Recycled Boxes

The towers of boxes in my living room are by turn exhilarating (new adventure!) and overwhelming (so much work to do!). Diane at Mayflower told me to call her whenever I’m getting stressed out about the move — she promised to talk me down from the ledge — and now I’ve got her on speed dial. : )

Mayflower will be bringing boxes when they arrive to do the packing on the 28th. But it turns out I want to do as much of the packing myself as I am able to. I didn’t know I would feel this way. I assumed I would want them to do all the packing. Every last Lego and barrette. But I’ve found that doing the boxing up myself is the ideal way to carefully go through drawers and closets and purge our belongings. And I have to say here, that purging feels good. Really good. If you come by my house and tell me you want something, I’m very likely to hand it to you. (Piano? Take it. Oscar? He’s yours.) It feels that good.

At one point, I did go to Staples and pick up some bankers boxes to put our paperwork and files in. But I’m trying to gather used/recycled boxes for the rest of our belongings. Freecycle has been my best source — by providing either actual boxes or advice on where I can pick up used ones for free. In fact this morning, based on some freecycle advice, Ben Blair and I gathered a ton of boxes at Sound Shore Hospital (and apparently they have dozens on any given morning — who knew?).

Diane also recommended checking out places like U-Haul or self-storage shops if we end up needing to buy any specialized boxes because they usually have the best prices.

What about you? What are your best box sources?


47 thoughts on “Recycled Boxes”

  1. You’re probably leaving the dishes for Mayflower, since you probably don’t need to purge there, but liquor stores have great boxes for glasses and stuff. Granted, I don’t go there unless I need boxes, but they are still very free and the people are rather cool about it too.

  2. Hubby runs a retail shop, so we ALWAYS have boxes (which seem to multiply exponentially) ~ and we’re often “the place” everyone comes to when they need boxes. =) You can always go to retail stores for boxes… they almost always have boxes on hand (especially when they take daily deliveries of inventory).

  3. We buy “misprint” boxes at a local box manufacturer… that way I can get discounted boxes that are a uniform size- and it’s kind of recycling since these wouldn’t get used and would just be trash otherwise… :) And I hear you on packing yourself- it’s SO much easier to go through things and just pack them as you’re going. The one time we hired packers, I ended up with all sorts of things making the move that should never have come with us… including our trash from the kitchen! UGH! :)

  4. We’re military so the gov’t pays for our moves but we usually sell our boxes on Craigslist or give them away on Freecycle. There’s also this website that I stumbled upon. which helps you find boxes in your area or sell them when you’re done!

  5. I actually work for U-Haul so when I was moving it was the first thing to come to my mind. The wardrobe boxes are great. You just hang your clothes in there – no folding or trying to find a way to pack bulky hangers which is great! Also, they have a take a box leave a box program which allows you to re-use boxes other peoples boxes and then a place to take them when you are done. Plus they have all the packing supplies you would ever need… Did I just plug my job?

  6. Is Mayflower giving you a nice discount for mentioning them in almost every post about moving? If so, that is great for you, however, respect your readers enough to tell them upfront! Your ringing endorsements seem a bit like a paid for infomercial.

    Good luck with your new home.

    A long time reader.

  7. We’re a military family so we move a lot. We have them move us, but I like to pack up some things myself. There’s just something creepy to me about a total stranger packing my underwear. There are always tons of boxes around us because we live in housing. I second the suggestion of freecycle and craigslist. You can also check out Wal-Marts. Most stores will give them to you if you ask nicely.

  8. We’re also preparing for a move, but I’m purging now to get the house ready to show. Last time we moved the movers repacked all boxes I had packed, otherwise they wouldn’t insure them. So I’m not bothering this time!
    Good luck with your move :)

  9. Go to your local printer. Those paper boxes are super sturdy and awesome!

    Try and have your RS there to help you unload, ESPECIALLY THE KITCHEN and send off mayflower with as many opened boxes as you can. THey can recycle them, and you won’t have a garage cascading with flattenend boxes.

