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Got Boxes?

Updated on June 24, 2011

Hate to throw away a perfectly good box?

Cardboard boxes are a common, but often times over looked commodity that is readily accessible to most of us. I personally cannot stand the idea of throwing away a perfectly good box. My frugal side (as well as the fact that I have moved three times in four years) has caused me to be creative in my use of boxes.

In our household, high quality boxes have been harder to come by since my wife stopped selling Avon. When she was a sales representative for Avon, this gave us a supply of good boxes every couple of weeks. Since she quit Avon, I have noticed myself becoming more selective of the uses and the prospective “sacrifice” of a good box.

Which boxes are worth keeping?

Generally when you are going to keep a box for an intend use, or in anticipation of a future need, their will be a few factors that you will want to keep in mind. Is the box large enough to be useful? Does it have a lid, or flaps that are intact enough to seal it up if needed? Has it been crushed, wet, or other wise mangled? Is it made of heavy enough cardboard? Below are some examples of suitable boxes to be kept for a variety of uses.

  • Copy Paper Boxes: These are generally well built, relatively heavy boxes with lids on them.

  • Appliance Boxes: Generally large appliances are cut out of their boxes. This renders the box unusable for anything other than a piece of padding to be used as something to lay on when your on a garage floor working on a vehicle, or perhaps as a covering to be used similar to a drop cloth. Small appliance boxes IE: dehumidifiers, space heaters etc. may have a variety of uses.

  • Electronics Boxes: They can be used the same as any other box, or they may be kept in order to store/move/sell the original item that came in them.

  • Shoe Boxes

  • Bulk Household Item Boxes: Boxes that held bleach or other products that contained multiple gallon jugs, cases of paper towels, or anything else that may be purchased in bulk.

Before table cloth.
Before table cloth.
Voila' add a table cloth and you have a.. Table!
Voila' add a table cloth and you have a.. Table!

What would you use them for?

Different boxes will be good for different tasks, but below are some ideas. You will have to use your own ingenuity and judgment to select, and modify your box for the particular use that you have in mind.

Here are some ideas:

  • Storage/moving: This is a basic use of spare boxes, and requires little explanation.

  • As a table: Stack several high quality boxes in an interlocking pattern, keeping the “table” as small as possible. Then place an inexpensive table cloth/towel/sheet over it, and voila' a table. See photo.

  • Cut them up into appropriate sized pieces, using them as a shelf (if the frame is already available, and you only need the shelving surface). See photo.

  • Gift Boxes

  • Kids can play with them. We have all seen little ones that are more interested in the box then they are in the toy that they came in.

  • Signs: Yard Sale signs, other for sale signs, a sign for most temporary purposes.

  • Cut the box up for use in crafts.

  • If you have a sale, you can use them as a “shopping bag,” as well as filling the box, and placing a price on the entirety of it's contents.

  • If you have very small puppies or kittens, it can be used as a method to temporarily house/contain them. When it becomes disgustingly soiled, just throw it away.

  • Place a good quality box in the trunk of your car or the back of an SUV and bungee cord it in place. Makes an excellent place to store and organize items to keep them from rolling around, and instantly portable if necessary.

There are a ton of uses for a good cardboard box, these are just a few examples. Use your imagination, and you maybe surprised by what you come up with!

Hints/Tips on how to deal with some of those “other” cardboard boxes:

  • If it ever contained food, especially if it was not individually wrapped, do not reuse it. They're gross, throw them away!

  • You can use mangled boxes, or boxes that contained fruits/veggies as worm compost.

  • If it is a lousy box, cut it up and use it for packing/padding.

  • If a small, relatively useless box is the right size, and looks to be safe, place it in a terrarium as a hiding place for your pet. If it gets gross, throw it out and get a new one.

There is nothing wrong with using everything that we can. The less waste we produce, the better it is for the environment, and our wallets. Don't you wish we celebrated a traditional “boxing day”?


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    • biblicaliving profile image

      biblicaliving 6 years ago from U.S.A.

      Hyphenbird, thanks for your encouraging comment! We try to reuse what we can, but often times we fall short. Thanks!

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      This is a great Hub. We really reuse almost everything at least once. Small boxes can be covered with pretty papers and used to store those messy items such as cotton balls, Q-Tips, etc. I always keep a box just outside the kitchen door (in the garage. As we find an item we no longer want it goes in the box. When full it goes to the local nonprofit thrift store. We have cleared out so much this way.

      So many people have great suggestions in these comments. I will try some of them.

    • jm72writes profile image

      jm72writes 6 years ago from Missouri

      Good ideas. I also like to use boxes that come with lids for Christmas gifts. I wrap them and their lids and reuse them every year.

    • biblicaliving profile image

      biblicaliving 6 years ago from U.S.A.

      Willstar- My parents keep some huge pieces of cardboard in their garage. It's what we lay on when we change the oil, and other wise have to crawl around under a vehicle. Thanks, -Biblicaliving

    • biblicaliving profile image

      biblicaliving 6 years ago from U.S.A.

      Julip Manor-Between being a tight wad, enjoy the whole "improvise and overcome" thing, and since we will probably have to move AGAIN eventually, I try to save as many of our good boxes as I can. Sometimes though I can't take the clutter in the garage, and we will go on a cleaning spree. Thanks for your comment!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I break down and save large boxes like appliance boxes, because they are perfect for covering a table so I can spray paint various items.

    • Julip Manor profile image

      Julip Manor 6 years ago from Kingwood, Texas

      This makes you think.....but I tried saving my plastic containers and just ended up with a huge tangled mess. I finally got overwhelmed and felt guilty throwing them away! Still I agree that we need to reduce our waste and footprints! It is something to ponder....