When we moved from Wisconsin to D.C., there were a lot of decluttering/downsizing projects I wanted to complete before the move. A lot. Pretty much everything we owned needed to be looked at and assessed.  In my next two posts, I’ll share two of those projects – dealing with my CD and DVD collections.  In my life, these are two distinct collections that needed to be handled differently, so I wanted to share both projects as two examples of how to organize physical media collections.  Hopefully one of my solutions will work for you next time you’re thinking of downsizing any kind of disc-shaped collection you may have.

The CDs

I use my CDs differently than my DVDs.  In fact, I don’t actually use the physical CDs to listen to music anymore.  Around 8 years back I uploaded all the music I owned a physical copy of onto my computer (using itunes) and now I almost exclusively buy digital copies of new albums and songs.  So for the majority of the past decade, I haven’t used my cds for actual music listening.  They’ve sat on a shelf, or more recently, in a crate, stored away.  You would think I would be ready to be rid of all of those cds completely, but honestly, I wasn’t.  It’s not just that I spent good money on those CDs; there are a lot of memories tied into them from high school and college.  I compromised with my uncluttering self and decided to do away with all of the plastic cases and consolidate the discs into a single large CD binder.  The decision to go with the large black binder was pretty straight forward for me because I knew I only had a few requirements for my storage solution:

  1. I don’t need access to the discs often.
  2. I wanted something that was easy to store away.
  3. I wanted the discs to be protected from dust and dirt.
  4. I wanted all discs to be together, in some sort of order.

Finding a large CD binder is really easy.  The main requirement is knowing what size you need.  I estimated I had around 150 discs to store, so I went with 208 disc binder made by Case Logic.  Here is the actual one I ordered and here is one I just found that has a different ring system inside, and appears to have a nicer cover than the one I own (darn it!).  Nothing is very special about these cases, but they both cover all of my project requirements.   They hold CDs (all of them). They are compact and zip close.  They both allow you to open the binder rings and insert additional storage pages, if you need to.  I wasn’t very concerned with this because I rarely buy new CDs and I thought I would have plenty of extra space in the binder once I got all of my cds in there. (That was almost true)

The Process

Here’s a quick rundown of my organizing process:

  1. Take all of the CDs out of the crate. In any organizing project, the first step is to remove the items from their natural habitat.  It helps gives a new perspective on the items.
  2. Organize the CDs into piles.  I decided to put the discs into the binders in alphabetical order, so I made one pile for each letter of the alphabet.
  3. Starting with the first pile, remove the disc and the cd cover from the plastic case.  On a case by case basis I decided whether or not I wanted to keep the liner notes.  In some cases I kept the entire thing and in others I kept only the front cover, to help me recognize the disc.
  4. Separate the plastic cases from any paper covers.  The paper covers I could recycle myself; the plastic cases I knew I could not recycle in the normal fashion, so for now I put them to the side.
  5. Load up the binder!  I chose to switch to a new page with each letter of the alphabet.  This left few spots empty, which maybe I’ll use in the future if I ever buy another physical CD.

My previous storage solution; CDs sorted into piles; the finished product! (Images clockwise, starting at the top left)


CDRemainsOh and here’s the aftermath of the organizing project.  The pile on the left are all the paper covers and cases and are all recyclable.  The pile on the right is a bunch of hard plastic cases.  After some searching online, I found that the local children’s museum accepted CD cases for one of their hands on exhibits.  I was more than pumped to find out I didn’t just need to trash all of that plastic.  They also accepted things like corks and yarn, which I also needed to deal with before the move.  I’ve never been to this museum, but I imagine kids are bringing home a very fancy piece of junk – I mean recycled art work – at the end of that exhibit.

The End Result

Overall, I’m very happy with this project.  It wasn’t very hard to select a case to use.  It did take me a full afternoon to do the sorting and filling of the binder.  Sitting on the floor for that amount of time might not have been my best decision…  But the end result looks great!  I can find any CD easily and I’ve saved the CD covers that I liked the most.  The binder was easily packed away during our move and now lives in the back of our main closet.  I know where it is, but haven’t found the need to reach for it since arriving in DC.

Reflecting back, I know I wasn’t ready to get rid of the CDs for sentimental reasons.  For now, I am okay with that.  Music played a big part in my life during my teens and early twenties.  I have so many memories of seeing these bands, searching out these albums, and driving around Cleveland listening to this music.  Every once in awhile, I’d like to bring those memories back as I flip through the pages of the binder.  It’s almost like another kind of photo album for me.

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