Mention moving house and a few images will immediately spring to mind. One of them – I’m willing to bet – will be a pile of cardboard boxes.
Cardboard boxes are ideal for removals. The reasons they’re used are exactly the same as those that make them perfect for e-commerce businesses as well; they’re durable, lightweight, prevent moisture from getting at contents and also, relatively inexpensive. Cardboard boxes can be reused numerous times, but they’re also happy to sit in a loft for fifty years. Even better, at the end of their very long, very sustainable lifespan, they’re completely biodegradable.
Are you looking for low cost boxes? Our new boxes for moving house start from as low as £12 per pack.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody then, that The Packaging Club loves the humble cardboard box so much. And of course, such is our admiration, that we make a business out of selling them in all their wonderful varieties. That said, however, when it comes to moving house, we don’t think you should buy any. Not even from us! Far better (and far more environmentally friendly) to reuse and recycle by picking them up for free.
If you’re using a removal company to get to your new pad, bear in mind that most will supply you with cardboard boxes as part of their service. Even better, they’ll come and collect them for you once you’ve unpacked and pass them onto their next customers.
But if you’re not using a removal company, if you’re doing the packing, the transporting and the unloading yourself, then how can you get your hands on a supply of good quality cardboard boxes for free? It shouldn’t be too hard. Read on for our suggestions.
When I was growing up, it was quite usual to see a variety of cardboard boxes stacked up at the end of the check out and you could just help yourself to the one that seemed most appropriate for what you’d bought. Alas, no more, not since the rise of the bag for life in any case. However, this doesn’t mean that supermarkets don’t have any boxes. In fact, they have shedloads, arising, of course, from the fact that they have multiple deliveries numerous times a day.
It's therefore worth asking your local supermarket staff if they have any boxes you could have for free. At the end of the day, there are no company-wide policies that address this issue (as far as we can see) and it will all come down to your local store’s discretion, but both Tesco and Aldi encourage customers not to be backwards in coming forwards (and are even happy for people to grab a box instead of paying for a carrier bag or bag for life when they’re simply doing their shopping).
Coffee shops are another place you might want to try your luck, because, like supermarkets, they have large amounts of stock delivered on a regular basis. Just make sure you specify what size of box you’re after (i.e., small, medium or large).
The great thing about getting cardboard boxes from a coffee shop is you can use the opportunity to order a large cappuccino and a chocolate muffin as well, or maybe one of those nice lemon tart things. So, it’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.
Another win-win comes from off-licences. Wine and spirits arrive in boxes which are sturdy, so they'll be in plentiful supply at off-licences and if you then take a load of their hands, it’s one bit of recycling and disposal with which they don’t have to concern themselves.
Make sure you ask for boxes with lids (or ones that have flaps that you can tape shut). And, whilst there, buy a couple of bottles with which to toast your new home. Just a suggestion.
Don’t forget that many other retailers get regular deliveries and asking for free cardboard boxes costs absolutely nothing apart from a minute of your time. Most retailers will have to recycle their boxes in order to get rid of the near constant stream, so it will probably be no skin off their nose to give you a pile.
Depending on what’s in your area, here are a few of the places you could try:
Garden centres are a great place to source cardboard boxes. Many still put a load out by the checkouts so that customers are able to get their plant purchases home without damaging the plant or spilling soil in their car boots.
Just make sure that the boxes haven’t been weakened by watering or damp soil. No one likes a soggy bottom and a soggy bottom on a cardboard box is a disaster.
Most towns these days, small or large, will be ‘blessed’ with an area set aside for fast food restaurants and drive-thrus. I’ve put ‘blessed’ in inverted commas because I’m in two minds about it all. Junk food’s one of life’s lovely guilty pleasures, but I still peer fondly back through my rose-tinted spectacles to the days when independent shops filled the high street and we only went to MacDonald’s once a year on my brother’s birthday. However, if you’re on the scrounge for free cardboard boxes, this could be a very rich hunting ground.
If you work at a school, have a child at school (or know someone who does), it’s always worth asking politely at the front office as to whether they have any boxes they could give you. Schools get through an awful lot of photocopying paper, paper towels and loo roll. They use a huge amount of stationery. They also get deliveries for their kitchens and canteens. So, the chances are, a site manager would be happier giving empty boxes away rather than having to flatten them out and stack them in the green bin.
Top tip: Avoid asking at busy times (like registration or the end of the school day). You’re more likely to get a positive response if you approach the office staff when they’re not dealing with anxious parents, forgotten lunchboxes or having to print out – for the 600th time - the form for Wednesday’s netball club that so-and-so forgot again.
Freecycle is a non-profit, grass roots organisation that helps people to give stuff away and to acquire stuff for free. It aims to drastically reduce what’s put into landfill and membership is, as its name would suggest, completely free!
A quick search on Freecycle and I already found two posts offering free cardboard boxes specifically for removals for pick up within ten miles of my front door.
As with Freecycle, searching on Facebook Marketplace takes a matter of seconds. I tried it and liked the fact that I could sort out my search by filtering the results so those nearest to my location were listed first. Just be aware that, unlike Freecycle, there are pesky sponsored posts to sift through.
Gumtree is, as many of us already know, the first site in the UK where you can post classified ads for free. Stands to reason then that if you’re having a look on Freecycle and Facebook Marketplace for free cardboard boxes, you may also want to try your luck here. It’s easy to enter your search criteria: you just type in your postcode and specify the distance you’re willing to travel on the lefthand side of the home page. I didn’t have any luck on this occasion, but from past experience, I know it’s worth checking every few days to see if something crops up.
Once you’ve got hold of your free cardboard boxes using one, several or all of the means we’ve suggested and once your move is done and dusted and you’ve finally unpacked, please don’t forget to do your bit for the environment and recycle your boxes. If you’re hanging onto them for storage, that’s great, but if not, try and pass them on to someone else who might need them, someone else who's relocating, for example. Perhaps your children might benefit from playing with them (check out the inspiring story of Cain, right here). Alternatively, you might just want to put the move behind you as quickly as possible and get sorted out and tidied up.
There are so many ways you can reuse a box without actually throwing it away, but when all’s said and done, if you can’t find a continued use for your moving boxes and you want them out of your hair, you can recycle them easily and painlessly. Check out this website which gives advice on all aspects of recycling as well as how to go about finding your local recycling centre.
There you have it. Ten viable ways to get your hands on cardboard boxes for nothing. They really are the best option when it comes to moving a whole variety of possessions to a new home. Relocating is expensive enough, there are a million and one associated costs, so you might as well save costs when it comes to packing and get your cardboard boxes for free.