Of all the hassles that come with moving — packing, unpacking, loading, unloading, and the chaos in between — one of my least favorite parts is finding boxes. In fact, when we moved here, I so dreaded the search for boxes for our next move that I crammed all of our cardboard boxes into a closet in the guest bedroom where I’ve kept them for three years.
Finding the perfect moving box is an art. It needs to be sturdy, big enough to hold a decent number of items, but not so big that it will be too heavy to carry. Handles on the sides are a plus, and a blank side for labeling helps, too.
If you’re planning a move and you find yourself with no moving boxes, it can be tempting to pay a fortune to a moving company or retail store for an assortment of boxes. Don’t do it! It’s possible to find moving boxes for free, and reusing them is much more environmentally friendly than buying new. Here’s where to start:
Ask friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.
Some work places have a greater volume of boxes than others (I used to work at a publishing company that had a surplus of excellent moving boxes shipped in every week). Even if you don’t work at a retail store or publishing company, send out an email requesting that your co-workers hang on to good moving boxes for you. Also notify friends, family, and neighbors that you’re moving soon. They may have boxes they’re willing to give up or loan to you.
Ask your local recycling center.
Many recycling centers have a special area for cardboard boxes that can be used for moving. Show up early Sunday morning (or first thing Monday if the recycling center is closed on Sundays). If your recycling center has them, they’re likely free to a good home.
It’s become pretty common for people to list stockpiles of moving boxes on Craigslist for free or cheap once they’ve moved in. Just be cautious when completing Craigslist transactions. If you can’t meet in a public place, bring some friends along to help you load the boxes.
Don’t dumpster dive.
Many retail stores and businesses have special cardboard dumpsters for recycling purposes, but digging through dumpsters without permission is actually considered trespassing. Not only can you get hurt, but you can be fined. Instead of jumping into a dumpster, ask businesses if they’re willing to let you take boxes before they end up in the dumpster. You might have to show up on a certain day and time, but many business owners don’t mind giving away used boxes on a first come, first serve basis.