Simplicity 101: 15 Ways to Repurpose Your Box Clutter

Too many boxes laying around your house?  Can't bear to recycle a perfectly good box?  Here are some great ideas on how to reuse your boxes!

Now, there are lots of wonderful organizers out there who will tell you there is one thing and one thing only to do with clutter like boxes.  And that's to get rid of them (aka, recycle them).  And that's great advice.  But if you're like me, you see this perfect box and you think "Well, this can be used for something!" And now you've found yourself with a bajillion boxes and not sure what to do with them.  I've been there too, many times.  But now, after getting creative with how I want to repurpose things in my life, I've found many great uses for them, other than breaking them down and putting them into our recycle bin (though I do that, too, when I need to).  In order for me to want to repurpose, rather than recycle, the project has to fit certain criteria: 

  • First, it has to be something I need or can use.  Meaning, it can't be a fluff project.  Just like I never had my kids glue macaroni to paper (yes, I know it's fine motor coordination, but they had enough things to teach them that back in the day, and I do not approve a) wasting food and b) teaching fluff--they loved making real art projects instead), I won't cut up an object just to be thrown away.  Who kept their kids macaroni art?  Raise your hand.  I bet there's no hands up right now LOL.  I, personally, still have my kids' paintings they did on canvas.  Don't get me wrong, they look like a three-year old painted them, but that's because they were.  And I love it.  It reminds me of the times we sat down together and made art together, just for fun (we homeschooled our kids--though I didn't stop the kids from being kids, they could do all sorts of stuff that other people may call "fluff", but when it comes to creating, we didn't make "throwaway" stuff).  So if I'm going to repurpose something, it needs to be something I can use for a long time or at least a while.  It not only must serve a purpose, but a very good one.  I can't justify just an "exchange" of this for that, just to repurpose something.  Like, there was this project online about how to turn your cat litter container into a kitty litter scoop.  Why?  Why would anyone do that?  If you have cat litter, you most likely have a scoop already.  Why would you create a crappier (ha!) scoop for the good one you already have?  And new ones are cheap enough to buy.  So no, if I am going to repurpose my kitty litter containers, it's going to be for something really good and really useful.  This goes for anything and everything to repurpose, no "throwaway" stuff.  
  • Second, it needs to be easy.  I am not up for complicated.  I have too much to do each day to fit some complicated project into my agenda.  
  • Third, it needs to be basically free.  I can't justify spending money to upcycle something (other than clothing) when I can just recycle it instead.  So if I have mostly everything for the project, and the project excites me?  Then it's most likely something I will try.  If it's throwaway, complicated, or expensive (or any combination of the three), then it's out.  

Though first before we go on, I need to make the point that recycling cardboard is actually pretty great, as it helps create new cardboard and paper products without the need for cutting down more trees and uses WAY less water then creating new ones.  And some places will even pay you for your cardboard (call your local recycling places to find out). 

But while recycling is great, reducing and reusing are better choices first.  So opt for that Amazon Day delivery to get less boxes, and stop buying plastic as much as you can (I know that has nothing to do with boxes, but it's valid when talking about recycling).  But, if you do get a build up of boxes, what do you do if you have them all over your basement, garage, or a certain room in your house?  Here are some fun and interesting ideas!

