Monday, April 25, 2011

DIY Storage: Using our Blessings to Their Fullest Potential

Our society has been shamefully labeled a “culture of consumers”.  And now that we sit in a recession, we find ourselves wondering why we were never really taught how to budget or prioritize our needs.  I find the answer lies in our definition of the word "needs".  Somehow in the last century- particularly in the last 30 or so years the line between necessity and luxury has faded.  A generation has been raised with the understanding that not only phones, computers, and televisions are a basic right...but internet, texting, and 1000's of channels are simply expected to accompany them.  And everything seems to be disposable...only built to last long enough for the next version to replace it a few months later.  Blinded by our "need" to consume, we foolishly treat the growing concept of “going green” as a new age trend or a bright new bandwagon to jump on.  Conservation, reducing waste, and recycling is not a movement forward, but rather a visit to the past. 

During the Great Depression (an ACTUAL recession) my great grandmother washed and dried her aluminum foil and reused it meal after meal.  Pie tins took turns carrying cherry, blackberry, and apple pies before they were relegated to the backyard for the grandchildren’s mud pies.  When my great grandfather wore the knees out in his enormous pants (He was 6, 5”) my great grandmother would cut the fabric down and make play clothes for my mother and her 3 sisters.  Peppermint tins were repurposed as sewing kits and aprons were not just a fashion statement. People were grateful for what they had and did what they could with it.  I’d like to teach my daughter a genuine appreciation for the blessings God gives us and the ingenuity to use everything to it’s fullest potential.  When I "need" something, I look around to what I have or what I could make, create, or repurpose.  Boxes are great for storage and organization.  I love the look of the fancy canvas boxes in the catalogs…all uniform in shape, size, and color, perfectly labeled and functional.  However, we are not always blessed with the money to purchase those, instead we're blessed with lots and lots of diaper boxes... and a roll of wrapping paper:
These boxes line the top of my art studio shelf.  They are part of my d├ęcor and get lots of use! 

These are a collection of former formula and oatmeal containers that are now my fancy pencil, paintbrush, and do-dad holders.

Would you like to share a project with your child that requires creative decision making and uses supplies already available? Of course you would! Here is the basic idea…with soup cans (or fruit and veggie cans –whatever you have!)
I use this as a project with my art students all the time!  Have fun!

1. Tear the wrapper off of used cans and discard  (make sure to only use cans that were opened with a can opener. Cans with pull-tab tops leave a very sharp edge!)
2. Wash the can thoroughly (I just put them through the dishwasher)
3. Select fun wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, or draw/paint your own
4. Measure the paper on the can and mark the size
5. Cut a panel of paper to fit around the can (cut another one for the inside for a finished look)
6. Put some glue along the edges that overlap and slide it on the can (or in the can)

7. Ta-da! Enjoy!

People always comment on how well organized, colorful, and orderly my studio (and my house) is…and I can’t help but let them in on my little secret:  An absence of finances creates an abundance of appreciation. 

Here's to potential blessings!


  1. I've been doing this too! Especially with oatmeal boxes. (I blogged it too!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. stopping by from etsy to say hello and now following you on GFC

    please stop by mine!

  3. This is so wonderful to see someone really thinking about this! I agree with the statement that going green is just a trend that will fade.. Diaper boxes used for storage?? That's seriously genious!

  4. Lovely post. I agree that "an absence of finances creates an abundance of appreciation." I think this is part of the reason why people remember their days of working toward success with more affection than finally arriving.

  5. I love to cover soup/bean cans with pretty paper.