How To Control Plastic Container Clutter

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People participating in our Fall Kitchen Cure are closing in on the final days of the process. If there's one question we've seen again and again it's how to deal with those pesky plastic containers. Stacey Platt, a professional organizer here in NYC, gave me some tips to share with you.Plastic food storage containers are a serious kitchen clutter culprit. Who isn’t guilty of hoarding far more than they actually ever use at once? Here are a few tips to keep the beast at bay:
  • Save the best. Keep sets of containers, which are made to nest.
  • Get rid of the rest. Unless you have a specific use for them, give away, re-purpose or recycle packaging containers such as cream cheese or margarine tubs. Throw out warped, melted or otherwise damaged containers or containers with missing lids.
  • Invest. If you have a hodgepodge of containers that don’t stack well, consider investing in a set. Buy only two sizes, small and large, so that all of your containers will nest to perfection and take up the least amount of space in your cabinet. Plus, you will only ever have to choose between two lid sizes, saving time as well as space. Choose square containers, which take up less space than round ones.
  • Nest and contain. Nest the containers by size on an assigned shelf or drawer. Use a basket to hold lids or store them upright by placing a dish rack or a napkin holder in the cabinet.

- Stacey Platt is a professional organizer in New York City (see DwellWellNYC.com) and author of the forthcoming What's a Disorganized Person to Do? (Artisan Books, 2010).

Here are a few of our favorite food storage containers. I prefer glass to plastic, but admit that going the glass route can bring the cost up.

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OXO's TOP Containers ($3.99 - $9.99) Spill-proof with a nifty press-and-go ring so you know when it's locked and when it's not. Also, these containers are BPA-free, which can't be said for all plastic. The clear lid is a nice touch.
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Crate & Barrel's Glass Storage Containers (3-piece set, $11.95) One of the most economical glass options I've found. Not necessarily spill-proof, but great for anyone intending to heat in the microwave, or wanting to rid their lives of plastic. They nest nicely.

Related: Five Ways to Re-Use Yogurt Containers

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