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Cardboard Boxes in the Times of Home Delivery

Updated: Feb 9, 2022

“There were 131 billion parcels shipped worldwide in 2020, according to Pitney Bowes. The figure tripled in the past six years and is expected to double again in the next five.”

Katharina Buchholz, Data Journalist, Statista, Sep 28, 2021

Do you remember when getting a package of any sort dropped on your doorstep was the highlight of the week or maybe the month or year? Well, times have certainly changed. With the rise in popularity of home delivery services for just about anything you could ever need also comes the pile up of cardboard boxes in our homes.

It’s a constant challenge in my house where I live with my two grown daughters, one of whom is away at college most of the year. Deliveries seem to arrive every day. Aside from the random things we order each month we also receive recurring deliveries from StitchFix, Chewy, vitamins, Monat, need I go on….the list does! I no longer feel excited about packages but immediately think….oh no another cardboard box.

I’ll admit once in a while having a good empty box around in the perfect size for whatever it is you need to box up and ship out is so convenient. But, saving every box for that purpose can become a huge cluttered mess, and a ton of work when you decide to finally break them down. I have had stacks of boxes in my basement and garage piled up so high that it took two hours to break them all down and prep them for recycling day. And let’s not forget to mention the dilemma of the packaging materials. Popcorn, air filled bags and styrofoam present another challenge. Here is how I have started to get control of a situation that I don’t see going away anytime soon.

  • First, I have several good box cutters and a good roll of twine. My town asks that large cardboard boxes be broken down and tied up for recycling day.

  • Second, I only store about 4-5 boxes in my basement. I keep a few boxes that are in the best condition in various sizes. I try to keep ones that fit inside of each other so they take up as little space as possible.

  • The real trick here is not falling behind. It is best to break down the box when you open it. Cut all the taped areas and fold it down. In my case I sometimes need to cut it further to meet the town requirements.

  • Then I put all of the packing materials in the trash or recycle bin. I have a large basket in my office that has a supply of packing peanuts that I use occasionally and I might save a few pieces of bubble wrap if it is small and in good condition.

  • Once I have discarded the packing materials and broken down the box I carry it out to my garage and put it behind my recycling bins so it is ready to be taken out when the bins go out.

I have found that sticking to this routine as best as possible has made the cardboard box clutter in my home so much more manageable. Sometimes I may need to keep a box around for a while to make sure I don’t need to ship the item back to the vendor but after a week or so I will break it down. Remember, there will always be another box I can use if need be.

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