no new containers! {enough, day 2}

Okay, so my original plan was to ease oh-so-gently into this Enough Experiment so as to not scare anyone away. Yesterday we simply cast a vision of what our homes would look like de-cluttered and the beautiful things we could do/be because of it.

And today, on mere Day 2, we’re going HARDCORE.

(Not really. Well, a little.)

I’m about to say something more than a little controversial, more than a little offensive, more than a little off-color. Ready?


Not cute baskets lined with fabric, not trendy metal bins, not plastic boxes with snappy lids, not antique wooden crates. NONE OF IT.

You have enough.

Friends, do you realize the conspiracy that’s taking place right under your nose? Do you recognize the sneaky little bedfellows of Container Stores and All-the-Other-Stores and their ploy to bring you to your demise?? Do you see how they draw you in with their irresistible and symmetrical, yet bright and colorful, container-thingies and then BAM!

Before you know it, not only is your house NOT more organized but it is OVERFLOWING with stuff and there’s nothing to be done but BUY A BIGGER HOUSE.

(That was the controversial part.)

Enter Gentle Marla for a minute. Friends, the size of your home is not up for scrutiny or condemnation here. How big your house is or what kind of car you drive or how expensive your new Mac Book Air was (cough) or how many globes you have (cough again) or how full your closet is or WHATEVER is between you and God, and none of us are in a place to judge. God calls us to different things for different reasons.

The comparison game gets us nowhere.

And besides, we all loooove to compare ourselves to those who have more, not the people who have less. Funny how that always works out in our favor, eh?


That said, I do see a vicious, overwhelming, expensive, un-freeing cycle happening in our society as a whole.

1. We accumulate stuff.
2. It overwhelms us.
3. We feel the need to contain it. (prettily if at all possible)
4. We get more stuff.
5. We need more containers.
6. We need more shelves.
7. We need more rooms.
8. We need a bigger house.
9. Our big house looks empty, so we get more stuff.
10. And more containers…

It’s one of those crazy laws of nature. We have empty space. We need to fill it.

So, how about we find away around the law? How about instead of more containers, we actually decide we’re going to have less? (and less and less) Then, instead of buying stuff to fill our empty containers, we’ll think twice before we buy something. And if we really do want it, we’ll get rid of something else first to make space in our delightfully-limited container space.

Doesn’t this sound inviting? (feel free to say no)

Today’s Baby Step Challenge:
Somewhere in your house, find a container you don’t love (a cardboard box, a plastic box with a crack in it, whatever), and find a way to purge enough stuff so that you can throw out that container.

Today’s Little-Bit-Bigger Challenge:
The Baby Step Challenge TIMES TWO. And fill those two containers you emptied with items you can donate/sell.

Today’s BIG DADDY Challenge: (I just added this one on a whim.)
Get rid of an ENTIRE CONTAINER HOLDER-TYPE DEAL you don’t really love (dresser, bookcase, toybox). (WOW.)

(If you are a lover of pretty containers, maybe you could treat yourself to 1-2 new ones after a whole month of ruthless de-cluttering.)

Now, just like yesterday, I’d love to hear from you.

Tell me what you did (or plan to do). Tell me your vision (if you didn’t get a chance yesterday). Ask me questions (related to de-cluttering). Or tell me that you don’t want to be my friend anymore after today’s post (and I will do my best to win back your heart).

32 thoughts on “no new containers! {enough, day 2}

  1. Wendy

    I just found your blog today, and I think you’re on day 5. Catching up here, but this is where my head is at! I just had a yard sale last weekend with some friends, and the $100 I made feel better than the boxes of stuff I piled up to sell!
    I’m a homeschooler that was a public school teacher in my former life. As a result, for years I attempted to re-create a typical classroom in my home, which just isn’t necessary when schooling 4 kiddos! And, by the time you get one kid up to jr. high, you pretty much know what you’re going to use and what you don’t…I boxed up so many wonderful books and resources that I NEVER USE, that I was able to actually get rid of two whole shelf/cupboard units! It feels so great to not have our schoolroom crammed!
    Thanks to your blog, I’m going to continue on to the rest of the house…thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      I’m a homeschooler (more un-schooler) that was a public school teacher in my former life too. 🙂 And I had boxes and boxes of stuff from school FOREVER before I let it go. So so so freeing! Now we do pretty much everything with iPods, a computer, and library books. 🙂

  2. Amy J. Bennett

    I’m not much of a container person so I didn’t really stick to the challenge this day but I cleaned out our pantry of old food, probably a half a big garbage bag full (sad, really).

  3. Gloria

    Even the baby step projects are challenging me! Hopefully as the days go by I’ll get more adventurous. But, day 2 baby step completed! It’s funny how the simple act of reading your blog is making me more inclined to actually take action. Yay for the Enough Experiment! 🙂

  4. Allison

    George Carlin has a sketch about houses being containers to hold Your Stuff. It’s pretty funny (if you like Carlin).

