Cardboard boxes are items that we usually hate to toss out, even if we can’t think of any good use for them. We acquire them with nearly every product we order online, after a move, and even from our grocery purchases. Though our intentions are good, we often end up with a closet, garage, or attic full of empty cardboard boxes. Here’s a list of eco-friendly solutions for that box clutter without throwing them in the garbage.

  • Recycle—Check your local recycling facilities to see if they take cardboard, or use websites like Earth911 to find the nearest center. Some websites like or will actually pay for boxes in good shape. Disassemble dry, grease-free boxes so that they can be stacked flat on top of each other, then bundle them together with twine.


  • Ship—As long as the old label and/or address on the box has been removed or marked out you can slap a new label on it and ship it again. Use it to send a care package to your college student or that friend living overseas. If you frequently ship items that you sell online, reuse boxes to offset your shipping costs. Add a note in your shipping policies to inform potential buyers that you’re doing your part to lower their costs and help the environment—they’ll appreciate it!


  • Donate—You can easily find friends or charitable organizations that need good quality cardboard boxes. Craigslist also gives you the option of giving away your boxes for free. You can put them on the curb, post a free ad, and help someone who’s moving and needs all of the boxes they can get.


  • Store—Use those boxes for their purpose. Store CD and DVD cases, memorabilia, out-of-season clothing, holiday decorations, and equipment that you need but use only a few times a year like ski or camping gear. Label your boxes clearly and neatly; you can even write a complete list of the box’s contents on its most visible side. Nest smaller boxes for items like iPods, cameras, computers—things that you can potentially resell in the future—in each other, then put those in a larger box and label it.



  • Turn a couple of larger boxes into a home recycling station. Items like aluminum cans, newspapers and magazines, and plastic bottles all have to be separated before you throw them away. If your community doesn’t offer curbside pickup for recyclable items, stick some mid-sized boxes in your garage or just outside the back door. You can easily lean out the door and toss your beverage cans and newspapers into the boxes. When the boxes are full, simply load them into the trunk of your car and take them to be emptied at the nearest recycling facility.


There are endless reuses for cardboard boxes. Use these five tips to help eliminate clutter from your home without adding waste to the garbage bin, and look around your home for more ways to use those boxes. You’ll discover new, practical, money-saving applications in no time!