    The other benefit: dealing with your stuff immediately. It’s easier to pick up a floor and put stuff away than to get the energy to open *another* box. Trust me on this one…

  10. I’ll take Oscar.

    We got free boxes from Craig’s list. Most of our boxes from our NY move are in our garage awaiting the next move. Then I will happily be rid of them for a long, long time.

    Good luck!
    Moving is a great time to get rid of things.

  11. Find out when your local Starbucks gets their roasting plant order and ask if they would save boxes for you (esp. the coffee boxes). Some larger stores get two deliveries/week.


    Not sure if they were the cheapest around,but it was certainly convenient to simply order, click & have it all delivered in a just a few days. Every box was brand new, and the sizes were perfect – nothing too giant or too tiny. I supplemented with a few book boxes and China boxes from U-Haul, and we were good to go. We're moving in 6 weeks, and I am totally going to scrounge around the local hospitals for empty boxes!

  13. Loving all these box suggestions! Thank you everyone.

    Anonymous, truly sorry if these posts about moving aren’t appealing to you. Believe me that I’m totally paranoid I’m talking about the move too much.

    But the reality is, the move (and related topics like last outings in New York and our moving company) is on my mind. No doubt the next few weeks will have a surplus of moving-themed posts on my blog.

    Apologies in advance. : )

  14. Make sure you check on the insurance clause in your contract with the moving company. Many will not cover items you pack yourself. They also won’t make as good notes about the items so you may find that a box of fragile items was stacked at the bottom.

    Encourage the movers to be a specific as possible when writing labels on your boxes. As a pp mentioned, they will pack everything and anything and their goal is to fill boxes so if someone is packing a bedroom but needs to fill some space in a box they will venture into the bathroom or kitchen in search of items. Put huge”Do not pack” signs on the hardware box – the one with the remotes, phones, and all the enveloped and labeled hardware for all the furniture and then carry this box with you or ship it UPS/FED EX to your destination because otherwise it will be the last box found at the bottom of all the piles in the back of the garage, I guarantee it!

  15. I know you did not ask but…:)
    I think you should purge house and put things back in drawers – create a sparse home (imagine you are putting the house on the market). Box only specific things – or have a very good rule for boxing what you box.

    I know you did not ask for this, but my husband and I did the same thing when we were moving and that caused more work while unpacking to some extent. And what the movers do not pack, the movers do not insure.

    And if you do a really good job preparing the home for packers (as in getting rid of what you do not want), unpacking will be a breeze when you get to your new place.

  16. We have moved twice, using liquor boxes almost exclusively. Our local liquor store has stacks of them, and lets anyone come load them up for free! They are relatively small and deep, but it turns out they are PERFECT for all my scrapbooks, dishes, books, office supplies, and anything else that is not huge. The only problem is the looks on new neighbors’ faces when they see nothing but boxes and boxes of what is labeled, “Vodka.” Oh well. Nothing like coming into a new neighborhood with a bang!

  17. We’ve also used a couple of times. They are quick and convenient (especially living in NYC w/out a car). The boxes are fantastic for moving; thick and sturdy.

  18. We will be moving at the end of the summer…a cheater move, just a block away from our current home, but we still have to pack…I plan on using “freecycle”, and craigslist, friends of mine used it both to get boxes and then recycle them on to someone else who was moving. I think it is a great idea.

  19. You’re doing the cardboard thing, so this doesn’t exactly fit your bill. But. I saw a cool story in the NYTimes once about a company that delivers boxes to your doorstep, made from recycled plastic. You pack, move, and they pick up the empty boxes later. And, as you might expect, they transport everything in a fleet of green-mobiles.

  20. for boxes. a lot of people are dying to get rid of theirs. or the recycling center.

    my mom gave me this great tip when we started our life of moving often. pack one box with a set of sheets for each bed, towels, shower curtain, and anything else you need to just lock the door and go to sleep the first night. then the next day you can start finding all the rest of your goods. i like to make a huge #1 on this box so i can find it quickly. clean sheets and your own bed always make that first night’s sleep easier.

