5 alternatives to plastic storage bins professional organizers recommend if you want a more eco-friendly home

Functionality aside, transparent boxes aren't the most aesthetic addition to your space, so try these instead

A closet with wicker storage baskets and wire baskets
(Image credit: Getty)

Plastic storage bins are a go-to solution for organizing all those miscellaneous items that need a place to call home, but functionality aside, they're not the most aesthetic addition to your space, nor are they necessarily the most environmental choice. 

While they undoubtedly help you to declutter your home, see-through storage boxes can end up looking like compressed cubes of clutter on your cupboard shelves, and let's be honest, that's not inspiring any of us to stay on top of our organization. 

If it's time to upgrade to some more stylish storage, we've got you covered. Here are six alternatives to plastic storage bins that pair style and functionality, tried and tested by professional organizers themselves. 

1. Woven baskets

three natural woven baskets side by side on a windowsill holding books

(Image credit: Lulu and Georgia)

A timeless classic in the world of storage is the wicker basket. Made of natural fibers such as rattan and seagrass, these woven organizers offer a beautiful organic look that pairs well with virtually any style but works especially well in neutral, minimalist spaces.   

It's worth pointing out that unlike plastic bins, you won't be able to easily see what's inside, especially if you decide to stack baskets on top of one another. To remedy this, professional organizer Kayleen Kelly suggests a clever storage hack. 'Whenever you use opaque storage always use labels so you know what you have and it's not a guessing game,' she says. 'I try to avoid a really chunky weave as it's hard to get clip-on labels to stay on, in which case you have to tie them on instead.' 

Julie Peak, founder of The Precise Place, suggests hyacinth baskets and bins since they come in a range of different styles and sizes, sometimes with patterns woven in. 'Keep in mind that unlike plastic, they're not waterproof and can develop mold and mildew if left damp,' she adds. 

2. Paperboard boxes

You might associate paperboard boxes with home office organization, but there are now plenty of stylish options out there that look great on your cupboard shelves or tucked beneath a bench. There are many out there that are made from 100% recycled materials, too, meaning you'll be doing your bit for the planet. 

'For an aesthetic flair, chose one with leather accents boxes,' suggest Di Ter Avest, an organization expert at Di is Organized. 'The Bigso line at the container store has a sophisticated look and is excellent to use in closets and offices. They come in various sizes and can be used to store ties, belts, hats, purses, and much more.' 

3. Fabric foldable cubes

Shelving with basket storage containers

(Image credit: Alamy)

Fabric bins might not be the first thought that springs to mind, but they make super convenient and stylish organizers. If you're worried about them flopping over and looking untidy, you'll be pleased to hear that many of them have structure to them for a cleaner look. 'Just ensure that the one you choose is constructed with durable materials to maintain its shape,' says Julie. 

While they come in virtually any size and shape, we especially love the versatility of cube storage boxes, a favorite insert for an IKEA KALLAX hack. 'They're a great storage option in closets and especially in kid's playrooms,' says Kayleen. 'They usually have a plastic pouch for a label or you can use clip-on labels. There's also the added advantage that many fold down easily so you can store extras or ones you aren't currently using.' 

4. Bamboo boxes

Bamboo is another beautiful natural fiber often used to make storage containers. They're a great option for closet organization to keep the likes of belts, socks, or accessories container, especially if you're short of drawer space. 'These are very popular now and provide a streamlined look while not taking up too much space,' Kayleen notes. 

You can purchase solid bamboo boxes as well as woven ones, so consider which might work best for you. 'I love the woven bamboo boxes from IKEA that come with a lid,' says Di. 'They're versatile and make a lovely decorative storage for bookshelves, allowing you to keep those items you want to have around within reach but out of sight.'

5. Wire storage bins

A entryway shelf with a black metal wire basket

(Image credit: Getty)

If you're after a more hardwearing option, wire baskets are a practical addition to your shelves. 'These bins are great for organizing kitchen shelves so items don't get lost in the back of the cabinets,' says Di. 'They also elevate any space.' 

We also love them as a bathroom storage option for holding your fresh towels or keeping your cosmetics contained. For a more contemporary look go for black, or choose a distressed effect for a more rustic, cottagecore style. 'When using wire baskets, you might want to add a canvas liner to prevent imprint transfer onto items,' Julie suggests. 

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.