Uses for Cardboard Boxes

Category Reusing
Recycling your cardboard boxes is a great practice, but don't forget that many of them can be reused in your own home. This is a page about uses for cardboard boxes.


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December 19, 2006

For sending presents by mail instead of using brown paper to cover the box, try recycling a cardboard box that can be gotten from a grocery store or any other store (before they crush them, of course). Instead of blacking out all the writing on the box as the post office suggests, turn the box inside out.

Cut the tape or pull open the glued flaps as if you are going to flatten the box. (If you are lucky you can get the boxes already cut open from the store because some of them flatten the boxes before they crush them.) Carefully cut the seam of the box with a knife so it is able to be opened up flat. Turn the box over to the non-printed side (inside out).

Tape the seam back together with packaging tape inside and outside if you want it to be more stable although taping outside will suffice. Tape the flaps on the bottom closed again. You can then put whatever you are sending in the "new" box and seal it up with the packaging tape. This not only saves on the brown paper and recycles the boxes but also helps the post office because the brown paper often rips off or rips so that it gets stuck in the machinery used to process the packages. The only drawback is that you can only do this once unless you are careful when opening the box and you use easily removable labels on them.


I have done this countless times with no problems at all. Every time the box arrived intact. Happy shipping.

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Save cardboard boxes or if you shop at Costco, at check out they'll put your purchases in cardboard boxes - those boxes are handy! In our household we paint in the boxes to create a mess free painting environment. :)

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If any of you do warehouse shopping, you know that the boxes you put your food in to take it home are not the best, except for one! You will notice that there are always boxes that look like a big "U" was cut out of the middle. Well, you know what? I found they make great train/car tunnels for kids! Just turn it upside down and it is perfect. I babysit and both the 13 month-old and 3 year-old love to drive their trains and cars over, through and around it. They like this better than all the other toys, haha!


By Carol Young from Landisville, PA

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If you are a frequent online shopper, you will receive tons of boxes each month. I do not toss my boxes because they could be used for many things!

Recycled Boxes as a Trash Can - plastic bag inside cardboard box being used as a trash can

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I am always looking for free storage. Shoe boxes are great except you can't see what is in them. What is more frustrating than not knowing what is inside, is not knowing if there is anything inside.

Boxes that are marked "MT" to denote that the boxes are empty.

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We recently bought some furniture at Ikea and used the broken down boxes to protect our floor while we assembled the furniture. When we were done our daughter decided to make her baby brother a play mat to drive his cars on.

Cardboard Vehicle Play Mat

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Now that it is summer vacation, my toddler (3 years old) enjoys box building blocks made with packages we receive from online shopping. As more orders come home, he will have more boxes to play with.

Reusing Cardboard Boxes as Outdoor Blocks - stack of Amazon shipping boxes

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When we got all our stuff unpacked from our recent move, my husband decided to flatten some of the larger packing boxes and use them around the edges of rooms that needed to be painted instead of having drop cloths spread about.

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This year, I put lots of gifts in the cardboard decorated boxes you can buy at the dollar store. I noticed they were perfect for art projects, to protect furniture, and to store after the children are through with them.

Cardboard box under painted suncatcher project.

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April 19, 2005

Don't recycle those inner cardboard boxes used to separate tampons in the multipack. Reuse them for organization!

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

February 12, 2001

I work at a restaurant that throws away all of their cardboard boxes. For a month or so I have been recycling the boxes for them because it annoys me that they throw them away.


Does anyone have any cool uses for boxes? Craft projects that require a lot of boxes? Or somewhere that I can donate boxes. Thanks!


February 12, 20010 found this helpful

You don't say how big the boxes are. If they are about as big as the boxes copy paper comes in, I have decorated them and used these as "cars" for toddlers and preschoolers. Possibly a preschool or daycare center could use them. If they are big (appliance size) boxes, kids love to play house in them. If they are small (shoebox or smaller), let kids get creative and glue them together to make castles, robots, or anything they like.