  21. Ask at the local libraries. They get books in super sturdy boxes all the time and they just throw them out. That is where we got all of our boxes and they are awesome.

    (E-mail me if you need a contact.)

  22. The liquor store. They’ll let you take their extra cardboard boxes for free. Boxes from cases of wine are especially great for packing glasses or other small breakables that each need their own section of a box, because the wine boxes have carboard dividers.
    (You can also remove the cardboard dividers to pack larger items.)

  23. I don’t like these moving posts… because I don’t want you guys to move!!! At least I’ll still see you, every 6 months or so.

    I want Oscar. And the piano. And will you throw in Ralph as well?

  24. I think going to supermarkets helps. I remember when we were moving (3 months ago) we also contacted U-haul and they have a second hand box shop where you can buy for even cheaper used boxes. Best of wishes in your new adventure.

  25. Years ago our friend told us his dad’s saying that two moves equals a house fire. In the process of packing everything you own, you tend to want to pare that down quite a bit. I think it feels great to get rid of the non-essentials, but sometimes being forced to do it is the only way it happens. Good luck, Gabrielle!!

  26. Liquor stores!! The boxes that bottles of liquor and wine come in are great because they usually have dividers which helps with smaller and fragile things.

  27. I’m moving/packing right now. I worked at Gap for a few years and called some friends who worked there and asked them to hold some boxes…their boxes ROCK! call someone and have them hold boxes for you after shipment.

    Also, I’ve been getting a ton of different sized boxes from Archiver’s (a scrapbook store). The boxes are perfect for books since they aren’t too big …which when filled with boxes a bigger box is way too hard to carry.

    Also the local grocery stores here take our names and hold boxes for us.

    Craigslist is a good place as well.

    Another place to try….the liquor store :) Yes you might run the risk of having your new neighbors think you might have a drinking problem…but….

    Lowes/home depot has brown packing paper great for filling the spaces in the boxes and kits for glasses and dishes!

  28. I really liked getting boxes at the grocery store. I tried to get a lot of the exact same box, so that they were easy for the movers to haul and stack.

    I mostly gathered small boxes so that I could pack up little bits at a time and pack them well. Little boxes are easier to move around, lift, haul, and unpack!

    I cut strips of construction paper – a different color for each room and taped them to the boxes. ( I should really blog this LOL ) I taped two pieces per box, so that 4 sides of the box had the color. It just made it so easy to see the color and during the unload be able to holler out – Kitchen, Masterbedroom, family room & not have to squint and read the labels.

    My husband and I tend to move every three years, so I save as many boxes as possible.

  29. When you’re moving house you have so much to think about that it can be easy to forget something important. That’s why we’ve put together these Moving Tips, to help you remember!

    Your box of essential items is all the things that you should keep from being packed away, and though this will vary depending on whether you’re moving a short or a long distance, use this list as a guide to help you decide what you need.

    The box of essentials should contain all the things that you will need in the last day or so in your old house and within the first few days in your new house, before you’ve had a chance to unpack everything else. This list is by no means exhaustive, but should give you a good start!

  30. Bookshops are an excellent source of boxes. I used to work in bookshops and we always had stacks and stacks of boxes to recycle. They are usually good sturdy boxes too because they have carried books! We were only too glad to give them to people who asked for them. Often we had so many it was overwhelming.

  31. oy… I remember driving all over Akron looking for boxes to pack up my apartment after grad school (everyone had already compressed their boxes). and I get so involved with the sorting aspect that I fail to actually pack. I have to employ friends’ help to get boxes filled and taped up and labeled. I think my best source for boxes was a shoe store. The boxes were a great, handle-able size for heavy things, and I have a ton of books…

  32. Would also check out craigslist. But I had the best bet with freecycle which you have already used. Also at Kinkos and other paper/copying places.

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