21 September 2011

5-S, Step 4

The fourth phase of 5-S, which kind of overlaps step 3, is Standardize.  What does that mean?  It could mean many things, but I think we can all agree that if we standardize, things will be more orderly.

Burt informed me that standardization might mean storing certain types of things in like containers.  I really goofed there.  I was trying to make this project as inexpensive as possible, and took myself to Big Lots to buy every storage container I could get, regardless of its compatibility with other storage containers.

One goal I had was to be able to buy in bulk, store a reasonable amount of what I bought in the kitchen, and store the rest in the basement, as a refill depository.  So if I bought the mombo box of Cheerios at Sams, I would store some of the Cheerios upstairs, and when that supply ran out, I would simply run to the basement and refill the cereal container.  It makes sense.

However, I am regretting my purchases.  Some are glass and round; others are glass and square.  Some have airtight seals, while others don't.  A few are plastic, though I was really trying to steer away from BPA's.  I'm at the point, where BPA's be d***ed, I want everything to work well together.  For instance, I quickly found that storing freezer items, such as whole wheat flour, in a glass container is not very smart.  Frozen glass is not pleasant to grab onto.

My dream standardization line is the Tupperware.  Everything in their storage systems interlocks with everything else, making it easy to standardize the whole set.  For instance, if I had something big stored in a #3, I could also stack on top of the #3 a #1 and a #2.  It adds up, and makes sense.  Burt is really intrigued by this whole concept, and perhaps we can swallow the cost at some point and get rid of the pesky, space-hogging, round containers.  We'll see.

Rubbermaid makes a fantastic container that can be used for cereal and chips.  It is big enough to hold a decent quantity, and you can either pour from it or easily remove the airtight lid.  And the price is more reasonable than Tupperware's.  But Rubbermaid lacks the mathematical beauty of Tupperware's "legos for grownups," as the Tupperware rep. described the system.

Another step to the Standardization was labelling everything.  Burt suggested I buy a label maker a few years ago, and I have never regretted the purchase.  All containers were labelled: chips, cereal, flour, sugar, raisins, you name it.  You would not believe how much easier it is to navigate a cabinet or pantry just by having the containers labelled.  Never mind whether you can see through them and tell what's in them.  The label just makes life so much easier.  I took it one step further and labelled the shelves in the cabinets and pantry with what went onto each shelf.  That way, if it is someone other than me replacing things, ideally, things will return to their proper places.  More on that later.......

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