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February 12, 20010 found this helpful

This site has some ideas.

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February 12, 20010 found this helpful

Having worked at restaurant, I would guess they are probably dealing with mid-sized boxes for produce, canned food and what not.

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February 13, 20010 found this helpful

You can sell or donate cardboard boxes to the local Sheltered Workshop for the developmentally handicapped. They sell them for profit and the money is used for upkeep and to pay the people for working there.


These places give the developmentally handicapped people a sense of usefulness and teaches them to take care of themselves, financially and otherwise.

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February 13, 20010 found this helpful

I use boxes for drawers in places that normally don't have drawers. Cardboard boxes are great, because you can cut them to whatever height you need.

I use them for storage drawers under my bed, for drawers on my freezer shelves to keep food types together and easy to get out. I use them in the attic to organize plastic bags full of yard-sale finds that the kids haven't grown into yet.

Kids love to play in boxes, make cars, trains, mazes out of them, attach several together with open ends all facing one direction for a multi-story doll house.


A local school would probably love boxes for dioramas, storage, crafts.

Maybe you could put a note on a bulletin board about where to pick up "free boxes for moving (or whatever)".

I'm sure I've seen something about making furniture out of cardboard; the corrugated kind is really strong when set a certain way. - MC

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February 13, 20010 found this helpful

I just made a cooler for the truck of my car using two cardboard boxes and a bunch of plastic grocery bags. Works great, doesn't fall apart like styrofoam, and didn't cost a thing! If the boxes are uniformly shaped, I could imagine giant building blocks or a storage system for seasonal clothes and decorations. I keep craft supplies organized in smaller ones. If you want to try the cooler, the instructions can be found at the link below.

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February 13, 20010 found this helpful

When I was a teacher we always needed boxes for one thing or another-all shapes and sizes. Maybe check with your local school and see if they could use them, or better yet, if you know any teachers ask them directly. Also, if you live near a college, maybe some of the students could use them at the end of the year to pack up their things! Good luck! - Beth

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February 13, 20010 found this helpful

It sounds like you have a steady supply of same-size boxes. This is what some frugal women dream about! I can assure you there are people who would love to have those.

To a frugal mom, this might mean enough compatibly-sized boxes to make a neat and efficient storage system for out-of-season clothes and yard sale bargains. To a teacher, it could be the storage system she's been longing for, to keep all her seasonal decorations organized, her craft materials, her collection of creative seat-work and seasonal activities, and more. To a woman running a home business on a shoestring, this might take the place of the filing cabinets her budget won't cover. To a quilter or other home-crafter, it would be the storage system she's always dreamed of, one with enough room for everything to have a set place. To a pack-rat wanting to declutter without hiring a organization consultant, those boxes would be the system for sorting out the stuff she digs out of closets and junk drawers.

To someone just experimenting with composting, a cardboard box is a convenient way to keep all those scraps together, and as a bonus, the bin itself can decompose into fertilizer. To a teen, it could be the key to packing up stuff for college in the fall. For someone with a woodstove or a fireplace, it is first a box for kindling, and then it too becomes kindling.

Ask around, and you will surely find some takers for those boxes. - Rose Berry, thrift fanatic

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February 15, 20010 found this helpful

I would like to congratulate the restaurant worker for not throwing away the cardboard boxes. If he/she lives in any size city, there is probably a recycle place that takes cardboard (usually cannot be mixed with other recycling). Call the mayor's office to find out. Also if there are any colleges nearby, sometimes they will have a bin on campus where you could put in the flatten pieces. - chunkychow

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By spencer burt (Guest Post)
April 1, 20050 found this helpful

hey what size are the boxes cause if there small i could use them cause me and my friend are going to california in agust for our graduation and we wont get enough money just from our jobs cause we need $1800 total together to go and im going to need drop boxes to put at different business so people can donate money so if you can help call me at 801-298-4861

thanks spencer

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By Emily (Guest Post)
August 8, 20050 found this helpful

Me and my friends took a bunch of cardboard and made cardboard CARS out of them and then raced them by like running... heres our website if you wanna see :) it was great fun and we had a blast

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January 10, 20060 found this helpful

Depending on the size of the boxes....anyone who sells on ebay or other online auction would like them for mailing items they sell.

