How to make the most of your budget and limited space–while still being green!

From the first week that I moved into my apartment in rural north-eastern Japan, I fell in love with Daiso.  For those of my readers that are from Japan or Korea (or currently living in Japan or Korea), you are probably very familiar with Daiso.  If you are familiar with Daiso, please forgive me while I inform those readers that are not familiar.  

Daiso is a chain 100 yen (or $1 in the U.S. or 1000W) shop that originated in Hiroshima, Japan.  It has spread to thousands of locations worldwide with locations in 25 different countries.  Compared to typical chains of dollar stores in the U.S., Daiso’s products are significantly better quality and usually has really nice patterns and a wide range of goods.  As is typical with a lot of cheaper-priced stores, many of the products are plastic and/or have harsh chemicals in them, but here and there are treasures made just for the green-minded expat.  Below are a few of the things I have found at my local Daiso after moving to my latest place.  

Magnetic Baskets and Sealed Containers

Magnetic storage is perfect for kitchens but also good for other areas of the house if you have metal parts in your office or bathroom.  I am lucky enough that desk that came with my apartment had a magnetic back, but I also use magnetic storage items in my kitchen as well.  I absolutely adore these circular metal containers.  The clear glass lid allows me to look inside; these would be perfect for organizing offices, classrooms, or children’s areas.  If there is no Daiso near you, you can get them on Amazon by clicking here!

I keep all of my beverage accessories in a magnetic basket on my refrigerator, but of course you can use it to hold all sorts of things (maybe pot holders, spice jars, or recipe cards).    

Various Glass Jars and Containers

Of course all green guys and gals know that glass jars are excellent for food storage.  I always make a point to buy food in glass jars when possible and by the end of my stay in a country, I end up with a pretty good collection.  But when should I do to store my food before that point?  A trip to Daiso of course!  Daiso has loads of options for glass jar styles and sizes.  I decided to use the same style in two different sizes because their totally cute colored lids.  I often use the lids to color code food prep for the week.  (Grab them from Amazon here!)


Additionally, Daiso also has several styles of portable glass mugs with lids. I love these because I can take them to coffee shops to get take out without any waste.  Additionally, square and rectangle glass dishes are available in some Daiso locations–with plastic snap on lids.  Not perfectly plastic free, but still a pretty decent reusable product.  I have used glass containers, jars, and mugs from Daiso to get waste free take out when I don’t feel like cooking  (keep an eye out for my article on waste free take out coming soon!)  Get jars and mugs on Amazon too!

Basket Style Desk Organizers (wooden and metal versions)

One of the main problems with tiny Asian living spaces is the lack of space.  To help combat this, I learned to make use of vertical space.  Enter the wonderful wooden and metal baskets.  These are typically used to sort pens and pencils and other boring work items on desks; however, I stand them on one end and use them as mini shelves.  I have two of them: one on my scrap-booking desk organizing my envelopes and tags and one in my bathroom cabinet.

In my bathroom, I have one single cabinet but lots of ‘bathroom-y’ items.  Looks like I need to use another desk organizer!  I use a mesh metal desk organizer in the cabinet in my bathroom.  Metal storage items are better in bathroom areas because wood can absorb the water warp or damage easier.   

Check out the selection of bamboo desk organizers here.

Vertical Organizers (for organizing files on a desk or plates in the kitchen)

This goes along with making the most of vertical space that is typically available.  It my kitchen, I only have a single cupboard (that I can reach….) to house all of my dry cooking items.  To increase my kitchen space, I used two things: an empty box and a wooden plate holder (from Daiso).  Stacking these two things added so much extra space and allowed me to see and organize all of my mixes (because not having them organized causes me anxiety).  Head on back to my tiny bathroom cabinet where I use a metal file desk organizer to sort a lot of my makeup palettes and other slim items. 

What do you think of these tips?  Do you have any inexpensive space savers that you would like to recommend?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *