The humble cardboard box is filled with possibility, even after you’ve initially used it. But what do you usually do with a cardboard box once you’re done with it? If you throw it out or recycle it, you’re really missing out on its hidden potential. There are quite a few creative uses for cardboard boxes.
The list below is a love letter to the cardboard box — 23 tips to reinterpret, reinvent, and reuse it either temporarily or permanently. Take some tongue-in-cheek, take some to heart, and the next time you can — take a few homes from Box-it.
1. Packing and moving: Alright this one is probably the most basic use but it provides lots of use. From glassware to heavy curtains, a sturdy box will serve you extremely well.
2. Shipping: Probably the most obvious recycled use is the cardboard box’s primary use — packing and shipping. Sending stuff across the city, country or even the ocean? Well then making sure it is sent in a sturdy box is pretty important!
3. Filing: Create the perfect low-budget filing system by grabbing some of our boxes and organizing your tax returns, instruction manuals, old varsity papers or extra family photos.
4. Recycling bin: I’ve always found it strange that we spend money buying containers to sort recyclables. Grab a big cardboard box, label appropriately, and truly go green.
5. Trash bin: See Tip #4. Isn’t using garbage to store garbage poetic simplicity?
6. Car trunk organizer: Toss a medium-sized box in your trunk to organize quarts of oil, windshield washer fluid, jumper cables and other emergency items.
7. Signs: Having a yard sale or estate sale? Does your industrious child need some serious lemonade stand marketing? Cardboard boxes can become signage with just a few easy snips. Especially I the box has come to no longer serve its purpose as a container.
8. For Little kids: the makeshift car: Let the children have fun playing in an old cardboard box across the living floor. Despite having no batteries, no steering, and no wheels, children will be absolutely delighted in their little makeshift car.
9. Oversized blocks: Small boxes are great as disposable toy blocks. Use markers to draw windows doors, and chimneys on your kid’s blockhouses or make entire little villages. Who needs building blocks?
10. Fort building: Stack boxes of various sizes and shapes to make a fort with your kids. Let them knock it down, repeat.
11. Toybox: Tape over any sharp edges, paint with fun colours, and personalize liberally. There are no heavy lids to fall on tiny fingers and no frustration when this toy box wears out.
12. Gift-giving: Splurge more on the gift by getting the box for free. Whether you’re shipping the item or giving it in-person, boxes make any gift more wallet-wise and eco-friendly.
13. Diorama projects: Those inevitable school projects and science fair displays are all designed perfectly for cardboard. I once explained the process of photosynthesis with just a cardboard box, magic marker, and painted golf ball.
14. Makeshift canvas: Let your kids channel Jackson Pollock with cardboard as their canvas. Frame accordingly.
15. Rough insulation: We’ve all done it — installing that window air conditioner and then trying to insulate around it with cardboard or if a window breaks using. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it works.
16. Pet bed: A low-sided or shallow box makes a perfect pet bed. It may seem down-market, but with an old pillow and soft blanket, your beloved hound won’t complain. Involve the whole family in decorating it with pet-safe items and non-toxic paint.
17. Memory-keeper: An old box is perfect for those greeting cards or old love letters you can’t part with.
18. Table base: Display space is always at a premium during a yard sale or garage sale. Use boxes to keep your merchandise off the floor and closer to eye level. Boards bridging the tops of upturned boxes can optimize space.
19. Puppet stage: Get creative with your kids on a lazy winter Sunday. Create a puppet stage from a repurposed box and decorate the backdrop with wallpaper scraps, gift wrap, or paint.
20. Halloween costume: Become a robot, knight, or big piece of wrapped candy by using cardboard boxes as the foundation of this year’s Halloween costume.
21. Oil spill mat: Catch oil drips before they have a chance to stain your garage floor. A broken-down cardboard box provides two layers of hassle-free protection.
22. Floor protectors and furniture movers: Cardboard is a perfect hardwood floor protector. Cut out discs that fit under your couch and chair legs to prevent scrapes and scratches. Moving large pieces on carpet can be made easier by placing cardboard under heavier pieces and sliding instead of pulling.
23. Food storage: Gardeners can appreciate heavy-duty cardboard boxes during harvest time. Use them to transport produce to market or store potatoes in the pantry. Cardboard flats are great for large quantities of canned food — just load and stack!
We’ve just scratched the surface of all the ways to rethink and reuse the cardboard box. What are some of the creative re-uses you’ve thought of? What common box types have you found the perfect new use for? Share your ideas here and, for once, feel free to not think outside the box.