Got a load of cardboard boxes lying around the house? Of course, you can recycle cardboard, so there’s no need to put them in the trash. But before you put them in the recycling, consider the many ways you can upcycle cardboard boxes and give them a new lease on life.
With online shopping more popular than ever before, the average household accumulates a lot of cardboard packaging. The good news is, there are plenty of creative ways to put leftover boxes to good use. You may even save some cash by getting crafty at home instead of buying new household items. Plus, you could save as many as 24 trees for every ton of cardboard you reuse, upcycle, or recycle.
Packaging retailer RAJA explored a variety of uses for upcycled cardboard boxes, from decluttering your home to entertaining the kids. They also looked into the cost of creating something new from the packaging versus buying a brand-new, store-bought item. Here are a few examples of what you could make at home by upcycling cardboard boxes.
Use them as office storage
Though this is obvious, you’d be surprised how many people spend good money on storage boxes when they already have perfectly good ones sitting at home. If you’re concerned about a cardboard box fitting in with your décor, simply decorate it with some basic craft materials. You could paint it another color, cover it with attractive paper, or embellish it with rope or shells. Left as it is, you have a free storage container. If you choose to upcycle it, it could cost just $6.30 (if you don’t already own the craft materials) to turn your cardboard box into attractive office storage. This compares with an average cost of $7.82 to buy a new storage box from a store.
Use them for home teaching
If you have a bigger box available, you could turn it into a makeshift chalkboard. This is a particularly good idea if you’ve been home-schooling your children, or for when you’re giving them a helping hand with homework. Either cut one side of the cardboard box off to hang on the wall or keep the adjacent sides on to stand it up, then paint your chosen section with chalkboard paint (you might need a couple of coats). Once it’s dry, get some chalk and you’re set to start writing and drawing on the board as you please! A damp cloth should do the trick to erase the chalk when finished. And the best thing about it? A store-bought chalkboard costs an average of $50.43, but you can make your own for just $17.34.
Turn them into plant pots
Do you have a green thumb? You could save some serious cash on your gardening by swapping store-bought planters for cardboard ones at a fraction of the price. All you need to do is reinforce the bottom and corners of the box with some duct tape, fold and tape the flaps down, line it with a plastic bag, and decorate the box as you please. Before planting anything in your box, poke several holes in the bottom (and the plastic bag liner) for drainage and you’re ready to go. All this could cost just $10.04 compared to shop-bought planters that cost an average of $76.27.
Make a pet bed
A pet bed bought new from a store costs an average of $47.30, but you could save half of this by putting your creativity to work and making your own out of a cardboard box and craft materials for just $23.58. Create a haven for your furry friend by simply cutting a hole big enough for your cat or dog to fit through and popping a comfy cushion or blanket inside to make sure it’s cozy. You can spruce it up by painting a fun design on the outside, for example, or glue on fabric, rope, and other embellishments.
Build a playhouse
If you’re feeling really crafty, you could even go all out and build your kids (or yourself) a dream playhouse out of leftover cardboard boxes. With a few simple cuts and some glue, you can have working doors, windows, a roof, multiple levels, and more. Let your kids go wild decorating it as a princess palace, medieval castle, modern home, or however they like. It’s bound to produce hours of fun. What’s more, it’ll cost you just $23.86 compared with store-bought playhouses that can cost as much as $1,125.34 on average!
Create a smartphone projector
This one may sound a bit far-fetched, but it’s easy when you know what to do. All you need is a cardboard box, a magnifying glass, a smartphone, and other bits you’re bound to have around the house. This project is a little more complicated, so we’ll let you explore it further on your own with these step-by-step instructions from Expert Photography. What’s fantastic though, is that you could create your own projector for just $28.16, whereas it would set you back an average of $98.85 if you purchased it brand-new from a store.
Once you’ve started, you’ll realize how easy it is to use your creativity to help prevent waste and save money. These are just a few ideas, so use your imagination — the cardboard box upcycling options are endless!
About the Author
Sophie Deering is a freelance writer, exploring topics surrounding the environment, business, and technology.