Frugal Organization: 10 Containers to Reuse or Recycle for Craft Supplies

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source: One Good Bumblebee

source: One Good Bumblebee

This post was originally published on January 19,2009:

Organizing children’s craft supplies doesn’t have to be expensive! Here are 10 common items that you can reuse to help get you organized instead of throwing them away:

1. Jars

Use jars for craft supplies so that you can see how much you have. As the picture above shows, using jars is a great way to display colorful supplies as part of your decor as well!

2. Baby food containers

I’m not specifically talking about baby food jars here, although those would work as well. I prefer to use Gerber’s plastic containers for storing my craft supplies. These rectangular containers come in 2.5 oz or 4 oz and have a snap-on lid. They stack well, and I love to keep googly eyes, sorted buttons and small craft balls in these.

3. Baby wipe containers

Use an empty baby wipes container – with or without the lid – to store a variety of craft supplies. You can also use them as a child’s art box, filled with a variety of supplies for free art.

4. Shoe boxes

Shoe boxes, like baby wipes containers, are great for a variety of craft supplies. Use them for pipecleaners, paints and paint brushes, markers, crayons, etc. for an inexpensive storage solution.

5. Plastic food containers

Ricotta cheese, sour cream, cool whip – all of these containers can be washed and used as storage for craft supplies. The downside is you can’t see what is in each one or how much is left, but free is free.

6. Cans

If you have a can opener that opens cans without leaving a sharp edge, use your empty cans as pencil holders (like the crafts we all made for our parents when we were in school) or for miscellaneous doodads.

7. Paper towel rolls

If you’ve got a mess of ribbon, embroidery thread or twine, wrap them around paper towel rolls to keep them from getting tangled or knotted.

8. Parmesan cheese bottles

Say what? Yep, go ahead and remove the wrapper from your empty parmesan cheese bottle, and you now have a clear bottle with two different size openings. I love to use these for small gemstones, buttons, puff balls, etc. so that my girls can pour some into a bowl without dumping them everywhere. They can’t get them open by themselves, so I just open whichever side is more appropriate for pouring the contents.

9. Plastic bags that zip or button

So many things today come in plastic bags, from toys to baby clothes to craft supplies themselves. Use these bags to store small craft items. The bonus is that, unlike some of the other solutions mentioned above, these are more flexible than other containers and therefore take up less room. (As always, be sure to keep plastic away from babies and small children!)

10. Egg cartons

Use empty egg cartons to sort craft supplies by color, size or type, which is also a great activity for toddlers and preschoolers. (Or – as a side note – as disposable paint or glue cups).

What other items do you reuse or recycle to organize your craft supplies?

About the Author

Mandi Ehman

Hi. My name is Mandi and I’m an organizing junkie. I’m also a wife, and Momma to four little girls (5, 3.5, 2 and a new baby!). I've worked at home since our oldest was a baby, and like a lot of other moms, my life is a constant balancing act of caring for my family and my home, meeting my obligations and finding time for hobbies in there somewhere. Oh, yeah, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m somewhat of a kitchen dunce and I only like to pretend that I’m crafty. Read more here!

24 Responses to “ Frugal Organization: 10 Containers to Reuse or Recycle for Craft Supplies ”

  1. [...] this post (Frugal Organization: 10 Containers to Reuse or Recycle for Craft Supplies [...]

  2. Thank you for this article. I use several of these ideas already, but I have never thought about reusing the Parmesan cheese bottles. That is such a neat idea, and it would keep some of my craft ideas organized perfectly. Thank you so much for this idea.

    Shynea’s last blog post…BATH & BODY WORKS COUPON


  3. Those are great ideas…never thought of the baby food container one! I also like to use the puff containers for storage and the large clear containers from SAM’s…the ones that biscotti and pretzels come in. Thanks Mandi!


  4. Ooooh! I LOVE the cheese shaker idea! And I have some that’s running low…going to have to remember to save that!

    I would also save our paper rolls…but the girls give those to our gerbil so she can make her bedding…(I’m not about to go out and BUY a rodent bedding…lol)

    Brittany’s last blog post…Book #2 for 2009: Learn to Discern


  5. Great tip. I’ll be using the parmesan bottle for glitter. That stuff gets everywhere, I’m still finding it from Christmas. TFS.

    Leanne’s last blog post…Recycleables – Tutorial – Paper Doll House


  6. Ooh! I love this type of post! And I’m so excited to read the tip with Parmesan cheese bottles. I have one that’s almost empty and kept thinking, “this would be great for something. but what?” Now I know!

