Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I am so cheap-container reuse

Aside from my seed addiction I  must confess I have another. The upside to this one is that essentially it is a free  addiction, however, this one is much more space consuming and does not look nearly as nice as the seeds do. In fact this one is quite ugly and makes me look like some bat loony hoarder person since there is  no way to hide them or pack them away. Nope, right in the corner of the living sits my large, overflowing, dust attracting, mish mash of empty containers that I collect.

Since we are not much in the way of consumers this is something that  I have been doing for quite sometime  in order to obtain  my expansive  collection.  I have everything from condiment and herb containers, to pill bottles,  coffee containers, onion bags and oil bottles. If I have bought it in the last few years and it has a reusable container, with  the exception of peanut butter, I wash it and it goes to my collection in the giant box in the living room.

Because we grow about 85-90% of our own food here on the land we  actually do use most of these containers over the course of a year. The box is set to overflow because we are nearing the end of winter and as we use our stocks the containers get  washed  and so the cycle goes. I keep collecting  because  eventually  they do wear out and we will need replacements.  And hey if the SHTF one day, I will be the  one  with the seed and   container carrying goat drawn wagon when all the other containers have ceased to exist.

One of the things we buy consistently is non dairy creamer. Don't look at me that way! My old boss on the dairy farm  looked at me that way too n then asked "why oh why do you choose the chemicals when you have 50 thousand pounds of fresh milk and all the cream you could ever want right here?"  I just like it and I can't answer why. Any way, all those containers make good dry good storage. Here in the  rainforest mountains of North Ga, salt and sugar do not fair well when left in the original store bought containers. The creamer containers hold them wonderfully and a large container will hold 5 pounds of salt exactly. 2  large containers will hold 5 pounds of sugar or 4 pounds of spaghetti noodles. They are then   able to be stored indefinitely.

Oil, condiment and herb containers are all generally used for  the same purposes once there original product is gone .Medicinal oils and tinctures are generally made in glass olive oil bottles. Pill containers become seed  containers that are pretty water proof compared to paper packets.Old water or soda bottles are saved for soda that we make here. Sour creme and other mid size containers are used for  freezing eggs. 16 oz containers hold 8 of our smaller eggs while the 24 oz containers hold a dozen larger eggs. Old onion or potato bags are used for onions, garlic or potatoes here.

We dry a lot of our summer veggies here.Unlike some, we don't store the majority of our food for long term storage. The bulk of it is meant to go simply from one season to the next and then we begin again. Because of this most any container  that seals tightly can be used for storage purposes.Yes, I know, mason jars are nice because we can see the contents but  around here they are also at a premium. That though is a a whole other addiction.

Often times  if a used  container can serve no other purpose for anything that you can see, there is   still a purpose, you just haven't seen it yet. Here,  the "I dunno's" generally get used for feed or water dishes, planters, or seed starters.  Very  few containers of any sort  get thrown out.

Believe it or not I was once a neat freak. Everything had its place and clutter was  something I abhorred.  When  we first  gravitated to a more sustaining life style of growing , preserving and  preparing the majority of our food here on the land I still despised clutter and tossed everything in the trash. Manthing who is a saver of all things was forever on me about throwing things out as I was on him about keeping things. Over several years I have learned that many many  vessels are needed to store stuff and things in and since our consumption of bought things has gone down  considerably, I have realized  the importance of saving the containers of  the few things that we do buy and I have learned  that there is very little true garbage out there after just one use.


  1. Can we swap? I save all containers (generally glass and recycle the plastics, if its not recycleable I look for a reuse craft wise). DH wants me to toss them all because they are everywhere, and I want to keep them all, well because I have an addiction, at least its one that doesn't cost a dime, we have to purchase these items anyway (that's my story and I'm sticking to it)

  2. Do you worry about the potential of harmful chemicals leaching out of the plastics as they break down after so many uses?
    I will admit I keep some plastics for reuse. My under sink area is like Fibber McGee's Closet.
    I do recycle most of my glass and plastics because I hate clutter! ;)


  3. I worry a bit Susan, but at the same time if I let my self fuss too much over things we would be hunter-gatherers and eat nothing but fresh foods.

    As far as recycling here,lol, what a joke. They just started recycling magazines and cardboard here plastic and glass are still light years away.

  4. I tend to stay away from plastics whenever possible, but do save glass containers for the very purposes you mentioned above.

    Recycling here is a joke as well.*sigh* Our option is to buy less plastic and we burn paper as firestarter, wash and reuse tinfoil as well as plastic storage bags, so very little garbage here, what we don't eat the poultry, dogs or pigs eat( when we have them).

  5. We had a tornado watch here a few years ago. I imagined if it hit our house or the one next door, there would be a great whirling cloud of containers in the air....because we've got a bunch of them in our cellars!
    I like your goat cart lady image much better! do you have your cart yet?
    My fav containers this year have been the ones that the veg bouillon comes in. They have nice screw on lids & good size for saving seeds in.