Free Containers for Sorting Photos!

A shipment of cat food arrived the other day and it made me think of photo organizing. How is that even possible, you ask? Well, to start with, I pretty much think about photo organizing 24 hours a day (yes, I even dream about it!). So I look at just about everything through the lens (haha) of organizing photos.

In this particular instance, though, I was looking at packing materials. We share our home with 10 rescue cats, which means we buy a lot of cat food. In the olden days, we went to our fantastic local pet store to buy food and supplies (and pet the resident cats). This year, however, we have switched to ordering our food online so it can be delivered at the end of our lane. This is super-convenient for us, since we live 45 minutes from town, but it does mean extra packing materials that we wouldn’t otherwise need. (It also means a lot of heavy lifting for our FedEx driver, but we put out snacks and water to soften the exertion!)

Look for packing materials you can repurpose, such as these cardboard trays that come in shipments of canned cat food!

I’m always looking for ways to repurpose items rather than send them to recycling (or – worse – the landfill), so when I saw the little cardboard dividers protecting the cases of canned food, I immediately thought how they would make perfect (and free!) sorting containers for photos and keepsakes! The smaller sizes are the exact width to hold an envelope of photos, and the bigger boxes are great for larger portraits, newspaper clippings, etc.

The smaller trays fit film envelopes perfectly!

I wanted to share this idea with you to demonstrate that organizing photos doesn’t have to be costly or complicated. Yes, you can buy special plastic containers or other items to help with your sorting, with the advantage that they will look nice, be sturdy, and might even be easily stackable. They might protect your photos from dust and other environmental damage until you’re ready to put them in their long-term storage. 

But don’t let the fact that you don’t have the “perfect” sorting containers stop you from getting started! Look around your living space – you’re bound to see a variety of boxes or tubs that could work perfectly and won’t cost you a cent. They could be as humble as a shoe box or as attractive as a decorative container. Just be sure they are as clean as possible, without any edges that might damage your items.

Who knew my handwriting ever looked like that?!

Don’t stop at containers! Think about other materials you might have on hand that could help. I discovered I still had index cards from a paper I wrote in high school! (Did I mention I hate throwing things away?) They’re even still in their own plastic box. I can repurpose these to use as dividers between film rolls, or for signs, note cards, etc. 

Treat yourself (and your photos!) to some beautiful archival storage, like these boxes from Archival Methods.

Then, once everything is sorted, organized, and curated, you can transfer everything to beautiful archival storage, like these gray or black boxes (you can find these particular boxes at Archival Methods). Won’t that be an amazing feeling when you get to that point? Let’s get going!

Published by Amy

Professional Organizer specializing in digital and photo organization. Bassist/singer for prog-rock duo Clatter.

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