    Nikki’s last blog post…WFMW Peanut Butter jar uses


  7. I’m a jar girl. I love to use the plastic jugs that grapefruit sections come in – they have an indentation for grasping the container and the opening is huge. I use them for laundry detergent and other assorted powdery stuff that needs to be scooped. I do use my label maker immediately to mark to jugs so I know what’s in them.

    Have a Great Day!
    Kristin (The Goat)

    Kristin’s last blog post…WFMW – Newspaper clipping


  8. Excellent ideas! My craft room needs serious help. Thank you. :)

    Blue Castle’s last blog post…Pendant Light+New Cord+Spray Paint=Plug-In-Swag


  9. I like repurposing things for craft storage too. I store my craft paints in paper 6 pack holders in my craft room.

    Condo Blues’s last blog post…Pet ‘n Shape Natural Catch Dog Treat Review


  10. [...] Read more at Organizing Your Way… [...]

  11. These are some great ideas. I have thought about some of them at times but not all of them. I enjoyed your list!

    Jane Anne’s last blog post…Works-for-Me-Wednesday: Meal Calendar


  12. Great ideas. I love using baby food jars. However, I had never thought of using egg cartons as disposable paint/glue cups. Its perfect!


  13. Great suggestions!! I love creative recycling

    It Feels Like Chaos’s last blog post…How to Get 3 Kids Out the Door By 7:35 AM


  14. [...] And Mandi from Organizing Your Way, lists 10 containers that you probably have laying around your house that will (cheaply) help you organize your craft supplies. [...]

  15. [...] them just as pretty. Be creative and think outside of the box about things you can repurpose or recycle in your quest to get [...]

  16. [...] the school year. Photo by One Good Bumblebee 4. Craft containers. There are so many ways you can reuse packaging to organize crafts, and I think Mandi covered nearly every single one already at Organizing Your Way. From mayonnaise [...]

  17. I am looking for the small file containers. I need for a Boy Scout project please help.


  18. Great ideas, I use the baby wipe containers for small baby items too, such as the bugger-picker-upper, nail clips, extra passies, passy clips, nose drops, baby gas-x, works like a charm. And now they have the containers that are ’screen printed’ so they are decorative to boot!


  19. I like the parm cheese jar idea. Very useful.


  20. great ideas – I use and reuse ziplocks in every size from snack size for tiny things to the enormous one for the loom stuff for my kids potholder loom. My little grocery store offers their (2-3gallon) buckets from deli or bakery items (think big bucket of potato salad) for free every now and then (I bet they’d keep them for you if you asked). They have tops, sometimes handles, and are bigger, easy to write on/off with sharpie. Did you know that a magic eraser will take that sharpie right off when you are ready to change it up? Also love the parm. cheese idea – I already keep them in my sandbox for the littles to pour and scoop.
    Christy @ Family at Work´s last blog ..Public Displays of Affection My ComLuv Profile


  21. Don’t forget detergent boxes, that make fantastic paper, pattern or magazine holders. They are sturdy and smell good to boot.

    Plastic drink bottles are the perfect holder for yarn balls. Simply cut the top off one and the bottom of another. Put you yarn in the one with the bottom, run the yarn up through the neck of the one with the top and then slid it over the bottom. May crimp a bit but it keeps it tangle free and all you need do is wrap around the threaded neck a few times to keep the end ready to go.
    I was a preschool teacher for 20+ years I never threw anything away without thinking about it first.

    Oh by the way, something I used for my classes and found very convenient for myself when crafting, keep an old plastic bowl near by, I used old trick or treat buckets at work, but have a plastic ice cream bucket at home. It’s so convenient to throw trash in and even if it’s messy trash it doesn’t hurt anything and you don’t have to stop what you doing to take it to the outside trash. If you like you can recycle those plastic grocery bags (if your still using them) to line it with if you know it’s going to be mess.

    Sour cream or sm. yogurt cups make perfect water troths when painting. Plastic coffee containers are perfect storage containers too, not clear but nice fitting lid.


  22. Hi Mandi! I found you by way of Angie Warren from TCM…she listed a FB post on becoming a fan. I am now a fan too! I loved your home management system notebook video.

    My recycle items are usually the butter, sour cream, cool whip containers, etc…as well. However, I have found the following very useful too: Mini- M&M plastic tubes …holds one t—-n, very neatly without opening in your purse..hate that!LOL! I also have some of the Mentos plastic gum containers for holding buttons, paper clips, pennies, etc…
    Thea´s last blog ..Somewhere… My ComLuv Profile


  23. [...] Frugal Organization: 10 Containers to Reuse or Recycle for Craft Supplies [...]

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