Green Tip #12: Repurpose Your Pantry

Green tip? Life tip? One and the same? Isn’t that the whole point Kate??? So this tip has no stats about how much money or energy you will save, but I’ll leave  that to the magazines and books and smart people. I can tell you that the lack of clutter in my life is real, positive, and makes me happy. You can’t measure that, but if you can take my word for it, repurposing your pantry will make you more efficient and happy. Just like cleaning out your fridge, it will also make you waste less as well.

Repurposing my pantry to be a clean, functional storage spot rather than dumping ground fell under #11 & #13 on my list of 14 Reminders for When You Are Overwhelmed. I cranked on one of my favorite podcasts and threw myself into the catharsis of dividing, conquering, recycling, getting rid of food clutter, and cleaning up some gnarly balsamic vinegar stains.

If you know what you have, if you can see what you have, and it is within easy reach, you’re much more likely to have an enjoyable time cooking or preparing foods in the kitchen. I organized my ever growing collection of glass jars, my preferred method of food storage, whether it be for leftovers, brewed tea, or homemade pickles. Having them in one place, in easy reach, makes it much easier to jump up and make inspiring recipes on the fly, like this infused, sugar-free lemonade from the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen that saved my sanity, no joke, on a super hot afternoon.

Alright, I’ll show you in pictures now what happened. Thanks to Tracy Shutterbean’s High Straightenance column for the inspiration:

Step 1: Do your dishes before you start any other projects. Sigh.

Step 2: Take it all out. It’ll feel cathartic, I promise. Organize into piles, return any strays to their rightful place, chuck (and by that I mean dispose of and recycle responsibly) the random stuff you don’t need – and that’s at least one third of it.

A little note: Since my floor was dirty (obviously, when isn’t it) I put everything on a reusable bag or some giant bags I had found hidden in the back of my cabinets. Useful discovery, hello! This made sure that dishes stayed clean, but also when I was scrubbing out the cabinet bottoms, with baking soda & vinegar, that any cleaning solution went onto the bags and newspapers I had lining the floor rather than the floor itself. That is what tea is for, after all.

Step 3: Consolidate. I don’t eat oatmeal anymore, but I still have some bulk leftovers. The huge oatmeal box was taking up too much room, so I put it in two smaller containers. At least I could repurpose the coconut oil container one more time. I’ll probably make a baked good with the rest of the oatmeal and give it away, or donate it to a friend.

Step 4: Put the most used items in easy reach, with the less frequently used items in the back. This is really crucial if your pantry or storage has more depth than breadth. Luckily I can see all the way back on the lower shelves, but there are some above my head and I can only see what is up front.

Notice the ice cream maker is predominantly featured in the summer.

Step 5: Admire handiwork, bask in the glory of a de-cluttered life, and enjoy the happiness it brings.

I feel like my cabinets are proud. The leopard calendar page marks where the crockpot, which was in use, will go.

Step 6: Enjoy your new storage efficiency and kitchen productivity by making ice cream, or what have you, to celebrate.

When you live alone there is no one to help you clean, but you also are not obligated to share any ice cream.

How do you celebrate a de-cluttered lifestyle? What do you use to motivate yourself to clean? I swear, the only reason I do the dishes is because I have podcasts to listen to. And Japan is notorious for bugs. But podcasts make it much more enjoyable! We find happiness not only with less clutter, but when we can make the most out of each moment, even the cleaning ones.