My husband was pitching in with kitchen clean up, tackling the variety of items that had collected in the sink. He paused at one point and said to me “you are the container queen.” He had apparently found my lunch accessories.
It’s true. I have a plethora of small reusable containers that I use to pack my breakfast and lunch food every day. I love them. It’s not just that I want to do my part for the environment by limiting the number of plastic bags that end up in the landfill and won’t decompose until my great-great-great-great-grandchildren are senior citizens. Nor is it because I enjoy hearing my husband grumble about more dirty dishes. Using small boxes and bowls with click-tight tops helps keep my take-with-me meals fresher and avoids things getting mushed. We have all experienced flattened sandwiches, crumby chips and broken cookies and those just make lunch time sad. Not to mention wrapping salads or leftovers in wax paper is just plain unappetizing.
So yes, I’ve accumulated a variety of sizes of food containers. Some are big enough to hold salad, with a side-saddle for dressing, some are tiny enough to hold my daily vitamins. Then there’s the fruit container, the snacks… and you begin to understand why I moved from a lunch bag to a lunch TOTE.
Even though my hubby was giving me some grief at the sink, for my birthday he gifted me a new container system for my lunches from Bentgo. They are the modern, colorful, non-finger-pinching, non-rusted version of the old metal lunch boxes of my youth. I was in our work kitchen rinsing out my new containers when one of our Directors came in, glance my way and said “Oh, you have a Bentgo? Aren’t they great? I love mine!”. Suddenly I was one of the cool kids in the lunch room.
We women love containers. Of all kinds. Decorative baskets, bins, storage tubs, tote bags, fancy boxes – you name it. If it is something we can conveniently put things in, we are happy campers. Speaking of which, there are amazingly nifty and creative storage devices designed for camping… but I digress.
Some R.W.’s take the art of containing to another level. One lovely RW in my life has individual clear shoe boxes for each of her pair of shoes, neatly stacked in her closet so not only are the shoes clean and well cared for, she can quickly see each pair to decide which to wear on any given day. I am envious of her system and hope she never sees my heap-o’ off-season shoes piled in a large bin in my closet. Just not quite the same effect.
Another R.W. in my life uses boxes, bins and all sorts of storage pieces throughout her house – but she takes it to the next level because her labeling is on point. Every container has a label – be it food stuffs in her pantry, or memorabilia in her basement, each item is labeled and either alphabetically or chronologically in order.
Some of us strive to use bins or boxes for items in our life that just can’t be contained. How many of you out there attempted to contain lego’s when your children were young? It just doesn’t work. First, there’s the agonizingly long sorting process, and second,a s soon as the child wants to play with the lego’s they once again get dumped out only to have a few errant pieces run and hide until they can jump out to attack an unprotected adult bare foot. But for the most part, the majority of the “stuff” in our lives can be somehow wrestled into a containment system.
There are systems and holders out there that we don’t even know we “need.” This, ladies and gentlemen, is the key to the success of the mecca that is The Container Store. The store is more than just a big box that sells smaller boxes. It (pun intended) contains a beguiling collection of every form of storage, holder, bin, and organizational tool you could possibly ever need – or didn’t know you needed until you encountered it. Some of my most recent treasures acquired from this R.W. haven include an in-cabinet spice rack that pulls out and lowers down for easy access to multiple levels, an avocado holder to prevent the other half of the avocado from turning brown, and – get this – a container that perfectly holds one serving of carrot sticks and hummus. I mean, how could I, queen of lunch containers, NOT get that?
I know that storing our belongings in handy and attractive containers is more than just an attempt to make our surroundings look tidy. In many ways, for us R.W.’s, it’s about control and attempting to make order out of chaos. In our busy lives, and in this crazy world, it helps to know that we can gather things, put them neatly away and stack them in a corner, closet or cupboard. We can choose to ignore them, or access them as needed.
I wish we could box up all of the horrible things in the world and clamp the tops down tight so they could be hidden away or destroyed (or perhaps sent to Putin’s home). And wouldn’t it be great if we were able to store the good things too – like special moments and feelings — in containers and access them whenever we need a boost? A perfect weather day, the feeling of a hug, the smell of your grandmother’s kitchen, a fabulous day with family or friends…neatly preserved and just waiting for us when we need them. Often when I am in one of my happy places, like standing on a beach with my toes in the water, or pausing by a babbling brook in the woods, or lifting my face to the first warm spring rays of sun, I close my eyes and breathe deep, hoping I can savor the moment and save it for when I’m in a less-than happy place. How nifty would it be to have a container to store it in.
I suppose we can’t ever have that level of control. Even The Container Store doesn’t have solutions for that kind of preservation. So I’ll just be happy with my day to day storage, and take satisfaction in the click of the top coming off my dish of fruit for breakfast and the pop of the seal on my to-go tea mug and pretend that I’m enjoying them at a seaside bistro. It’s amazing what the right container and a little imagination can do.