Recycled Toy Storage

Our older son has several games and toy sets that contain lots of tiny little pieces.  Most of them came from Goodwill and their original boxes were long gone.  Or the original boxes were cardboard and not very sturdy.  I wanted a way to keep everything organized and also be able to see what was inside at a glance, and I didn’t want to go buy a bunch of plastic organizing bins. I wanted to come up with a solution that wouldn’t cost anything at all.

In what would seem to be an unrelated occurrence, last year the almond butter that we buy at Costco started being packaged in a plastic container instead of glass.  At first I was bummed – I’m all about glass packaging and don’t buy much that comes in plastic.  But we like that almond butter and it’s a good price, so we tend to go back and forth between making our own in the food processor and buying the stuff from Costco.

Anyway, I went ahead and bought a couple jars at Costco when they first switched to plastic containers.  And once we used them up, I was pleased to see how well the jars cleaned up.  The labels came off easily and left us with a nice clear storage container – in plastic rather than glass.  I have tons of reused glass containers that I used for food storage, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable storing toys in them.  But the plastic jars (which I wouldn’t reuse for food) work perfectly for toys:


Each time we’ve used up a jar of that almond butter, I’ve cleaned it up and used it to corral stuff that used to be in ziplock bags in the playroom.  They’re great for the boys’ craft supplies like popsicle sticks:


They’re pretty much perfect for what we need:  They’re clear, so it’s easy to see what’s inside – no labels necessary.  It’s easy for little hands to get the lids off.  They were free, since we were buying the almond butter anyway and the jars would otherwise have just ended up in the recycle bin.  And I think they look pretty cool all lined up on top of the toy shelves in the playroom:


What’s your favorite way to reuse containers and keep them out of the recycle bin?

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  1. says

    I LOVE this! My son has so many toys and puzzles with small parts. We’re constantly trying to find ways to corral them. I might need to start buying almond butter so I can use a similar solution :)

  2. says

    I also get bummed when things come in plastic jars because I reuse all of the glass jars for food storage or for making jam or relish. Since I don’t have small children I’ll have to find some other small things to store in them. Thanks for the idea :)

  3. kat89 says

    I reuse plastic jars as mini-greenhouses for seed starting. I just cut the jar about 2/3 of the way from the bottom, put in the soil, seeds and lightly water it, place the top over the bottom half (sometimes it will slip over, sometimes I have to put a couple of slits in the bottom half and bend it in so the top fits over) and then I put it in my dining room, where it gets morning sun. As the plant grows, I removed the jar lid, and when it ready to be transplanted, it’s usually a pretty good size. I do this with tomatoes every year. I also reuse nice glass or plastic bottles for homemade salad dressing (mother-in-law’s recipe). I make it for hostess gifts because everyone loves it, especially in my husbands family.

  4. Frugal Vegan Mom says

    We buy that same almond butter! Now that mine is getting old enough for smaller toys, I will totally use that idea!

  5. Spring76 says

    I’m trying to set up a vegetable garden with as little money as possible so plastic trays and containers are used as cheap flower pots, seed trays and flower pot saucers.

    N.B. How is the frugal babe garden coming along? I’m interested to know how much area of raised beds do you have now and how much of your vege bill does that cover?

    • frugalbabe says

      We reduced the size of our garden last year, because 23 beds was just too much to keep up with. We planted trees where nine of the beds had been, and kept 14 beds for vegetables. That was perfect, and we were able to maintain the garden and grow a lot of food. We’re able to grow enough tomatoes and greens to last until about January (thanks to freezing and canning), and we’re still using carrots that I froze last fall. Our produce bill during the summer is almost non-existent now, thanks to the garden in our yard. But our potatoes and onions were used up by about November, so we’ve been buying those all winter. I would say that our food bill is cut in half from about July through October though. Best of luck with your garden!

      • Spring76 says

        Thank you.

        23 beds! sounds a lot – how big are the beds? Did you plant fruit trees in the 9 beds?

        I work full time and I’m aware that their will be a pay off between what I can look after and how much food I can produce.

        I am going to use the “no dig” method to reduce the workload though, a brilliant site for this is although it’s UK based the principals should be the same.
        Spring :-)

        • frugalbabe says

          Our beds are between 32 and 45 square feet each, so 13 of them is quite a large garden. We planted pine trees in the beds we stopped using – we already had 15 fruit trees in the back yard and that is plenty! The “no-dig” method looks a whole lot easier than the double-dig method we used! We dug all of our beds by hand, down about 18 – 24 inches below the surface. Then we dug compost into the soil and we continue to add compost each year. It’s quite a process, but the hardest part is behind us. All of this talk about gardens is making me excited for spring!

          • Spring76 says

            I think my growing area is about half the size of yours, but there are only two of us, so I’m quite excited that we can get a large proportion of our food – at least in summer – out of the garden. Summers in south England look cooler than yours (I’m remembering the photos of your pepper plants!) and peppers and tomatoes need to be in a polytunnel or greenhouse really, so I’ll be growing more veg suitable to a cooler climate. I can’t wait to get started!

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