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Climbing Mount Cardboard

This is a picture of my yucky basement. More specifically, it’s a picture of all the cardboard boxes that need to stop filling up my yucky basement. Yet I’m stumped regarding what I should do with what I refer to as Mount Cardboard.

The only downside of online shopping is all the boxes. They show up in my mailbox and on my porch, I bring them in and excitedly tear off 300 layers of tape to get what I ordered, and I throw the empty boxes in a corner somewhere. Once I get tired of looking at boxes all over the place, I go through the house and offer another sacrifice to Mount Cardboard. What the heck do people do with empty cardboard boxes?

Recycle them. That would be awesome if there was a recycling center where I live. Years ago, there was one in the old Kmart parking lot, but people used it to drop off their trash. (We don’t have city or county trash pickup, so sometimes people are too cheap to pay to take stuff to the dump.)

Reuse them.ย In the two years that I’ve lived here, I’ve been the BFF to all friends moving to new homes. Need some boxes? How about 20 of them? I can hook you up. Unfortunately, I think all my friends are settled now. Plus I’m not sure how useful a gigantic skinny bookshelf box would be during the moving process. Now I’m stuck with all the big, awkward, or low quality boxes that no one wanted.

Throw them away. The guy who picks up my trash every week will gladly take cardboard – as long as it’s broken down and fits in a garbage bag. Which applied to all the boxes I gave away to my friends, but not to the ones I have left. I’d actually love to watch someone try to flatten the giant box that my desk chair came in and cram it into a 13-gallon kitchen bag.

Burn them. This is the most likely choice. There’s a huge pile of tree branches in my backyard that will need to be burned at some point (AKA Mount Brushmore). Yes, I live in the middle of nowhere and we can set things on fire in our backyards. I could drag Mount Cardboard out to the pile and burn it to its death. That is, until I order some more stuff.

Keep them. Theoretically, I could leave the boxes in the basement for all eternity. My basement is one of those creepy, unfinished horror movie basements where you could totally picture bodies buried in the walls or something. I don’t exactly hang out down there. It doesn’t hurtย anything for Mount Cardboard to exist; it just drives me crazy.

What do you do with cardboard boxes? Any suggestions for me? Am I the only weirdo with enough boxes to name and photograph?

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. Anonymous says:

    When I was selling on Ebay I would hoard cardboard boxes.  About every other week I would go to the Dollar General and out back they had racks of flattened boxes for the taking.  I know…. that does not help you at all.  But I did get a little excited to see all that cardboard ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. You forgot my personal favorite: Make a giant fort with them. 

    I always go for boxes in the cardboard recyclers of big retailers. It actually costs money for the retailers to get rid of the boxes, so I'm sure they didn't mind. 
    You could also put them on freecycle or something for those people that need boxes to move!

    • Awww, this makes me kind of sad because Jayden is growing out of the fort-building stage. Now they've probably got spiders in them or something anyway. I remember being SO excited when my parents got some kind of appliance when I was younger because I had an awesome fort.

  3. That's an idea I didn't think of! Thanks for the suggestion. I may look into that.

  4. We recycle almost all of ours, although I usually save 3-4 for Christmas. We don't get that many in the first place though, and most of what we do get aren't very large.

    What about putting a "free boxes" ad up on Craigslist or the grocery store for yours? Or buying a utility knife/box cutter and gong to town?

  5. Rural area + basement + piles of cardboard = mice and spider haven.
    I hate mice.  Spiders are no big deal, but apparently some are deadly.  So, knowing that, I'd throw those things in Mt. Brushmore with a half can of lighter fluid and sing Kumbaya until it's all gone. 

    • I was just thinking the same thing. I can just picture posting an ad on Freecycle for someone to get the for their kids to play in, only to be sued when one of them is bitten by a brown recluse or something.

  6. Post on There's always someone who wants boxes either for moving or for toddler forts. It's a great way to get rid of stuff, help someone else, and be good to the earth.

