How to Recycle Cardboard Boxes

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Empty cardboard boxes, whether they were used to move personal belongings or to deliver office supplies and furniture, are among the easiest items to recycle. You can toss them into the recycle dumpsters or you can reuse them into many practical and creative items for the home. Here are just a few of the countless ways to recycle those cardboard boxes for home use.

Things You'll Need

  • Empty cardboard boxes
  • Craft knife or box cutter
  • Glue
  • Adhesive tape
  • Craft paper or art paper
  • Dismantle the boxes and lay them flat so that they don't take up too much space. This way you will also be able to gauge how much cardboard material you have on hand for your recycling projects.

  • Plan your projects. Make sketches and estimate dimensions. Be ready with your craft knife or box cutter (scissors are often inadequate in cutting up thick cardboard), enough glue, art paper or other decorative items you want to include in your project.

  • Make an art frame. The flat, rigid surface of a cardboard panel makes it easy to work with as if it were a wood panel. Cut a piece to size to serve as the backboard. Stack strips and glue them together to create the frame borders. Wrap the borders by gluing craft paper for a natural look or art paper for different color effects. Attach a lightweight art piece to the middle of the frame, glue or tape a hanging wire on the back and hang the frame on the wall.

  • Make a trash bin. Design a customized and personalized trash bin that will coordinate with your décor. Cut cardboard panels and tape them together to form an open container of just the right shape and size. Decorate the outside by gluing craft paper, art paper, fabric or any other desired texture. Decorate with items such as dried botanicals, beads, sticks and shells.

  • Make a mini-shelf. Because cardboard can be glued together to form relatively sturdy boards and panels, they can be cut and assembled into small shelving units. Cardboard shelves can hold lightweight containers of herbs, spices, condiments and teabags.

  • Make a divider for the sock drawer. Design the most ergonomic sectioning for your sock drawer and create the dividers by cutting and gluing cardboard sections together.

  • Make file organizers. You don't have to buy expensive desktop filing systems; make your own. Design the boxes with dividers to cater to your filing system, whether they're recipe cards, loose photos, bills, store coupons, documents or whatever you need to keep sorted and organized. Decorate the boxes with your favorite colors and designs.

  • Use your imagination to create various cardboard crafts and décor items for the home.

Tips & Warnings

  • The thick corrugated cardboard used for packing furniture pieces and other heavyweight items are almost as sturdy as ply board. Notice how large upright displays used in theater lobbies are mostly made of recycled and recyclable cardboard instead of wood. Consider using cardboard for poster backing, bulletin boards and message centers. Even doll houses.
  • Cardboard can be safely composted.
  • Cardboard is still not as durable as wood. Remember this when designing items that might need to withstand weight and stress.

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  • Photo Credit Photos by Ruby Bayan
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