15 Ways to Repurpose Your Boxes

  1. Give them away to people moving.  I always used to list mine on Facebook Marketplace or a local Facebook sale group and within an hour, my boxes are usually picked up and gone.  If you're moving, you know the deep desperation for moving boxes.  And since most mine are Amazon boxes, they work great for moving boxes.  
  2. Use them to kill weeds.  If you don't mind also losing your grass.  Granted, if you have a weed issue, like burdock, your grass is already gone under those horrible plants.  So just lay some cardboard down and put some heavy stuff on top (like mulch or pallets work well), get it wet, and let the cardboard kill off your weeds.  It's biodegradable, so you're all good just letting it sit until you know it's really all dead.  
  3. Make a layered garden.  Don't feel like tilling?  Then lay down your cardboard (or newspaper if you don't have weeds), then top with hay and dirt and you're ready to go!  No till garden method for the win!  Here is a book called No-Dig Gardening that I read and love!
  4. Make a hamster house.  Cut the pieces out for the walls and roof, then cut holes for entrances and exits, and glue together (with safe glue, Google what you can use with small animals) and bam, you have a basically free hamster house!  And it's better because plastic houses will get condensation and can be gross for your hamster.  
  5. Make a dollhouse.  Oh I just love this YouTuber, Bentley House Minis, who makes dollhouses!  She inspired me to make my own (that I am still not done with).  She also made furniture out of cardboard, too!  So the next time you want to run out and buy yourself or someone you know a dollhouse, try making one, instead!  And if you watch you, I assure you, you will get hooked and start making your own dollhouses asap!  
  6. Make a Cat Scratch Toy.  Want your cat to think you're the coolest parent ever?  Then cut your boxes into strips (the width with the be the height of the toy), roll around a small object, and use wood glue to adhere layers. Just keep going around and around until it's as wide as you like.  Tie together to hold until it dries.  One dry, remove tie and top with catnip.  Your kitty will be the happiest cat on the block and will be forever grateful to you for handmaking him a toy (just kidding, he won't care how you got it for him--but it's free, so that's a win!).  
  7. Use as a canvas.  Just put gesso over the top and make all sorts of paintings.  Great thing about these?  You can frame them!  Unlike how hard it is to frame actual canvases.  And they're soooo much cheaper! And if you have a lot, you can have virtually unlimited canvases!  Just cut out the sizes you want and recycle the rest!
  8. Make a art journal or a junk journal cover.  Or any book, really.  You can use corrugated cardboard or the cereal box kind.  You can either make one bound with rings  (so the back and front are separate) or one long piece with a spine in the middle.  You can cover them fabric, gesso, duct tape, scrapbook paper, or anything you want.  Or you can even make it look like an old book, by taking paper towels, separating the two-ply pieces, and using Mod Podge and a paintbrush to make a crinkled look.  Then paint it in black, and dry brush a metallic color over it.  I've done this several times and it looks awesome!  The sky is really the limit with homemade journals!  
  9. Put on a play.  Cardboard makes great props!  And when you're done, recycle them!
  10. Make an organizer.  Put a bunch of TP tubes into a shoebox, and stuff with things you need to keep organized.  Like, colored pencils or crayons, sorted by color.  Or your kid's rock collection.  Or other small items you need to keep separate.  Just make sure you label it if you put the lid on and store it.  Or else you'll end up playing the game I usually play called "What the hell is in this box??"  
  11. Make a light box for photography.  Cut the flaps off, paint the inside white, and cut holes for lights (cover the holes with coffee filters).  Why spend a billion bux on a light box when you probably have everything you need right at home?  
  12. Make personalized letters for yourself and others.  Here is a great link on how to do that, because buying them?  It's RIDONKCULOUSLY overpriced!  And here is another link to make metal-looking ones, too!  
  13. Make a case for your Kindle or Ipad.  Here is a great link that will teach you how!  
  14. Make a foot rest.  If you have a LOT of corrugated cardboard boxes?  This one is for you.  Cut each box to the size you want.  Then start layering.  Use every single piece of the boxes.  Just piece together the smaller ones to fit on the layer below it.  Use one part wood glue to one part water (with a house paintbrush) to adhere together.  You can make it a circle or a square (though maybe round the edges some).  And just keep gluing them together until the right height is reached.  Then top with a good amount of batting and staple (or glue) fabric over it on the bottom.  Glue a large piece of felt to the bottom.  Or if you don't want it to slide, use something tacky, like that stuff you buy for rugs.  I suggest covering it in water proof fabric, like maybe a vinyl table cloth.  This is to protect it from wetness.  You can use the same technique to make headboards, furniture, desks, or pretty much anything.  Wood glue dries hard, so it will stiffen your cardboard, plus the amount of layers you use, also helps strengthen it.  If you want to make a seat, always cover with cushions so it won't dent.  If you found enough boxes, you could even make your own box spring for a bed (and you'd only need one large box for the bottom, the rest you could piece on top of that one as you made it).  Again, the sky is the limit on this one.  A great way to get rid of all your boxes and get some new shelves or furniture!  I am going to try this one tomorrow and see just host sturdy it gets!  
  15. Combine some of the above ones to make indoor signs!  So, cut a piece of cardboard or two, if you want it thick..  Make the one part wood glue to one part water mixture and cover it.  Gesso the front of it.  Paint it the color you want, including the metal look we talked about for the letters.  Then cut out letters or pictures out of paper or from vinyl with your Cricut (or similar--Dollar Tree has Cricut supplies now!) and put them on the sign.  You can poke holes in the corners to attach twine or rope to.  And hang it.  Bam!  You can even sell these!  A great way to use up your boxes and get cute signs for your house!  

So, did you get some great ideas on what to do with your box collection?  I hope so!  Have any ideas of your own?  Let me know below!  And now, go have some fun and get that box collection moving!!  

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