    I knew I was making serious headway with my purging when I started to have empty containers and storage bins collecting in my basement, instead of them being reused as I shifted stuff around.

    Today I put a bookshelf out by the curb that has been living in the boys’ room. I haven’t loved it in a long time. You inspired me to boot it to the curb!

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      1. Watched the sketch! So funny–and true!
      2. Did you find someone to take your containers off your hands?? Wooohooo!!
      3. In my former life, I would’ve nabbed your bookshelf as soon as it hit the curb. 🙂
      4. Way to go!! You’re an inspiration!!

      1. Allison

        Yes I did! I was so happy when she came to pick them up. I’ve since accumulated even more, though most of them are smaller and/or cardboard that can be recycled.

        And I know what you mean about nabbing bookshelves. We nabbed a couple that you had put on the curb.. though I think we only have one left right now 🙂

  5. Teresa Henry

    Okay…I am the queen of containers when there is a pile….a container usually ends up holding whatever it is that is in that pile. And then I don’t even know what is in the containers years later…because that is how long that stuff sits there! I really do hate most of my containers now that I think of it! I do have some needed ones that hold my grains/beans in my cupboard (since I do eat 98% plant based…except my creamer in my coffee…confession time). After work I went out to my shelf in my garage that holds my excess cans of veggies/tomatoes that won’t fit in my cupboard (oops excess) and there was a box on the bottom shelf that maybe was there for years, yes years….that I throw out all of the contents and the burned the container in my fire pit. I am going to do more I promise…I just got off work and did not want to miss out on the challenge! Thank you Marla. I am so excited to get rid of stuff, donate stuff, and make room for me to breathe.

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      I love everything about this comment. Including the coffee creamer. I cook all plant-based (but we cheat fairly often when we’re out and about w/people), but I can’t give up my coffee creamer! (I justify it by buying a fairly natural, lactose-free kind. Whatever! Still cheating!)

  6. cyndee

    Was barely in my house today but still managed to get rid of two containers! Hubs and I decided to be healthier (I’m eating peanut m&ms at the airport as I write so I might be a little uncommitted) so we decided to switch to glass containers instead of plastic for storing and reheating food. Today I packed my lunch in plastic containers and tossed them in the trash when I was done! Go me! 🙂

  7. Kim

    Emptied a bag and a box of books that have been sitting in my living room for 3 weeks(the box) and 3 months (the bag)! My how time flies when you ignore something! I listed 21 books on Amazon and they’re shelved in my office with my inventory. The bag I’ve started filling with books for the second hand bookshop. We get credit that my husband uses to get books on CD since he drives 600-900 miles a week for work. I am also putting all the books on CD, that he’s finished with, in the bag so they will out of here.

    We are having a yard sale the end of the month because my son wants to go to Young Life camp in July and $625 is not in the budget. I have 3 bags of stuff I’ve pulled together so far for that. Off to go through 2 more bags of books!

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      1. I love the idea of trading in books you don’t need and getting something practical (the books on CD) and then getting rid of those too!

      2. I hope you get all the $ your son needs for camp!

  8. Joy

    I love getting rid of unnecessary containers. Last month I decided that I don’t bake enough to need canisters on the counter. I transferred all the flours and sugars to Tupperware that will hold the entire bag and wow, I love having clear spaces on my counter! I also decided that I really don’t have to keep the coffee mugs that came with my plates. I don’t ever use them so why keep them! Freedom!!
    I finally, after 4 years of marriage, 🙂 convinced my husband to give away his fleece sweatshirts. He doesn’t wear them but he got them at Urbana and places like that. He is emotionally attached to things so grace and patience is a big part of purging in our home. Passed on the empty totes to the neighbor, she was in the middle of organizing her apartment before she gets married and moves out. I keep eying my husband’s college textbooks. 🙂 Maybe when we buy a house?

    1. Marla Taviano

      I used to have my kitchen counters lined with not only appliances and canisters but all manner of decor! What in the world?!? A few years ago, I cleared off the counters completely, and BLISS. Now we have a teensy bit of counter space, and it’s too precious to keep things on. Woohoo for getting rid of unwanted coffee mugs and fleeces!

  9. Melissa

    I am constantly purging, and if we didn’t have new little ones in our home all the time, a lot more would be gone. Just this week I sold 6 things on a selling site and took two boxed of clothes to Goodwill. Every few weeks I get this “MY life is too cluttered feeling! ” and I purge. I am amazed that our house is still packed with things somehow! I think the more you get rid of, the more you realize how much to actually have! I have buyers remorse often, but never once have I had purgers remorse! I love the feeling and pray I continue to see things in my house that I have less “need” for. The kids even got a box together of things this week they don’t play with as much any more…kid’s things are my biggest clutter! They have way more than they need…as do I

    1. Marla Taviano

      I had purger’s remorse twice (but I got over it). You’re so right–the more we get rid of, the more we realize we have. Until we start de-cluttering, we just take it for granted. Excited for you!!

