Cardboard, Cardboard, Cardboard. Our world is full of it. From the millions of boxes used to fulfill our online shopping addiction to cereal boxes and packing material, cardboard really crops up.
For many of us, when a cardboard item comes into our home, our initial reaction is to toss it willy nilly into the recycling bin as soon as we’re through with it. It’s been drilled into us that recycling is the savior of our consumption problems. But in the end, recycling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
While recycling is an incredible process that has changed the way we handle certain types of waste (mainly paper), it has a dark side of its own that should cause you to rethink just how often you use the service.
The Dark Side of Recycling
Recycling requires an immense amount of energy to take care of the mountains of material we throw at it, and it produces a lot of pollutants–both from the recycling plants themselves and all of the recycling collection vehicles that make their rounds in our cities weekly. Recycling plants are among the top polluters of our nation. A little bit ironic don’t you think?
But that’s not the half of it.
Recycling is not a perfect science by any means. And when items of two types end up combined in the same recycling process (say, spray can bottles and soda cans), toxic chemicals can spread where we don’t want them to. Recycling can also be prohibitively expensive, recreate low-quality products and cause chemicals to leach into local soils.
Recycling is a bit of a ‘catch 22′ in the sense that it convinces us it’s okay to buy too much and be too wasteful. It encourages insane consumption, rather than empowering us to do more with what we already have.
With that in mind, it becomes all the more important for us to limit our consumption of things that come over-packaged and find alternatives, then to find ways to reuse the cardboard before it ever hits our recycling bin.
Here’s what you can do instead!
I’ve done my best to pull together a number of reuse ideas for cardboard and paperboard that are usable and should fit into your daily life. By using these ideas, you’ll be taking a step toward protecting the environment, limit overcrowding of cardboard in your home and save money that was previously used to purchase items that these creations will replace.
1. Save large pieces for your children’s school projects and posters in place of buying new poster board.
2. Create handmade greeting cards, envelopes or gift tags like these ones!
3. Keep easy-to-cut sections of paperboard for craft projects of all sorts.
4. Make a cat scratching post for your adorable feline.
5. Trim boxes into drawer organizers.
6. Make your own paint palette. Bonus: Use milk jug caps for the paint!
7. Collect large boxes for an upcoming move. No need to buy.
8. Create an indoor planter for windowsill herbs or flowers.
9. Keep a range of sizes that are ideal for mailing packages. Never buy boxes at the post office again! You can also use cardboard as padding.
10. Create a coupon filing system.
11. Make storage totes via this amazing tutorial from Brit + Co!
12. Retain boxes that are still in good shape to serve as gift boxes at Christmas and reuse them for years to come.
13. Make a bird feeder like this.
14. If you’re really ambitious, get crafty and make one of these gorgeous wall sculptures.
15. Create party decor like this.
Originally published for Care2 at: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/15-creative-re-uses-for-cardboard.html