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What’s the reason you keep empty boxes?

January 15, 2024 7:44 AM | Janet Schiesl, CPO® (Administrator)

Janet Schiesl

Basic Organization

Are empty boxes the newest indication of over-consumption?

Recently my team member, Denene mentioned that she’s been observing a new trend happening with our clients.

I’m noticing more and more that everyone seems to be collecting boxes!! Spaces are being overrun by empty boxes. Not only are people keeping shipping boxes of various shapes and sizes (just in case), but they are also collecting all sorts of used, pretty boxes (too pretty to throw away).

A bunch of the clients already have (or we worked on setting up) a small space for their box “collection” (mostly the pretty gift-type boxes) to make it easy for them to find what they need.

The key is to not go beyond the small space and to use them! I have to say I’m guilty of collecting boxes too, so this has been a good reminder to me.

I think we all have a stash of odd boxes lying around, but I have to agree with Denene, it’s becoming something else that needs organizing. How did we get to the point where we need to sort, declutter, organize, and maintain empty boxes? Below are the types of boxes I see most and what I think you should be doing with them instead of keeping them.

The Amazon Box

Of course, the proliferation of online shopping has made cardboard clutter something most people deal with these days. Maybe some of us save a unique box or two (but probably never use them). If you shop online then you’ll probably agree with me that if you get rid of your stash more will be delivered soon.

Here’s a way to use those shipping boxes.

I have a challenge for you! One of the reasons that clutter collects is that we bring more into our homes than we take out. One of the organizing strategies we live by is the One In-One Out rule. So take some of those empty boxes and create donation stations throughout your house and fill them with items that will equal the volume of what was delivered. Donation stations can be located in clothes closets, kitchens, laundry rooms, linen closets, and garages. You can even use a box to collect papers destined for shredding. You’ll reuse the box while also creating a donation system to keep your home organized.

There’s even a program that makes it easy for you to donate. Have you heard of Give Back Box? It’s a new method of donation because, in addition to creating a secondary use for your cardboard boxes and guaranteeing that they will be recycled, it helps clear closets, create jobs, and offer more companies and their customers an opportunity to recycle. All you have to do is pack items you no longer need into your empty boxes and then download shipping labels from their website and deliver your donations to UPS, USPS, or FedEx. They distribute your donations to their partner organizations.

The Gift Boxes

If you are a gift-giving person you probably have a collection of shirt boxes, jewelry boxes, and gift bags somewhere in your home. A few can come in handy at the spur of the moment, but how many do you actually need? They are not a dime a dozen, but pretty close! These days most of us live around the corner from a Dollar Tree or Dollar General where gift boxes can be purchased in packs of 2, 3 or 4 for $1.25. Adopt the mindset that you’ll let these stores store your gift boxes until you need them.

Let go of the gift boxes.

This is what I do. I use most gift boxes when wrapping holiday gifts, so I go purchase what I think I’ll need at the beginning of the season. Then once the holidays are over, I’ll offer any leftovers for free on my Buy Nothing group.

The Specific Boxes

I’ve observed clients saving boxes for specific items. Boxes for TVs, stereos, small kitchen appliances, and toys are the bulk of what I’ve seen. The biggest reason for keeping them is that they might need the boxes the next time they move and the second reason is that they’ll need the box if they sell the item.

Use the right product for the job.

We do a lot of packing for moves, so when our clients want to use these boxes to move I advise them to think again. Usually, these boxes are oddly shaped, therefore they won’t stack well in the moving truck. They’ll also be harder for the movers to balance/carry them onto the truck. The last thing we want is for their items to get damaged after all their box-saving efforts.

Did you know there is a difference between packing a box to move and packing a box for shipping?

Yes, there is a difference. So our clients who are saving a specific box for stereo pieces or small kitchen appliances are saving the box that was used to ship that item. An item can be packed for a move much more efficiently with packing paper and without all that odd-shaped Styrofoam that’s impossible to figure out how to reuse for packing.

The Moving Boxes

I’ve even encountered people who save moving boxes (in bulk) for their next move. Now, I’m all for reusing these boxes. But I always advise our clients that they are not worth the cost of the square footage in their home. It’s best to offer used boxes to family and friends (or try to Buy Nothing or Facebook Marketplace) for free. Let the good karma sent out with the boxes come back if you decide to reuse boxes at you next move.

Moving is expensive, but boxes are not.

These days, the cost of moving is not for the faint of heart. It’s expensive! So the thought of saving a lot of money on your move by reusing boxes is not realistic. Yes, you’ll save some. But is it enough that it will be worth giving up the square footage in your home now to save some later? My last word on this subject is that if you absolutely need to save your moving boxes, at least break them down so they take up less space. Re-taping is cheap people!

So I hope I’ve inspired you to let go of a couple (or many) of the empty boxes around your house. Take a minute to find a few, break them down, and put them in your recycling (if they are recyclable). Then start enjoying that little extra space that you created in your garage, basement or closet.

For more information contact Janet Schiesl.

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