26 Ways to Reuse Amazon Boxes Instead of Recycling Them

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26 Ways to Reuse Amazon Boxes Instead of Recycling Them

If you feel like one day you’ll be buried alive in a pile of collapsing Amazon boxes, you’re not alone. Many online shoppers (especially during the holiday season) end up digging out piles of corrugated cardboard boxes or find themselves playing box Jenga in the garage.

And sure, you can reduce your online shopping or recycle those Amazon boxes through most curbside recycling programs. But for those with a zero-waste preference, the best option may be to reuse all that cardboard. Here are a few things to consider before you kick cardboard boxes to the curb.

Should you recycle or reuse Amazon boxes?

The American Forest & Paper Association reports that in 2021, US consumers will have recycled 91.4% of domestically produced cardboard boxes or OCC (old corrugated cardboard). However, it’s worth considering how many resources it takes to create and recycle all that cardboard.

Although Amazon has not abandoned the market with the use of cardboard boxes, the online retail giant has:

What to do with Amazon Boxes

Before you break down the dozen Amazon boxes that arrived this week, here are suggestions for putting that corrugated cardboard to good use.

Store, sell or give Amazon boxes to move

This is almost a rule of modern life. Someone always needs more moving boxes. Moving is already a stressful time, so stock up and save some empty boxes or give them to someone in need on Facebook Market.

Ship your own stuff in Amazon Boxes

You can reuse Amazon boxes for your own shipping needs. Before you go to the post office or local UPS location, make sure you’ve followed instructions for how to strip down and reuse a cardboard box for shipping.

  1. Check the box for damage. Make sure your box is sturdy, strong and not cut or the basic structure compromised.
  2. Stick to standard box sizes and recommended weights. If you are shipping with USPS, they recommend not exceeding 130 inches total or 70 pounds.
  3. Remove all barcodes and labels. The post office doesn’t care if the Amazon logo is still visible, but any other identifying information should be removed, especially a shipping label that could confuse scanners.

Use empty Amazon boxes as gift boxes

Some things were not meant to be kept secret. Keep a few extra cardboard boxes on hand so you can neatly hide hard-to-wrap items and gift-wrap them later.

26 Creative ideas for reusing cardboard boxes

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the creative world of recycling cardboard boxes. From compost to cat apartments, there’s something in an Amazon box for everyone.

  1. Compost
  2. Garden seedling tray
  3. Garden kneeler
  4. Weed killer
  5. Bird feeder
  6. Cardboard costumes
  7. Strong
  8. Pinatas
  9. Toy storage
  10. Planes, trains and cars
  11. General arts and crafts
  12. Greeting cards
  13. Coloring or art supply box
  14. Paint drop cloth
  15. Party decor
  16. Storage containers
  17. Pantry organizer
  18. Drawer organizer
  19. Sewing box
  20. Coasters
  21. Magazine storage
  22. Wall art
  23. Drip pan
  24. Cat scratcher
  25. Dog busy box
  26. Cat apartment

5 ways to reuse Amazon boxes in the garden and outdoors

Store boxes while the sun shines and use them to create a healthier garden or to control pests and feed wildlife.

1. Compost

Carbon-rich cardboard is perfectly acceptable for composting, although there is some concern about whether Amazon uses biodegradable ink on their boxes. Tear the box into small pieces and throw them into the compost bin. Remove the shipping label but keep the black tape – it’s also compostable.

Pro Tip

You can also use your Amazon box as an indoor compost bin, a gardening method that is very popular in Japan.

2. Garden sowing board

While you may house your budding plants in yogurt containers or egg cartons, Amazon boxes make great containers for organizing and carrying seedlings or storing packets of seeds for the winter.

3. Garden kneeler

You can pay a pretty penny for a soft knee pad on Amazon that will save your knees but fall off within a season. Or you could be thrifty and repurpose an Amazon box, because who doesn’t love free?

4. Herbicide

If you have an outdoor spot where those pesky weeds just won’t give a hint, lay a broken-down Amazon box on the ground and starve them of sunlight. Just beware that it will kill everything else underneath too, so stay away from your precious flower beds.

5. Bird feeder

These box feeders are for the birds. Literally. Let the kids lend a hand to make upcycled bird feeders out of cardboard boxes, twigs, twine, bird seed and some nut butter.

5 ways to reuse Amazon boxes for the kids

If you’ve ever seen children get more joy out of the box than the gift, you’ll understand how a box can become a precious toy.

6. Cardboard costumes

Start brainstorming, and you’ll end up with a pretty long list of fun ways cardboard can become costumes. Helmets, shields, robots, jet packs. Your kids will be glad you kept a few boxes on hand for some rainy day inspiration.

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7. Forts

The bigger the Amazon box, the more fun your kids will have making it into a fort. While large appliance boxes are ideal for this, you can also encourage children to break down Amazon boxes into flat pieces of cardboard and glue them together to make walls and roofs.

8. Piñatas

It’s not a party unless someone brings the piñata. If it isn’t a saying, it should be. You can make your own—like this DIY popcorn box piñata—from an old Amazon box. Just add a pair of scissors and some papier-mache magic.