  7. I simply recycle them, but I guess that's easy for me to say since we have curbside, comingled recycling pickup every week. Sometimes I forget that other parts of the US don't have that yet haha

    My second choice would be to build a really awesome fort. Seems like your pile has potential ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I'm with JT. Burn baby burn. Maybe you could make it a bonding experience with Jay. I know my brothers always liked to set things on fire.

  9. I'd take a box cutter to the big ones and chop them down to size for ye ole pile of combustion. Then use that empty space for something useful instead of as a shelter for displaced boxes. That way you can keep them from building up again.

  10. If nothing else, you should collapse them as they would take up a lot less space. If someone else wants them, they should have no problem re-taping them. 

  11. I'm always surprised when cities/towns don't have recycling programs. It makes me sad =( 

    I don't know what you should do.. I guess burn them but that makes me sad too because it adds insult to injury in an environmental sense, but I actually really like fires.. get some marshmallows and it will be justified.

  12. For some reason, I always keep boxes. Our guest bedroom is filled with them.

  13. It's a poll right?  Burn them, take a picture, and write a post.

    Here we just dispose of them as they come in – no basements in California, haha.

  14. Firstly, I have no issues with you burning them in your back yard. Being from the South too, we understand that people burn things all the time (even in the city limits lol). At times we even burn our entire pasture to "cut the grass" or "clear debris". It works, what can I say.

    Second, if you have any branded boxes like from Mac or Apple or something, you could sell them on eBay. Yes people will buy empty boxes just for the brand. Of course this takes time/effort.

    Third, In my tiny apartment I don't have a basement or much room for empty boxes so I just end up throwing them away. ๐Ÿ™ I should recycle them I guess.

  15. Save yourself the hassle and burn it – that's what I say. I have no idea what the ecological affects of it, but that's my vote.

  16. My complex has those big dumpsters so I don't have to worry about hoarding boxes. They do take up a lot of space very fast.

  17. Haha i think you are the only person with enough cardboard to name it at least of the people that i know! I think burning it would be fun! but that's just me

  18. We have a collection of boxes for moving stashed in a closet, and the rest we are able to recycle right out in our parking lot, so it's really easy. If you can't find anyone that wants them, I'd burn them. It's not really ideal from some points of view, but it would be fun ๐Ÿ™‚ 

  19. Freecycle, Craigslist.. hey, if you want to get rid of some of your stuff, you can have mystery box giveaways here on the site – if you're going somewhat minimalist, it will kill two birds with one stone.  There's always using them to donate to your favorite charities or something – always a need for boxes. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

  20. Call up the local Goodwill, Salvation Army, Homeless Shelter, Food Banks, Second Hand Stores, etc. We donate all of our boxes to these organizations because resale shops, food pantries and other delivery/giving programs tend to use a lot of boxes.

  21. I hoard my boxes.  I love to sell stuff on eBay and other sites, so boxes are like gold to me.  If you've ever had to "buy" a box to ship something, you look at empty boxes like treasure. 

    Another thing I do is keep the large ones around for the cardboard.  This is useful if I'm painting something or if my garage floor is wet and I need to set something out there on a nice, dry surface.

    You don't have to necessarily leave them up all year.  You could break them down and just re-tape them later when needed.  The final resort is always to recycle them.

  22. I always save some for free shipping materials. Never know when that could come in handy. I also see some Crate and Barrel boxes in there. Very good taste!

  23. We throw them in the garage and then when there is room in the recycle bin (that the city picks up once a week)  we cut them up into little pieces and fill our bin up.  It's a terrible system.  It takes forever to clear boxes from events like Christmas. 

  24. My vote is to recycle/donate them. Though burning them may be fun, it's just wasting a resource someone else could use, in my opinion. Maybe burn the worst ones (the ones that got ripped or have too much damage on them) then recycle or donate the rest. 

  25. You could save them to fill when you are decluttering and donating items?

  26. If I can't get rid of the boxes by giving them to those who are moving I break down the large boxes and use the cardboard as mulch in my garden.  After weeding I spread the cardboard out over the dirt, cover with clean dirt and let the cardboard decompose, while stifling some of the more obnoxious weeds and old grass.

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