Junk? Trash? No! Hands off my stash!

“To invent, you need you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” Thomas Edison

rose in bud vase

The organizational bug hit me the other day, so I began fall cleaning a little early. Starting a little at a time, I tackled my dresser drawers, the night stand and my food pantry. Amazing how much junk one can collect. Some of it is so easy to pitch! Other items, not so much.

I came across a pile of greeting cards, which gave me a well-deserved cleaning break. Sorting through the anniversary, birthday, thank-you and Mother’s Day cards, I found some real gems, especially the handmade cards from my brood.


One of the best things I found was a construction paper card filled with coupons. It was made by my now 18-year-old son. Lucky for me, he was unaware of expiration dates at the ripe old age of ten, so I promptly presented him with the, “1 Free Room Clean Up (without groans)” coupon. I held onto the original, so I can present it again later this week when he needs to borrow the car…

Moving into the kitchen, I pitched boxes of cereal that had less than one serving remaining, stale crackers and cookies, and a bottle of dry creamer that I forgot was even there. I don’t even know why it was in the cupboard. Dumping all the contents into the trash, and crushing boxes for the recycle bin, I held onto the empty plastic creamer bottle.

“Surely there will be a good use for this,” I thought, as I washed the container.

A chill ran down my spine. I was turning into my grandmother!

My maternal grandmother, a product of the Great Depression, kept everything. I mean, everything! Newspapers, cat food cans, scraps of foil, boxes of all shapes and sizes, plastic bags – the list is endless.

She was a firm believer in reuse, reduce, recycle long before it was a popular catch phrase. And as much as I used to roll my eyes when she insisted I pull something out of the trash, I now get it.

Believe me when I say I have my own collection. Sparkling water bottles make great containers for my chocolate and lemon cellos. I wash and re-use spice containers for the herbs I am growing in my garden, which are now drying in bunches in my kitchen. Since I make my own deodorant and tooth paste, I use containers from all kinds of leftovers, looking for that perfect package. My homemade laundry detergent is in an old sherbet container. Gallon-size plastic tea jugs are lined up, waiting for me when I start making the liquid detergent again. Old Ball and Mason jars are shoved in a cabinet for when I figure out how to can tomatoes, which better be soon as I have at least 100 Romas ready to turn red. I have used pasta jars for displaying wildflowers and dandelion bunches. And oh, to prove I am not completely crazy, the photo at the top of this post shows that small sparkling water bottles make great bud vases!


Good heavens – I am addicted to glass jars and plastic containers!

But I have it under control – believe me, I do! Once a year a take an inventory, and what I can’t use, I throw into the recycle bin. Or I figure a way to use the container in order to justify keeping it on hand.


Yes, there is a method to my madness! That little, itty-bitty pimento container? My dried chives will be a perfect match! The dried mint will look beautiful in my antique spice jars. The sage, (which tasted awesome and smelled divine while roasting in last Thanksgiving’s turkey) will fit perfectly in the gelato container. The cellos – I can now double the recipe for these delicious drinks.

But darn it, I have yet to find something to fill that creamer container.

Oh, Grandma, I miss you! You would be so proud of me, recycling and learning to garden. I wish I had watched you, as you lined up jar after jar of fresh, delicious veggies from your garden and delectable fruit from your trees, carefully canning and preserving each item. I am really sorry that I rolled my eyes; you were ahead of your time in so many ways!

Plus, dang it, I know darn well you’d figure out something I could do with that Cremora bottle…

© Lynne Cobb – 2013

Do you have a hard time parting with items that could one day be useful? Share in the comments below.