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Is your house suddenly full of cardboard? Here are some ideas for how to use it.


The holidays are here, and for a lot of people that means there are suddenly many, many cardboard boxes piled up around the house.

I called up someone who is way overqualified to talk about the problem. Amy Butler is head of sustainability at Michigan State University

“I use boxes a ton,” she laughs.

Butler says there are lots of creative ways to re-use the boxes in your home.

“You can put contact paper on them and make them into baskets,” she says. “You can put them together into shelves. You can use them to store things in. There’s a number of different ideas.”

Butler says one great place to look for ideas is YouTube, where you can find videos like this one, and learn how to make cardboard shelves: 

Another idea: Save the cardboard for the spring, when you can use it in your garden: 

Butler says another option is to post online for someone else to pick up the boxes.

MSU also has a highly regarded School of Packaging. Butler says maybe in the future there will be some better packaging options.

“I think that there will be opportunities for them to look at lighter weight, more durable or recyclable materials, or reusable materials,” Butler says. "I think that’s something that’s constantly being looked at.”

But if you can’t wait, and if you’re all out of crafty ideas, you can still recycle all that cardboard. If you’re out of room in your household bin, you can fill up the car and take it to your local recycling center in person.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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