By Barry Tabor
A staggering amount of cardboard is thrown away after Christmas. While we’d wholeheartedly encourage you to recycle your paper and cardboard packaging, it’s best to try reuse first. We’ve pulled together some ideas on how to reuse cardboard boxes.
This might be an obvious one, but there are many creative ways you can use cardboard boxes for storage. We’ve gathered a few together:
Plain ol’ storage boxes. This tip isn’t exciting, but it’s certainly useful. Cardboard boxes of all sizes can store bags, Christmas decorations, cleaning equipment, shoes, old photos … the list goes on! You can even store your recycling in a cardboard box, which can itself be recycled when it gets too worn down.
Decorated. If you’re using boxes to organize your cupboards, they’re out of sight, so it doesn’t matter if they look a bit boring. If, however, you want a more out-in-the-open storage container, you can easily decorate a cardboard box. For instance, you can line and cover with material — just use a glue gun or stapler to fix the fabric in place.
Wall storage folders. We love these wall storage folders that are made from old cardboard packaging. It’s a great way to store your mail by the door, or the documents you have spread all over your desk.
Cardboard boxes aren’t just useful around your house, but also around your garden. If you’re a green thumb, there are many ways you could be upcycling your boxes. Here are a couple of ideas to get you thinking.
Planters. Rather than buying plant pots, you can reuse a cardboard box. Not only is this a useful way to get rid of them, it also saves you money. Simply line the box with an aerated bag, fill with soil and sow your seeds.
Seed labels. Once you’ve planted your seedlings in repurposed cardboard boxes, you’ll need to label them so you don’t get mixed up. It’s incredibly easy to cut strips with a pointed end out of corrugated cardboard. Just write your label and stick it into the soil. We’d recommend only doing this in your greenhouse or inside, as the cardboard will disintegrate if it’s in the rain!
If you’re less of a green thumb and more of a crafter, then you can use cardboard boxes in your creative endeavors. You’ll probably be able to come up with loads yourself, but we’ve got a few to get you started.
Coasters. You could simply cut out a cardboard square to protect your tabletop from heat damage and tea rings, but if you want something prettier, you can wrap a circle of cardboard with decorative material, keeping it in place with glue, staples or stitches. It’s a quick craft to master but creates effective and pleasing coasters. If you want your coasters to last even longer, layer up a couple of card rings before covering them.
Notebooks. Make your own notebooks using cardboard as a cover. You’ll need paper (if it’s recycled paper, all the better!), a needle, thread and glue. Sew the folded paper together into leaves and then glue these leaves together. Cut out a cardboard cover and glue to the spine of your paper. You could decorate it further if you want, or give it to a friend as a gift.
Children and Pets
If you’re a parent or a pet owner, you’re bound to have discovered the mutual love that both children and pets have for cardboard boxes. There are few things as simple that can please as easily! While handing your child a plain cardboard box is likely to entertain them for hours, we’ve got a few more creative ideas about how you can repurpose boxes for your children or pets.
Forts. Is there a child alive who doesn’t appreciate a fort? If you have a large number of cardboard boxes, this is a fantastic way to use them. You can create tunnels, cut out windows, build towers and more. The great thing about cardboard is that you can also draw or paint all over it.
Along a similar line, pets love to have their own hideaways and mazes. If you have small animals, such as rabbits or guinea pigs, you can make mazes, dens and play areas out of cardboard boxes. Not only will this entertain your pets, it’ll also entertain your children! They can get involved making forts for their pets.
Dollhouses. Rather than making forts for your children to play in, if you only have one or two boxes, you can make dollhouses. Fill them with pre-bought furniture or get out the modeling clay and make some yourself. If you have the vision, you could make whole mansions out of cardboard boxes!
Insulation. Cardboard is known for being a fantastic insulator. In the winter seasons, outdoor pets, such as rabbits, often benefit from extra warmth. Add a layer of two of cardboard to the bottom of their hutch for insulation benefits. You could also do the same with your dog’s kennel.
Cardboard is a fantastically versatile material. Don’t recycle your boxes immediately; upcycle and reuse them first, which is even more environmentally friendly. We would love to hear your thoughts on these ideas, as well as all the ways you reuse boxes in your home.
About the Author
Barry Tabor is passionate about caring for the environment, particularly by optimizing his business’s processes and encouraging people to reuse and repurpose cardboard boxes. He works for box-making machine company, BCS, which provides short- and medium-run box-making machines to businesses and box plants.