This Is How You Can Organize Your Home Without Plastic, According to a Pro Organizer

published Apr 16, 2023
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Collage of product silos
Credit: Photos: The Container Store; Design: Apartment Therapy

Using containers around my home lets me at least look as though I live in a neatly organized space (even if they’re mostly just hiding my clutter). A lot of home organizing content relies on sorting things into bins or containers. From acrylic dividers in my fridge, to lidded boxes inside the cupboards, to plastic baskets on the counter, I can see tons of non-recyclable plastic when I look around my home. It isn’t great for the environment — and honestly, a lot of it isn’t great for my home aesthetic, either. 

I reached out to Holly Blakey, a professional organizer at Breathing Room Home, on her advice for anyone looking to make an effort in minimizing (or completely ditching) plastic usage in home organization.

Ditching Plastic

Blakey shares that there’s been more of an interest in ditching plastic among her clients. “It’s probably environmentally led,” says Blakey. And it also helps that the trend right now is “a more warm, natural look, so people are leaning into that.”

As consumers have started making an effort to use more environmentally friendly homeware, the demand for natural materials, like wood and woven items, has grown. “People want the end result to look good,” says Blakey, but if the goal is to pick more environmentally friendly storage options, it may seem counterintuitive to get rid of the plastic you already have and buy new stuff. 

In these cases, you have a few options.

  1. You can slowly move toward plastic-free storage by continuing to use the plastic containers until they (inevitably) break, then replacing them with more natural fibers.
  2. If you’re ready to replace a plastic container that is still in good condition, you could donate it or post it on your local Buy Nothing group, so it can continue to be used by someone else.
  3. You can also find ways to repurpose plastic containers in your own home. Blakey suggests using them in the garage to organize tools, using them to store crayons and stickers in the kids’ craft area, and relegating them to closets and drawers where they’re less visible.

“I think it’s really good to look around your house and say ‘Okay, what can I be using that I already have?’ instead of going out and spending all of this money and having to get rid of what I own now,” says Blakey.

Alternatives to Plastic

The obvious alternative to plastic storage boxes is baskets. Whether you opt for seagrass, rattan, rope, fabric, or bamboo, “baskets can work for almost anything,” says Blakey. 

You can use them in a closet or a pantry (like this felt one), but baskets are also usually good-looking enough to put on display, too, such as this seagrass belly basket. “I love belly baskets because they’re inexpensive and can be used in any space: pantries, playrooms, even on the countertop to wrangle changing cables,” says Blakey.

Use large baskets as a laundry hamper or storage for the kids’ toys — like this one — and use smaller ones on counters or open shelving. 

You could also go with a wire basket if you don’t want that “natural look” that most baskets tend to have. They are also a great replacement for translucent plastic boxes because you can see their contents at a glance.

As well as wire, metal tins or boxes can also make a more eco-friendly alternative to smaller plastic containers in a pantry or under the sink. Blakey likes this metal and wood one. “I use these Tosca baskets in almost every project — especially kitchens, pantries, and laundry rooms. They’re a perfect size for cabinet and pantry shelves and make any space look stylish,” says Blakey.

Another way to swap out plastic in the kitchen is with glass. Glass jars and containers can replace clear plastic decanters in the pantry or the fridge. You don’t even have to go out and buy glass jars when a lot of the food you buy comes in glass jars that could be reused. Equally, don’t feel you must decant everything in your pantry. Blakey recommends metal bull clips or wood laundry clips for resealing food packages.

With so many stylish ways to organize your home using alternative materials, it’s easier than ever to ditch the plastic. But to be truly environmentally friendly, you will also need a plan to repurpose or recycle the plastic containers you already have.