Whether you're moving, renting a self-storage unit or storage trailer, or simply packing some old items into your attic, you may want to give some thought to the receptacles you use to store things in. Cardboard boxes are a common choice, but did you know that there are a number of decisions you can make while selecting your cardboard boxes that can change how your move affects the environment? Buying new cardboard boxes is the least eco-friendly choice (and can also be a non-budget-friendly choice), but you can choose between recycled boxes and pre-used boxes if you want a more eco-friendly option. Sourcing pre-used boxes can be an even more eco-friendly idea than simply buying boxes with recycled content in them. Here are four reasons why.
1. Recycled boxes often aren't as "recycled" as you think
Unless it says "post-consumer," the recycled content may just mean that they used waste content from other products at the plant or mill to make their cardboard boxes. And while re-using this material is more eco-friendly than throwing it away, it's also free material. Of course they're using it. When you think of "recycled" products, you're probably thinking of products that were actually made from previously existing products that were sold to customers and then returned for recycling. Not everything that claims to be "recycled" fits this description.
2. Recycling is still a process.
You can pick up cardboard boxes on your weekly trip to the grocery store and be sure that they've encountered zero processing since their last use. But if the box is returned for recycling instead of re-used, it'll have to be processed down into paper pulp and then manufactured into new products. Less manufacturing is required than for new material, but it's still a much more involved process than simple re-use.
3. Less transportation and distribution is required.
Materials returned for recycling have to be transported to the recycling facility, then transported to the manufacturing plant and finally distributed for resale. You can keep it local by skipping the recycling step and re-using someone else's boxes, thus reducing the emissions produced by and the energy required for all this transportation.
4. You can keep boxes out of the landfill.
Some businesses are environmentally responsible and send their cardboard boxes in for recycling, but others may simply send them to the landfill. If you find one of these businesses and re-use their boxes, you can keep the boxes from being sent to the landfill. You can then re-use them many times over before finally having them recycled.
These four reasons demonstrate how re-use can save even more energy, materials, and trees than simply buying boxes with recycled content in them. It can also be friendly on your pocket, since you can often obtain used boxes for absolutely free.