I am a hoarder of cardboard. I admit to having boxes filled with boxes filled with other boxes filled with more boxes.
When we lived in Florida recycling was so easy. Even when we lived on the military base our first three years in Alaska, recycling was so easy. They give you a separate can, come pick it up. For free. But one of the bummers about living far out of town like we do now is that recycling is a lot of extra work. It isn’t free. The pick up services are not well maintained. The recycling center to drop off at is thirty minutes away. In the winter it’s not very awesome to drive with a truck bed full of cardboard in blowing snow and negative temperatures. And winter here is loooong.
I still save cans and glass because those items don’t accumulate as fast and it can take a month to fill enough bags to make a worth while trip to the recycling center. But the cardboard. Oh the cardboard. Amazon subscriptions. Costco shopping. Food boxes. Stuff boxes. My husband loathes cardboard. A lot of it becomes fire starter.
Looking at our collection of boxes every week I started thinking there was more we could do than burn, throw away, or fill the entire woodshed until spring. So I started coming up with projects and ideas to put this handy material to good use.
My children love to paint when I paint. And when I’m using canvas they don’t want to use paper and I don’t blame them. If they want to use acrylic paint along side me to create a piece of art, they need more than construction paper. But canvas isn’t cheap. So I started cutting down the thicker corrugated boxes into flat panels and saving the panels for the younger kids to use as their very own “canvas.” Sometimes I even make sure to have some gessoed and white for them but other times (especially the two year old) they are perfectly happy with brown. They love having their own canvas and because we have such an abundance and it free, it’s not a big deal if we have mistakes, do overs, or even if they want to paint a dozen pictures in a day.
I’ve also come up with some sculpture projects.
More recently I started saving the light weight boxes from food. I’ve been using these to make hand bound journals and blank books. With Waldorf homeschooling we learned book binding years ago and it was so much fun to put that skill to work creating these sweet little books. Each cover is hand illustrated. To keep with the recycled theme I filled them with recycled manila paper and used buttons from old clothes for the closures.
I originally intended just to make them for my daughters but I shared a photo of them and people started messaging me to buy them. I now have five different sizes available on my Etsy store.
So if you find yourself swimming in cardboard try and think outside the box. You just may turn trash into treasure.