After the Move: What to Do with All Those Boxes?

Just when you thought the move was over and done with, you turn a corner and see a big pile of moving boxes. Some may be in pristine condition, others may have barely survived the move. And it’s been three weeks now! Don’t despair—here’s everything you need to know about recycling moving boxes.

The first thing to do is check all the boxes. Seriously, just like a $20 bill in the pocket of an old pair of jeans, there could be something in one of those boxes that was somehow overlooked when you unpacked.

Now it’s time to get creative. Even if you’ve never really given the question, “What can I make with a cardboard box?” a lot of thought, there’s a lot you can do. This inspired the writers at to pose the question: “Who needs an iPad when you’ve got a cardboard box?” Here’s Buzzfeed’s list of 31 things you can make. My favorite is #7, “A bed that won’t hurt your sock money’s back.” I’ve been looking for one of those.

Not satisfied with less than three dozen ideas? How about 101? I especially like the sad robots.

If your move has left you flat broke, you can use your cardboard boxes to make a modular bookcase, laptop stand or lampshades—just don’t leave any unattended candles.

When you’ve run out of things to make and ways to entertain yourself, you’ll still have a bunch of boxes. Take a look at Freecycle and see if anyone in your neighborhood needs them. You can also use, which is a good way to get to know your new neighbors.

If you have a garage or storage space, you can break down the boxes and store them until you move again. I’ve never done this in my life, because I always think, “Hey, by the time I move again I will have gone through all this stuff, sorted it out, and I won’t need so many boxes.” I want to travel light, which is hard to do with a stack of boxes.

And that brings us to recycling moving boxes that you don’t think you’ll need—either to make a lampshade or for your next move. Fold them up, flatten them out, and then strike up a conversation with your new neighbor about recycling in your neighborhood. Or, if your new neighbor is really charming, offer to make her a cardboard lampshade.

Conna Shannon

Conna Shannon

Conna is a writer, editor and aspiring filmmaker. She's into DIY, upcylcing and macrobiotic cooking. She lives in Monterey, California, with a yellow lab named Daisy.
Conna Shannon

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