So, you’re looking around at your stuff: tapes, papers, other various and sundry crap that is very important and needs to be saved for the long term. You’ve spent time creating an inventory and figuring out how many linear feet of stuff you have. When you’re done with all of that work, don’t ruin it all by stacking your items in the corner, on the ground, or by the window that sometimes leaks. Instead, look at investing a bit of cash into boxes or a filing cabinet.
Uses: Buy boxes if you don’t have lots of paper documents, or if you have tapes, CD/DVDs, T-shirts, and other items that need to stored and protected from the ravages of life.
What to Look for: Acid-free: those two words will never steer you wrong. Yes, you could buy some plastic boxes at Target, but over time, as it degrades, your stuff will smell like plastic.
Cost: The larger box pictured above runs $10.42 each; for context, the Container Store sells document boxes (like the smaller version above) for almost twice as much. Honestly, you will have to have to spend money if you want preservation quality supplies. Will you have to buy boxes again? No. As long as you don’t use them for kindling or destroy them, you will be able use them until you’re old and gray.
Uses: Buy a filing cabinet if you have a lot of documents, or a ton of free-floating photographs.
What to Look for: Make sure the cabinet meets or exceeds ANSI/BIFMA standards, which include “stability, durability, and strength.” You’ll also want something that will sit a few inches above the ground. If your business/house floods, you don’t want to lose those papers.
Buy cabinets made of metal, not wood. Because of the chemicals used to seal them, wood cabinets slowly exude gases that can harm your papers.
If you’re not willing to do that just yet, then at least put stuff away in some kind of box of some sort to protect it. We understand if you have to start with baby steps. We'll still love you.