Thursday, July 23, 2009
The Many Uses of Plastic Storage Bins
Many years ago, when my kids where little and had a zillion toys (all purchased at yard sales and consignment stores), I purchased (on sale) a half dozen good quality large (14-22 gallon) plastic storage bins with lids.
I taped pictures of the different kinds of toys (stuffed animals, trains, blocks, dolls, balls, etc) on the outside of the bins.
I sorted the different kinds of toys into these bins. The kids could now find and put away their toys. This kept the house, somewhat, cleaned up and made it easier to locate specific toys.
Because the bins had lids, we could stack the bins when not in use and save floor space. They were very handy.
I then purchased smaller clear containers of various sizes to store toys and games that had several pieces but had lost their boxes (or, more likely, had been purchased at yard sales without boxes.) These containers could then be stored inside the bigger container or stored on a shelf and easily stack. I put a picture of the toy/game on the top and side of the box so that it could be identified easily. This little trick made it possible to keep track of all the little pieces of various toys and games. I was very proud of myself for having all of these pieces when we later sold them at our own yard sales.
These containers were a life saver when my kids where little, but I had no idea how many other uses there were going to be for these containers.
I have had some of my storage bins for almost two decades and they look only slightly used. Amazing stuff, plastic.
Here are some of the additional ways I have used my bins:
1. Moving boxes. We have moved at least six times with these bins. They are sturdy and stack. A wonderful container for fragile items. Way more sturdy than cardboard. The money that I saved from not having to buy sturdy cardboard moving boxes recovered the original price I paid for the containers after the first two moves.
2. Out of season clothes storage. When I lived in an area of the country that actually had seasons, we had a ritual of going through the clothes each change of season - getting rid of items that didn't fit any more and putting away clothes we wouldn't need for six months. I put a sign on the outside and top of the bin stating whose clothes they were and the name of the season and year the clothes would be appropriate.
3. Storage for hand-me downs. Sometimes I had clothes that wouldn't fit for another year or two. I would put them into a bin labeled as in #2, but with a date a few years away. I would also note what sizes the clothes were.
4. Garden bins. Currently two of my bins are full of rose bushes that I got from a couple of freecyclers. They are acting as temporary planters until I get the holes dug. They could be permanent planters if I was willing to drill holes in the bottom of my wonderful bins... which I am not. The handles make it super easy to move these containers around, even when full of heavy items.
5. Road trip "baggage." When we take a road trip, we take a LOT of stuff with us. I can fill up one of the containers with books, CDs, drawing pads, extra clothing, etc. I put this in the back of our minivan (yes, I know, not too efficient on gas, but I LOVE my van) and we can easily get to these items but not have them rolling around the car.
6. Beach trip. If we are going to the beach for the day and taking tons of stuff, these are great containers. Not only are they easy for two people (or one strong person) to carry, but once you get to your place on the beach, you have a little seat. You can also drag the container across the sand by one handle. After the trip, just hose the container down and get rid of the sand. By the way, these are NOT the containers to use for food storage at the beach. They are not insulated and they will get hot inside pretty easily.
7. Pre-yard sale storage. I always have a couple of these containers being filled with items that are destined for a yard sale or charity donation. I put the container in a corner of a closet and/or in the garage. When I find some item that I want to get rid of, I can just toss it in my designated container. When the container is full, I can decide whether to go all out and put together a yard sale, or freecycle the items or drop them off at my local charity donation center.
8. Party Ice Chest for drinks. Although these containers are not insulated (as noted in #6 above) they will "make do" in a pinch for loading up with ice and sticking in cans of drinks for a party/picnic. Because they are water proof, the melting ice won't be a problem. But, because they aren't insulated, they will get condensation on the outside and drip water.... so either use them outside where it doesn't matter if the ground gets wet, or put an absorbent towel underneath so your floor doesn't get ruined.
9. Dress Up Box. I've had a giant bin with a hinged lid that has served as the "dress up box" for many years. It's the perfect size for storing light sabers and magic wands as well as tall princess hats, ball gowns, superman capes, fireman hats, wigs, toy instruments, batons, poodle skirts and other necessary garments and accessories needed for children of all ages with an active imagination.
10. Christmas/Hanukah/Birthday present secret storage. I buy presents all year long when I see them at deep discount. I store them away until the needed time in my "secret" storage bins. My kids are old enough now to just know not to look (or risk ruining their surprise), but when they were very little, I could store their presents in "plain sight" in my storage bins on a high shelf with a note that said "Presents."
I am sure that there are many more uses for these indestructible bins, but these are some of my favorites.
I purchased several kinds of bins over the years, but the ones that held up the best were the roughneck storage bins made by Rubbermaid.
When I originally purchased these containers, I had no idea what a bargain they would be. Now I know, so I am telling you.