l&l at home—FOR A TRANQUIL, ORGANIZED LIVING ENVIRONMENT, I recommend going “outside the box” and literally transferring items to bottles and other glass storage containers rather than leaving them in the loud and unattractive packaging most things come in. When we began doing this at our house, we found it to be more than simply an activity of organization or beautification. Ultimately, we realized it was a practice in mindful living, illuminating our everyday activities and the choices we make about the food we eat and the items we choose to bring into our home.
Here’s how to start:
I use various glass jars and bottles I’ve saved, canning jars I’ve purchased in various sizes, as well as other large glass containers and canisters I’ve collected from several sources. Nuts, grains, cereals, flour, dried pasta, crackers, coffees, teas—all go into glass containers. Not only is it more aesthetically appealing, it’s easier to organize and inventory, plus it keeps everything fresh much longer.
A big part of this equation is recycling: I save olive oil and other bottles that appeal to me . . .
. . . and the pretty little jars that jam or jellies often come in.
I wash off the labels and keep them on hand for a variety of uses.
It’s an eco-friendly practice, works much better than plastic wrap or foil to preserve food
—and there’s nothing like glass jars full of beautiful food stuffs to ignite your culinary creativity!
I n s p i r e d ? Read on for a few more “out of the box” ideas to organize and beautify your home.
dish soap :
I saved a brown glass bottle with a pump a favorite lotion came in for our dish soap but you can also buy apothecary style bottles with dispensers like this for a nominal price. Then, buy the largest size version of your preferred dish soap and refill as needed. The charming brown bottle is always sitting out where we can pump right into the sink. These bottles also work well for hand soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. 8 oz amber glass apothecary with black pump 16 oz amber glass apothecary with black pump
dishwasher detergent :
I use several swing-latch bottles for powdered dishwasher detergent. Not only are they more attractive than commercial packaging, the long neck allows you to easily pour into the small dispenser without spilling. Another benefit of using clear glass bottles—it’s easy to see when you are running low.
[ TIP ] Determine how many bottles you’ll need for the particular boxed detergent you purchase and fill all bottles right away rather than saving the box and refilling one bottle.
I saved a couple of tapered neck olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles that we now use to store our mouthwash. We happen to use a lavender-colored mouthwash that came on the market some time ago—very pretty to see when we open up our medicine cabinet and can even be left out on a vanity. I buy the large-sized mouthwash and just fill each person’s individual bottle as needed. (Note: I recommend fluoride-free mouthwash—and toothpaste.* )
[ TIP ] Assign each person a different shaped bottle so no need to label.
laundry detergents & softeners :
For powdered detergent, use a glass flour-size canister and a charming metal or wood scoop. (I buy bulk baking soda and have it on hand in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room for clothes washing and all sorts of cleaning around the house. Distilled white vinegar is also a staple in our house for laundry and household cleaning.) I found that large olive oil bottles can be re-purposed for liquid detergents and other liquid cleaners we make ourselves. The bottles look great lined up on our laundry shelves and the tapered necks make it easy to pour into the small dispensing cavity of our machine.
[ TIP ] Buy the larger, more economical version of any product with a long shelf life (or purchase ingredients in bulk and make up batches of your own economical/earth-friendly products): detergents, softeners, mouthwash, etc. Store these bulk items away and re-fill the bottles, canisters and jars throughout your home, as needed. This is quite a savings in the actual product cost, but also in time and energy spent in trips to the store—and less packaging waste!
water bottle :
The longneck bottles with the attached stoppers and swing-latch wire closures—such as these Glass Bottles with Swing-Latch – (or save Lorina or Rieme French Lemonade bottles)—are perfect as an attractive individual water bottle. I have one on my nightstand and one I take in the car with me. Not only are they earth-friendly, they are healthier for you and more appealing to drink from than plastic.
Swing-latch bottles and jars are also handy to take on picnics. You can make up a batch of tea or lemonade and separate into several bottles. It’s easier to pack them and keep them cold than it is to take one large container. You can either give each individual person a bottle or serve from a couple of them.
Most any leftover can be transferred to a jar or other glass container and stored that way versus plastic wrap, baggies or plastic containers. The stackable kind make it so easy to maximize and organize your refrigerator space and you can see what you have at a glance.
Bormioli Rocco’s Frigoverre is a reasonably priced high-quality line offering both rectangular and round storage containers. The bowl design is simple and clean and I often use them for casual serving. They can go directly from the table to the refrigerator or freezer and they are microwave and dishwasher safe, as well.
milk, juice, etc :
You can transfer milk and juices and the like to glass carafes, pitchers, or large bottles or jars you have saved. They are more attractive than cartons; keep everything nicely chilled and they can go right to the table that way.
[ TIP ] Write directly on the bottom of jars and bottles—using a glass marker—to note expiration dates and label anything not easily distinguishable. Alternatively, you can use labels, chalkboard tape or charming wood hang-tags with twine.
It may seem a little overwhelming to think about transferring so many items, but just start collecting bottles and other glass containers over time. Purchase a few new here and there and be on the look-out for bottles and jars you already buy that might be suitable for another purpose. I promise that once you have the method down for each area of your home, it won’t seem like a chore at all.
It’s an eco-friendly practice as well as economical—impetus enough for most people to do this. In addition, it is rewarding each time you open up your pantry or refrigerator and see everything lined up all neatly displayed. Rather than being bombarded by loud advertising, you’ll be greeted by a peaceful storehouse of colors and textures——Feng Shui Heaven!
Label Idea: Chalkboard Tape
photo credits: 1,4,5,7,8,9,10,15,20-l&l at home, by L for linenlavenderlife.com; 2,3,6,11,17,18,19,,21, 22-A Well Kept Home-Household Traditions and Simple Secrets from a French Grandmother; 12-homemade ginger soda via True Brews by Emma Christensen; 13,14-Frigoverre by Bormioli Rocco; 16, 17-Anchor Hocking, Libbey
*ewg verified products wherever possible