I can’t say it often enough…decluttering isn’t the way to get organized. You don’t solve clutter by buying more things…and then throwing them out. That’s never more true than in the kitchen. The demand for kitchen organizers, racks, bins and baskets is huge. But there’s a surprising grocery item that is cluttering your kitchen.
The Surprising Grocery Item That’s Cluttering Your Kitchen
Soda, water, and all kinds of bottled drinks require a lot of square footage. As a professional organizer, I’ve been in hundreds of kitchens. I’ve noticed that households that buy bottled drinks have a harder time controlling kitchen clutter than households who do not purchase bottled drinks.
I have low tolerance for carrying heavy things home from the store that are mostly water, and that includes laundry detergent and bottled drinks. If I can get something in a smaller cardboard package and then add my own water at home, I’m saving space in my shopping cart and my pantry.
Bottled drinks are too heavy for most shelves, which is why land on the floor in most homes. Even when the cabinet can hold the weight, drinks are still a mess. The plastic packaging is always hanging partially off, and cardboard cases usually have one can left in the back. Because of all the disheveled packaging, the newest beverages end up on the floor. You’ve heard me say it before:
Early in my thirties, I learned how much sugar was in soda and immediately gave it up. You can find charts like this from Harvard all over the internet, but the short version is that there are 16 teaspoons of sugar in a 20-ounce soda bottle. Sixteen teaspoons! Holy cow! I mean, even if you like really sweet coffee, most of us would stop at two or three teaspoons. But for some reason, we’ll chug down a bottle of soda, no problem. As the article says, drinking beverages with added sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. I read the book called Sugar Crush (affiliate link) after my big surgery, and I was finally able to quit sugar altogether. Sports drinks, coffee-based concoctions, and juices all have enormous amounts of sugar in them.
Sorry, diet or “sugar-free” drinks aren’t the answer, either. Nutritionists have known for a long time that the artificial sweeteners in beverages act much the same way as real sugar does, giving our bodies sugary signals and causing scary metabolic changes leading to obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes.
Drinking water is better for your health, but the environmental cost of all those bottles is just starting to hit home with the effects of climate change becoming daily news. Although recycling can be part of the answer, it’s not really working. Only about 30% of bottles actually end up being recycled. (I’ve seen other stats that say it’s less than 10% that get recycled!) The rest go to landfills or our waterways when they make it out of our cluttered pantries.
The better option is to carry your favorite water bottle everywhere. Assign one or maybe two bottles to each family member. My favorite re-usable water bottle has lasted over 20 years and saved me hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars compared to buying bottled water or other drinks.
For Christmas last year I purchased a Qarbo sparkling water maker and fruit infuser and some interesting flavored syrups from Portland Syrups (affiliate links). Although carbonated water isn’t the same as fancy French mineral water, it’s close enough. When I want something that’s different from water or my sun-brewed tea, a small batch of fresh, fruit-infused sparkling water is a treat.
Bottled Drinks Make Sense Sometimes
There is a place for packaged beverages. I keep a small case of La Croix in my car (current fave: La Croix Hi-Biscus) so I am not tempted to run into a convenience store for a drink, only to end up with chips and chocolate, too! Sadly, one of my clients lives in a town where the water was poisoned from “forever chemicals” at a nearby navy base, so she and everyone in town has to filter or buy water. During Covid, it makes way more sense to serve kids individual drinks at a party or school event than sharing a pitcher of lemonade. When traveling, it’s nearly impossible to get water or any drink that doesn’t come in a bottle! And sometimes you just want a root beer float. Or maybe that’s just me.
If you come for a visit at my house, your beverage choices are going to be “limited” to water, milk, fruit-infused water, unsweetened iced tea, coffee, and wine. I’m not a barbarian, after all. Most of this comes out of the tap, and it fits inside the fridge. This might feel extreme to you, but I promise you that thinking about what you put in your grocery cart can make a huge difference in how organized you feel.
If you are looking at a way to cut clutter in your kitchen, check out that pile of beverages on the floor in the corner. How much space (and money, health issues, and environmental brownie points) could you save by eliminating clutter caused by beverages?
Ready to get your kitchen organized? Order your copy of Organizing Your Kitchen with SORT and Succeed here.