Do you feel like you’re breaking down boxes every day and running them out to the recycling bin every night? Especially this time of year, the convenience of having goods delivered straight to your home is unparalleled—but the boxes can quickly stack up in overwhelming ways, both in terms of how unsustainable they seem and how annoying they are to get rid of. However, you can reuse your boxes in all kinds of ways around the house that you never thought of. Here are a few household uses for cardboard you should try.
Create more “shelves” in your refrigerator
Use cardboard to create mini “shelves” in your packed fridge, especially during the holiday season. Instead of stacking pies or ingredients right on top of each other, which can dent or flatten the food, cut pieces of cardboard slightly larger than the materials you need to store and slip the sturdy paper goods between your containers to help keep them stable as you stack.
Rake leaves in the yard
This is a tip we’ve advocated for in the past, but it works: Use cardboard like a plow to gather up all your leaves and yard debris in the cooler months. Hack your box into big panels, hold a panel to the ground and push it across your yard for easy raking.
You can use cardboard to make crafts, of course, but you can also use it to clean up when you’re done. Lifehacker’s senior health editor Beth Skwarecki recommends laying down a piece of cardboard to protect your floor or table while your kids get their Picasso on. The best part? When they’re done with their projects, you can just lift the whole thing up and discard.
Protect your floors
Use cardboard as a heavy-duty floor mat in a pinch if your office chair is scuffing your flooring or having trouble gliding across your carpet. The University of Colorado Boulder also recommends cutting cardboard into small pieces and sliding it under the legs of your furniture to protect the flooring or make it easy to move couches, tables, and more.
Also per the University of Colorado Boulder, you can also use old boxes to kill weeds. All you need to do is break the box down, lay it flat over the weeds, wet it with a hose, and cover it with dirt. The weeds will suffer, and you will be happy.
Make your garbage can more functional
Use cardboard to create an insert that helps you keep your garbage bag from slipping inside even the tiniest trash can. This one is a little complicated and requires step-by-step instructions you can find here—but with some measuring, folding, and taping, you can secure the inside of your can so no messes ooze out of a drooping bag.
Fold your laundry
You could buy a laundry-folding device for about $10 on Amazon—or you could use an old Amazon box to make one for free. It’s your choice, really, but it’s an easy one. All you need is an old box and some tape. Watch how to do it here, then prepare to have more space in your drawers.
Store cords, jewelry, or art supplies
This tip, courtesy of Family Handyman, is great because it reuses cardboard from boxes and toilet paper rolls. Grab an old shoe box or small cardboard box and arrange old toilet paper rolls inside of it like a kind-of honeycomb. Each roll can hold a cord, a necklace, sewing tools, art supplies, or whatever else you might have a lot of that needs storing: This is surprisingly versatile.
Entertain cats (and protect furniture)
If your cat is mauling your couch, you may not be in a position to fret over aesthetics and may be inclined to simply tie some cardboard around the base. That’s functional, and we don’t blame you. If you really want to entertain your feline friend, however, Family Handyman recommends cutting cardboard into strips, rolling it into a spiral circle, and sprinkling it with catnip. Your cat will spend time attacking this textured toy, instead of your curtains or Christmas tree.