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By Tristan (Guest Post)
January 12, 20060 found this helpful

Need 5 large boxes that people could lay or sit in for 6 hours. One of many events for Amnesty international STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN campaign. Our school is hoping to raise 2000 pounds if you can help please respond. trisvsv @ (remmove space)

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By Josh (Guest Post)
February 4, 20080 found this helpful

I'm currently in A-2 studio at Boston Architectural College. One of our projects this semester is to design a chair to be made out of cardboard. The challenge is that we cannot use any sort of glue or fasteners. We must assemble it by created joints in the cardboard. Please wish me luck.

I do know that making chairs out of cardboard is not a new idea if you do a google search your bound to find all sorts of interesting things people have done with cardboard.

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By dbmy3 (Guest Post)
July 6, 20080 found this helpful

When I have several boxes I make a playhouse for my cats. Duct tape them together & cut corresponding holes for them to climb through. They enjoy it for weeks.
When I was young my mom & sister made me a doll house out of boxes, left over wallpaper and other fabric scraps. It was biggest and coolest of all my friends.

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By Vivor. (Guest Post)
November 28, 20080 found this helpful

I work for a company that sends us WAY too much cardboard. I had made these suggestions to my fellow employees.Some are the same you have...

1. Burn barrel starter material.
2. Garage floor covering for oil spills.
3. Packing material for shipping your friends presents.

4. Makeshift dust pans for large floor junk in the garage.
5. Storm window coverings.
6. Broken car window replacements.

7. Coloring material for the kids.
8. Project material for the kids and their friends and their friends...
9. Backing for paper note pads.

10. Garage notes for measuring, drawing or figuring something so you don't have to back into the house to find a note pad and pencil.
11. To use for your outside burn barrel cover, to set on the grass so the hot lid won't burn the grass.
12. Patterns for things.

13. Garage trash holders.
14. Use extra 123's to hold your movies in,
15. Use them for bookshelves or CD holders.

16. Sock drawer separator walls.
17. Placemats for the table when kids are doing home projects.
18. Fan to restart your burn barrel fire.

19. Computer mouse pads.
20. Wind protector for the beach.
21. Cut & line with foil and create a sun tan shield for your face.

22. Inside cupboard lining.
23. Silverware drawer separators.
24. Mudroom flooring.

25. Recycle.
26. Kids play houses.
27. Play houses for your cats.

28. Tear up for a compost pile or a worm bed.
29. Donate to a local cardboard drive.

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March 14, 20090 found this helpful

You could check with your local Postmaster (the Post Office is the largest recycler in the US) and see if he will allow you to "donate" your cardboard boxes. My husband works for the Post Office here in Texas and they would allow that--but it's critical to talk to the Postmaster.

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March 26, 20090 found this helpful

I use cardboard in my garden. Instead of laying down 5 or 6 sheets of newspaper or instead of purchasing that expensive fabric in the garden department that you lay under your mulch, I cut up the cardboard boxes and then put my mulch on top of them. It sure keeps the weeds away from my rose bushes and other plants and it will eventually deteriorate into the garden.

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Answer this Question...

I have completed several jigsaw puzzles and have glued them together to frame them. What do I do with the boxes? I really don't want to discard them.

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March 16, 2017

Raised beds are usually made from wood, concrete or stone. You can use something as simple as a large cardboard box however, it will last likely only last one season. This is a page about making raised beds using cardboard boxes.

Cardboard Box

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March 2, 2017

A large cardboard box can be rescued in a myriad of ways. Making a dollhouse from a leftover box is a perfect way to use it again. This is a page about making cardboard box dollhouses .

A pile of cardboard boxes.

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