9. Toy storage

If you have a set of toys with smaller pieces that keep getting lost, collect them in an Amazon toy box that you can store safely in a closet. Think railroad sets, legos, stuffed animal collections and more.

10. Planes, trains and cars

An Amazon box is just a vehicle for little imaginations. With a marker and some construction paper and scissors, you can turn boxes into cars, planes, trains, or even rockets like the one in this Popular Mechanics tutorial.

5 Ways to Repurpose Amazon Boxes for Crafts

If you’re smart, chances are you’ve put at least one Amazon box to good use on a DIY project. Here are a few reasons to make those cardboard boxes into your craft closet.

11. General arts and crafts

Cardboard is a centerpiece of many art projects, so it’s essential to have a supply on hand along with plenty of paper products. From providing backing for fragile displays to making frames or shadow boxes, cardboard is an artist’s best friend.

12. Greeting cards

Corrugated cardboard may not be your first choice for creating greeting cards, but start thinking outside the envelope. Amazon boxes can become stand-up examples of 3-D maps or giant maps to convey special messages.

13. Color or art supply box

Keeping supplies organized can be a real challenge for artists and crafters. Enter a DIY craft organizer or a coloring box stocked with all your supplies made from an old Amazon box. You can even add dividers by inserting additional pieces of cardboard cut to size.

14. Paint Drop Cloth

Art is messy work. Fortunately, Amazon boxes can double as drop cloths to save your carpet and furniture. Simply fold or cut to make sure the mess ends up on the cardboard and not on your floor.

15. Party Decor

Skip the expensive supplies and get the party started with some cardboard cutout decor. Think signs, letters, banners and even life-size displays. You name it, cardboard can do it. All you need is paint and a little creativity.

A person puts old magazines in a cardboard box.
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8 Ways to Repurpose Amazon Boxes for Home Organization and Decor

Stop Amazon box crawling in its tracks with these creative ideas to reduce clutter around the house by reusing cardboard.

16. Storage containers

An easy solution to organizational problems is to use your old Amazon boxes to store household items. Just remember that you don’t have to go basic with your storage boxes. Think of decorated boxes that you will find good to display. You can paint, paper or cover boxes with fabric or contact paper to create a fun look.

17. Pantry organization

Tame that pantry chaos with some boxes designed to reduce clutter. Store all your baking supplies or everything you need for popcorn on movie night in one handy box that’s within easy reach.

18. Drawer organizer

Paying for drawer organizers seems silly when you have the perfect solution for DIY dividers or inserts. Cut up some cardboard boxes and make little cubes and trays for kitchenware, clothes and even bathroom supplies.

19. Sewing box

Grab that glue gun because this DIY sewing box is mostly free and totally awesome. Glue circles of corrugated cardboard together, apply paint and even make a circular lid with some hardware and a little ingenuity.

20. Coasters

If you’re tired of seeing furniture stained by water rings, grab some shipping boxes and start tracing and cutting to make custom pillows. Many baseboards are made of cork, but flat cardboard that is free of staples and tape should not scratch your furniture.

21. Magazine storage

Why pay $20 for a set of magazine storage boxes when you already have Amazon boxes that you can refurbish for the same purpose? This magazine storage guide uses USPS Priority Mail boxes, but you can also use Amazon boxes of a similar size.

22. Mural art

You know what they say. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. There are a huge variety of ways to use old cardboard boxes to create abstract art, geometric wall hangings, nature-inspired art, craft frames or use as a background for other art pieces.

23. Drip pan

Under the sink or in the garage, cardboard boxes can save floors, shelves and other surfaces from damage. Simply break it down and slide it under wherever you’re likely to experience a disaster – or need to protect a surface – and let the cardboard catch the drip.

A cat sleeps on a cardboard cat scratcher.
Getty Images

3 Ways to Repurpose Amazon Boxes for Pets

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Amazon boxes can be used as more than just hiding places for pets.

24. Cat Scratcher

Give your cat a place to practice claw maintenance with a DIY corrugated cat scratcher. It can be as simple as stacking and gluing pieces of cardboard together or creating a more intricate design like this circular cardboard cat scratcher.

25. Dog Busy Box

Your dog is always interested in sniffing around boxes for a reason. For most dogs, this is an instinctive eating habit built into their breed. Give them the satisfaction of a DIY dog busy box that will provide extra enrichment and prevent doggie boredom.

26. Cat Condo

Last but not least, what better than using a cardboard box to start your own colony of cat apartments? Meow can’t seem to cover these cat-like fortresses and towers made entirely out of cardboard boxes with cutouts and tubes.

How to Recycle Amazon Boxes

Sometimes the best solution to all those Amazon boxes is to kick them to the curb as fodder for your local recycling program. Make sure you are aware of which parts of Amazon’s packaging can be recycled and how to sort each type into the bin where it belongs.

For example, the paper mailers with the bubble wrap inserts must be thrown in the trash, but Amazon cardboard boxes are recyclable in their entirety, including that trademark black packing tape.

Kaz Weida is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.


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