  10. Lisa Basner

    This one hits a sore spot. I LOVE pretty little containers, or jars to put things in. But that’s the point – I put things in them. Stuff that I don’t need, want or even like!! So, I will accept the challenge! I’ve started in my kitchen and weeded out quite a bit, including a coffee can that had items I no longer use, and a basket that I used to like, but now it’s just taking up space – and I more that filled both items. Now I’m headed to the kids’ rooms to purge – with them helping, of course. I don’t want to encourage hoarding as a result of my purging their stuff without their permission, so we always do this together. I often find myself frustrated because I can see the bigger picture, and I know what they truly use and don’t use, but they have to own this thing for it to work. Baby steps!

      1. Lisa Basner

        The kids did AMAZING!!! I am SO proud of both of them!!! They are pretty excited for us to have a yard sale soon, so they can make some money! 🙂

  11. Brooke

    i’ve been a big, fat, whiny cry-baby these past couple days (no, not because of your challenges) so i’ve avoided all things commitment – including purging. hoping i can catch back up this weekend.

    i’m not a container kinda girl, but i do have a few in the house. i think i know of one i can toss, but its just the size of a stack of books. its supposed to be my “currently reading” bin, but i’m sure you’ve guessed that its now too full to be used for that purpose.

    1. Marla Taviano

      You don’t have to purge a “real” container. What about a cardboard box full of stuff you don’t need? (I know, that sweet hubby makes this a challenge.) xoxoxo

      p.s. From one whiny cry-baby to another, HUGS!

  12. Jill Foley

    I remember a couple years ago when I realized my biggest clutter problem was the clutter organizers themselves! I had become a pro at organizing all my junk in pretty little containers.

    Just yesterday, I pulled 3 baskets off the top of my kitchen cabinets because I wanted to see what it would be like with completely bare space up there. It looked empty at first, but I think in a couple days I’ll really like it.

    I love all the different sized steps you are giving us!

    1. Marla Taviano

      Believe it or not, I used to be a fill-every-inch-of-space girl. My walls were collages, every single inch of flat space was filled, and my closets were jam-packed. It took me awhile to become a minimalist (and I’m still working on it), but I can’t believe I lived so long with so much stuff.

  13. Bethany

    I recently reorganized my entire kitchen and I did buy 4 cute fabric lined baskets and I feel they really stream-lined the look of my black wire shelf BUT they replace 4 old mismatched random containers (one was even on the floor) so I don’t feel bad. A couple of them are bigger and can now hold all of that item in ONE spot instead of in 3 different ones in the kitchen.

    I personally think it is okay if you are REPLACING another container so that it’s prettier to look at. OR I recently went through my sewing fabric which was in 3 different baskets and one bin and put it all in ONE new bin that was bigger and sits on my closet floor.

    Today’s task will be a hard one for me, but I think it’s a great idea. We’ll see what I can come up with…It kind of goes with my smaller house philosophy–you can’t keep it if you don’t have space (or a container) for it. I’m excited to hear success stories at the end of this month!

  14. Beth

    Such a helpful post, Marla! It’s true, organizing all the junk you don’t need in cute boxes isn’t always helpful if you don’t need the junk in them to begin with. One of the easiest places to start if you are having trouble getting momentum going is with seasonal decorations. You use them for like a month out of the year, if that. I didn’t have the time or energy to do much Christmas decorating this year, and when I did get my one box of stuff out, I realized I don’t need 3/4 of it. Or maybe all of it, but, baby steps.

    I’ve also tried a lot of the “do you really use it?” tricks out there, and they worked for me! Try turning all your books page-side out, and only put them back to spine-side out when you’ve read them. Turn all your DVDs backward and only put them back spine-out when you’ve watched them. Turn all your hangers backward on the rod and put them back the right way when you’ve worn something. You find out after a couple months what you really read/watch/wear, and what you very likely wouldn’t miss.

    I tell you, I am much happier being able to slide the hangers in my closet freely with 1/3 as many clothes as I was when I had way more clothes jammed in there and couldn’t even see them all.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I’ll be doing a whole post on seasonal decorations. (My own philosophy is way extreme, but I think most/all of us have more than we really need/use/love.)

      And I LOVE that turn-things-around trick! Holy cow brilliant!

      And YES to the freely-sliding hangers! Freedom!!

  15. Rachelle

    Woa! Do you have spy cams in my house? Before reading this post at like 3p I took the container that housed diapers and emptied it of the 30 some remaining (no longer needed cause we are a potty trained house! Whooo hooo!) into a Kroger bag to give away. Then took the ratty cardboard box the girls’ costumes were in and pitched it. The costumes went into the cute pink decorative box that used to hold the diapers. Diaper free and de cluttering! Keep up the great ideas!

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