I’ve got such a conversation today.

People collect things. Collections come and go. I used to have a pig collection. Not real pigs, just things with pigs on them. It was the 80s. I grew out of that one. 

The things I gravitate toward now are usually useful. I am a huge fan of containers. (LINK) I like baskets, bowls, jars, boxes, and tins. I used to have a variety of tins, but I have sorted through most of them and have landed on potato chip tins. 

How does one start collecting such a thing? I’m glad you asked. 

It started innocently enough. Because I loved tins, I tended to look for them at garage sales, estate sales, and antique stores. I found my first one at a garage sale for just a few dollars. I loved the lettering and the colors, and the fact that someone had written “bird seed” on the top of it. You just know this tin had a great history. And I could not let it go unloved.

Have you noticed how when you find a certain thing you tend to see them all over? That’s what happened to me. And believe me when I tell you there are a million different companies and designs! I think at my highest number, I had fifteen.

And then we downsized. I sent a few that weren’t my favorites out into the world for others to love and kept only my very best. I also made a rule for myself that in order to keep any it had to be put to use, giving them a dual purpose and being a good tool for living smaller. I got pretty creative in the ways of potato chip tin use. Here’s what I store in them:

  • Trash (I use one for a trash bin in the bathroom.)
  • Candles
  • A plant (I just popped a planted pot right in.)
  • Electronic supplies (ALL THE CORDS!)
  • Treat bags
  • Felt
  • Blocks
  • Fabric

So let me tell you the five ways a potato chip tin can make anyone’s life awesome:

  1. They can turn you into a discoverer. I know, this seems to go against all that is minimizing. But I just love discovering something of history that I can use today. I love to imagine how they were used after all the chips were eaten up. And I wonder why we don’t have chips in tins today.
  2. They help you find value in cast offs. If I can buy something used instead of something brand new, I feel like I’ve scored a point for the planet. It usually saves me some money, and I feel so resourceful.
  3. They are so dang cute. Who couldn’t use more cuteness in their lives? That’s all I can say about that.
  4. They are handy storage. Really, the ways I use mine is just the tip of the iceberg.
  5. They will bring great conversation into your life. I’ve heard stories of getting tins refilled at the potato chip factory as a child, getting the deposit back on restaurant size tins, and how many different potato chip factories there were in just the Detroit area. 

I share this not to convert you to go out and collect potato chip tins. (Although if you do, please let me know so we can talk about them.) I am hoping to open up your thinking about collections. 

Living a downsized life or minimizing your possessions doesn’t mean you have to get rid of collections. You absolutely should consider moving them along if you are less than happy with them, but keep the things you love if you want them. Just loving them is a good reason to keep them, but if you can use them, too, it’s a double bonus. 

What do you collect? Have you found a way to make them work in your home? Let me know!


  1. I love helping the earth and having things that serve a dual purpose 👏🏼 Your potato chip tin collection is darling — my fav of yours is the one you use as a trash can in the bathroom 😊

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