Every moving process requires a lot of bags, covers, and similar protective items that help you relocate your belongings. Cardboard boxes are the most popular packaging option, but what to do with dozens of them when it is all done?
Depending on the area where you live, some options are donating them, recycling, giving them back to the moving company, selling them to anyone who needs them, keeping them for future use, or using them for any DIY project. You can even leave the boxes outside for someone in need to take them.
My wife and I have moved six times since I came to the USA 30 years ago. She loves reading, and she has accumulated many books over the years. As a result, every time we move, we use many boxes to carry those books and everything else.
You may think I am exaggerating. What are we talking about, 5 or 10 extra boxes to carry those books? Not really! Take a look at the picture on the right to get an idea of how many books there are.
But that’s not all; on the other side of the basement, we have boxes we used to carry many other household items.
This is a good moment for me to start thinking of ideas of what to do with these boxes.
Keep Your Boxes
Don’t get too excited about getting rid of all your boxes. After all, you paid for them and chances are you will need some of them for yourself.
I have learned from my many moves that we keep a lot of stuff we don’t use immediately, and cardboard boxes are handy to keep things organized.
If you are lucky to have a basement, attic, or space in your garage, you can organize most of your items in boxes since you are not likely to have closets or shelves there. Even if you decide to rent a storage unit, you can use some of your leftover boxes.
Boxes can be used for tools, old clothes or blankets, dishes, or small appliances, even some memories like old toys or items that have sentimental value.
Those boxes should be used in dry areas, as cardboard does not react well to moisture. If the boxes get wet, it may ruin the items within. As convenient as it may seem, never store valuable or moisture-sensitive items in boxes out of sight for a long time.
For DIY Projects
DIY projects can be fun and exciting. Besides, by doing something yourself, instead of purchasing, you are saving money. The most obvious usage is gift-wrapping. Creative homeowners can paint the boxes before using them for gift-wrapping.
Some people use them in gardens too, for weed removal.
Also, boxes are great for protecting walls, floors, or furniture when painting or doing any construction or maintenance work around the house.
Disassembled boxes are great to be used as furniture sliders, so you can use them to move furniture on hardwood floors.
To Make Toys
The toys that I remember the most are the ones my friends and I made ourselves.
If you have children, you can make a play-house together, or even a pet’s house if you have them. They could also use the boxes for school-projects.
Children can play with them, draw pictures on the sides, and get very creative. You can cut boxes in pieces, and make all kind of art-work. If you are very handy, you can make doll-houses, racetracks, and similar. It is a great way to make memories with your kids.
Pet owners, especially cat owners, know how excited those furry creatures become when they see a box. You can even connect a few boxes, make tunnels, and multiple floors and entrances for a pet to play. It is also an excellent hiding area for the animal for quiet time.
There are endless options, and you can also experience some funny moments and enjoy while watching others play.
These are 20 easy cardboard crafts you can create. You can easily use some of these examples to make your own original creations.
For Future Use
You may not have an immediate use for them right now, but you know that you will wish you had a box for something important sooner or later.
If you have enough room in your house or have an empty basement, garage, or attic, store some of the boxes. You never know when you will need them. If you move a lot for work, or any other reason, keep the boxes for the next move. Maybe one of your friends or family will need them.
Before storing them, disassemble the boxes to save space and wrap them in plastic covers or bags to protect them from moisture and dust. Boxes stored like that can last for years.
Get Rid of Your Boxes
OK, you are up to your eyeballs with boxes, and you need to find a way to get rid of them. As if you didn’t have things to do before moving into your new house. Let’s go over some options.
Give Them to Your Movers
You paid your movers quite a lot of money to move your items. You may have even given them a tip, so they may be happy to dispose of your boxes for you properly.
Some moving companies will take the unused boxes, or even buy them back from you. Homeowners usually buy a few too many, to have them ready just in case.
Most movers may not discard the boxes for you, but they can give you valuable advice on how to get rid of the boxes. They answer that question every day and most certainly have more experience than anyone else.
Maybe they even know a good option in your area, that is not available elsewhere. Perhaps they know that the next person using their services needs boxes, so you can even use movers to connect you with a person in need.
The best thing about returning the boxes to movers is that they will take them on the spot, and you will not have to disassemble them and carry them anywhere.
They may also not want to talk to you after they get paid. Not to worry, you have several other options.
Sell the Boxes
I you can’t keep all your boxes, I think selling them is the second best option if you have the time.
Not because you will make some money, which you will, but because you are almost guaranteed that your boxes will be used one more time before they are recycled or trashed. A win-win situation.
Cardboard boxes, both used and unused, are in high demand, especially during the moving season. There are a few different ways to find a buyer. This is a list of places where you can sell your boxes:
- Craiglist: It’s a well-known place not only to post boxes for sale but also to give away.
- Box Cycle: BoxCycle is a marketplace that connects people and businesses who want to sell/buy boxes.
- U-Haul Exchange: U-Haul has a program that allows its customers to get together and sell boxes to each other.
- Freecycle: This nonprofit organization describes itself as a “movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods.”
- Nextdoor: Nextdoor is a neighborhood hub where verified neighbors can exchange information, goods, and services.
If none of these places work, you can always list your boxes on social media and ask your friends to share the post. Asking around the neighborhood can also be productive. Someone could get your boxes for a bargain.
You will not make a fortune, but it is better than nothing especially when you know your boxes will be reused.
If selling doesn’t work, you can donate them.
Donate the Boxes
Cardboard boxes have a very low monetary value for an average person, but some people would be more than happy to get them.
Try contacting a local charity service, soup-kitchen or red cross, and ask them if they need the boxes. They get a lot of donations that have to be packed and even transported, so boxes are valuable to these organizations.
Some charities help low-income residents in the area, so they may take the boxes and give it to them. And while you are there, you can also donate some things you are not using in your new home.
You can find information about charities online, or even join a local online support group where you can find out who may be in need of used boxes.
Give the Boxes to Your Friends and Family
When you unpack, call a few friends and family members. You never know if they need cardboard boxes. Ask them if they know a person who could use them.
As you can see, many things can be done with boxes, and maybe someone needs them for a gardening project. It is even better if you know a person planning to move shortly. You can give them the boxes and share your first-hand experience to help them.
Just like selling, this option is great for the environment. The boxes will be used two or more times, and when they become unusable, the last person can get them recycled. It is both money-saving and environmentally friendly.
Leave the Boxes Outside
You could choose to go the lazy way. It may sound like you are going to make the boxes someone else’s problem, but that is not entirely true.
Boxes are items that are always necessary to someone, not just for moving. And they can be quite expensive too. If you leave them on the curb, people passing by will know that you don’t want them anymore, and they may take the boxes.
Leave them outside and look every once in a while. If someone takes them, that’s great! But if not, you will have to take them back and think of another way to get rid of them.
Leaving them outside for days is irresponsible, and may even offend the neighbors. You most certainly don’t want your neighbors to dislike you as soon as you moved in.
Recycle the Boxes
If you are having a hard time selling or donating them, you can recycle them. Cardboard boxes are one of the most straightforward items to recycle. These are some of the ways to recycle boxes:
- Put on your recycling bin: If you have this option in your neighborhood, you can put your boxes in your recycling bin. Depending on how many boxes you have, you may have to do this for several weeks until all the boxes are gone.
- Take it to a container for paper disposal: if you have one of those near you, take advantage of it.
- Take them to a recycling center: Take the boxes to the nearest recycling center. Your city should have a recycling center near you.
I think the options listed above would be considered responsible. Reusing cardboard boxes is very responsible, and everything except just throwing them in the nearest dumpster is acceptable.