6 Eggcellent Uses For Egg Cartons

Egg cartons are usually made from corrugated cardboard or polystyrene foam. While they are recyclable, their shape makes them perfect for cool reuse projects. Photo: Flickr/themonnie

Fun fact: In 1911, the egg carton was invented by Joseph Coyle in British Columbia in an attempt to solve a dispute between a farmer and a hotel owner who kept blaming one another when the farmer’s eggs often arrived broken.

Organic, free-range or conventional, egg cartons are not always easily recyclable. They are produced out of a variety of materials, including recycled paper and molded pulp, clear plastic and expanded polystyrene foam.

So, if you’re in the habit of stockpiling your egg cartons without a good way to responsibly dispose of them, you’re in luck. (And if you don’t, you might want to start!) These containers have a ton of reuse options, most of which are extremely simple to execute.

Makeshift piggy bank – Use an egg carton to store that pesky small change that doesn’t fit in your wallet. The coins can be separated by numerical value and are easy to sort, see and reclaim.

Plant containers or seed starters – Poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage and fill to about three-quarters capacity with potting soil. Plant seeds and set in a sunny window. Cut each cup from the tray and plant after seedlings sprout. This is a great project for kids.

Shipping material – If you plan to mail something fragile, simply cut up a few polystyrene egg cartons (made of the same material as foam peanuts!) to make lightweight packing material to protect the contents.

Desk and jewelry organizer – Remove the top of the egg carton and paint or cover with fabric. Presto! It can now be used to store rings, earrings, chains, cuff links and other such items. You can also store it inside a drawer to hold paper clips, eraser stubs, rubber bands and push pins.

Storage helping hand – Egg cartons are great for holding small pieces of jewelry, spools of thread and sewing needles (weave through the inside top cover for safety reasons) while traveling. Hold the container together with a large rubber band so it won’t open in your suitcase.

An avid golf player? Sort your extra balls by brand, store and stack neatly in egg cartons.

To keep track of Christmas decorations, line the cups of an egg carton with cotton, foam or tissue paper and use to store tree bulbs and ornaments. An egg carton is also very useful for game and toy storage. Never lose those doll shoes, game pieces, dice and Legos ever again!

For artsy, crafty types – Craft-oriented people can utilize an egg carton to compartmentalize beads of various sizes and colors. You can also use it to store pastels, charcoal and colored chalk. A carton made of polystyrene works great as an artist’s palette, giving you the ability to separate shades of watercolor and acrylic paints. Detach the top and use it for mixing.

Plus, check out this and these awesome art projects made from the cartons to spark your creativity.

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Feature image courtesy of tanja van den berg-niggendijker

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  1. These are some great ideas for using egg cartons. My husband uses empty egg cartons in the classroom to have students sort rock types for a geology lab. They make good rock storage too!

  2. Hello Chloe,

    Actually I have a stockpile of egg cartons. The planting idea is a good one. I never would have thought to use the cardboard cartons for planting. I don’t think I would use the styrofoam ones though. My kids have taken the cartons and cut them in half and painted them yellow to create a caterpiller. Then you insert pipecleaners in the top to give them antenna Thanks for sharing these good egg carton ideas.

  3. i use a lot of egg cartons for kids crafts but I learned about the best use this weekend from long time Girl Scout “Coyote” Carol. Collect old used candles and crayon bits. Melt them down in a makeshift double boiler. Use a foil pan to hold the wax on top of a slightly larger pot of boiling water. While the wax is melting loosely fill egg carton with shredded paper. When it is melted pour it over the paper shreds into the egg carton filling each cup. Gently poke the shreds in with the wax. Let cool.

    Next time you grill outdoors break off 2 cups of the wax and paper. Nestle these in amongst the briquets. Light the wax cups. An efficient fire starting process!

  4. My mother has a neighbor who sells her chickens eggs. She is always looking for egg cartons to put her eggs into. So all of my usable egg cartons go to her neighbor.

    In a larger city maybe check with people at a farmers market, or a co-op to see if anyone knows someone selling homegrown eggs. I bet they would love some free egg cartons to reuse.

  5. I save my cartons for my uncle who sells a modest amount of eggs from his Real Free-range chickens. I only buy cartons that are made from paper (polystyrene is pretty much impossible to recycle in my community) The cartons I buy always say ‘cage-free’ but I recently found out that all that means is exactly that..The chickens are still living in stiffling conditions, standing in feces, etc.!

    I see a recycling code on some polystyrene trays like what ground beef is sold on, Is that recycable? That is different from styofoam in which your electronics/sm appliances come packaged in? I’ve heard it takes about 90 yrs for styrofoam to degrade, is that true? If so, I needs to be outlawed.


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