enough to donate but its worth it.

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Bev @ The Make Your Own Zone February 10, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Just tonight I threw an oatmeal container in the trash, then took it back out, then threw it away again – It just seemed like I should keep it and use it for something – but I didn’t know what. I can so relate.

Right now I’ve got one big box of random jars that I’m saving and I’m trying to limit myself to that. We’ll see if I can do it. :)

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 11, 2013 at 9:20 am

I am so there with you Bev! Our society is so wasteful, and I hate that, but my house is so cluttered I can’t keep (or use) it all. . . good luck with your jar goal!

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Deborah Aldridge February 11, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I seem to remember something on Pinterest that reused oatmeal boxes….

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