Like rabbits or dust bunnies, cardboard boxes somehow multiply when they arrive at a house. They arrive in a variety of ways, such as from a moving truck carrying your pots and pans, to a delivery van bringing boxes of gifts that you bought online.
However they get there, cardboard boxes can quickly clutter a home if they’re not cut down and put out with the recyclables. An option to destroying them, however, is finding fun ways to use them around the house. Here are some useful and fun ways to reuse cardboard boxes:
1. Toys for kids. Give a small child a big box, and you’ve got a full day’s worth of play in hand. They can crawl in it and use their imaginations for an adventure, turn it into a rocket or car, make an arcade, or use it as a hideout for the day. The bigger the box, the better.
Bob Sherman, 77, and retired in Glenview, Ill., says when he was a kid, he and his friends would slide down steep hills on boxes, “sometimes twirling on the way down, with the help of someone at the top giving us a twist, and landing in a pile of leaves at the bottom.”
Another idea: “We each got inside a box so we couldn’t see, then ran around bumping into each other and falling down,” Sherman says. What could be more fun for a kid?
2. Make a sign. Cut off part of a cardboard box and write on it for a yard sale sign. It’s free and you won’t have to buy signs to advertise your garage sale. Use magic markers and paint to draw photos or words to attract shoppers, as New Jersey resident Shad Ronayne did.
3. Litter box or play area for a cat. A medium or shoebox can be turned into a litter box for a cat. The animal shelter in Edison, N.J., for example, accepts donations of such cardboard boxes for quick and easy litter pans, Ronayne says. A box can also be turned upside down with a hole cut out of the end and placed on top of a litter box for the cat to have some privacy, and to give you a chance to not have to see the mess.
Like children, cats also love to hide in boxes. Heidi Hecht, 32, a secretary in Benson, Ill., says she saved some boxes for her cats to play in after she moved. Hecht also took some boxes to her local recycling center.
4. Working outside. Instead of lying on the cold, hard cement when changing your car’s oil, or kneeling on hard dirt when pulling weeds, either flatten out a large box or fold over a box a few times to create a landing spot for your back or knees. Writer David Baake, 48, of Atlanta, says that he flattens large cardboard boxes to lie on when changing the oil in his car.
5. Cardboard swimming pool. This requires a lot more than a few old cardboard boxes. It takes a lot of work and supplies from a hardware store, such as contact cement and hardrock coating to make the pool waterproof. Lue Nuwame, 37, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, has a YouTube channel devoted to helping people re-use cardboard boxes and other scrap. He also makes chairs, skateboards and costume props.
6. Recycling box. Using a recycled cardboard box as a box to put paper in to be recycled is a good example of recycling. Draw a recycling symbol on the side of the box and keep it near your desk to make paper recycling easier. Or put it in a corner and toss old paper in it from your chair as a fun work break.
7. Filing. Rather than spending money on real filing cabinets, use old cardboard boxes to store important documents. Medium-size boxes are perfect for filing, and labels can be added to separate documents.
For more ideas, see the videos below: