Whether you’re moving to a new home or just moving your stuff into storage, finding sturdy, suitable boxes are essential.
You could go out and buy brand new cardboard boxes. They’re not that expensive, right? Not so fast. Once you start adding up the boxes you’ll need, expect the price to start adding up as well.
Thankfully, you’re not the only one out there who uses boxes, and most of those people are eager for others to take them away.
If you’d like to offer up a karma-filled favor—and save some serious dough in the process—check out our seven favorite places to pick up great, high-quality moving boxes for free.
Liquor stores get many shipments of beer, wine, and spirits per month. This almost guarantees they’ll have some extra containers on-hand. Those boxes also take up precious space that the store would surely rather fill with inventory.
For quality, liquor store boxes are also some of the best. After all, they were built to carry heavy items, and those items rarely damage the boxes. These liquor store boxes might not be the biggest, but they’ll be perfect for smaller, fragile loads like plates, glasses, china, etc.
Friends and Neighbors
You’d be shocked at how many people have perfectly good boxes sitting in their basement and collecting dust. Not only are they going to waste, but they’re filling up their homes. Just by asking around, you’ll likely find plenty of friends, family, and co-workers who will be thrilled to get those old boxes of their hands.
Grocery stores often have recycling dumpsters in the back specifically for discarded boxes. Only for boxes, these are oftentimes less gross than you’d imagine. With a steady stream of goods coming through the grocery store, it’s also a stable box resource.
The big con with grocery store boxes? Well, we didn’t say they were always less gross. There’s no stopping an exploded shipment of eggs or leaking milk cartons from seeping into its own box and the boxes around it.
Therefore, on a good day, it’s hard to beat a grocery store. But on a bad day? I hope you brought your hazmat suit.
Fast Food Restaurants
We know what you’re probably thinking: “If we were just warned about grocery store grossness, then fast food boxes must be awful.”
Surprisingly, that’s not always the case!
For example, french fries usually come in large, well-sealed shipments with each order packaged in a large box. Since they’re shipped frozen and bagged in plastic, there’s not much to seep through. These are usually pristine boxes for moving.
Fast food restaurants often have recycling dumpsters as well. As always, make sure to ask first!
The Neighborhood Dumpster
Ok. Now you must think we’re insane. But hear us out.
You’d be absolutely shocked at how pristine those thrown-out boxes can be. Now, we won’t suggest you grab any old discarded box you find in the alleyway. However, there’s no harm in scouring dumpsters, especially near homes and apartment complexes, for boxes that might as well be good as new, and totally free.
Just think—unlike grocery stores, most boxes delivered to homes are usually food-free. Instead, they likely contained less-icky items like furniture, electronics, or an impulse buy from Amazon.
Lastly, since many of these boxes were built to ship, they’re typically sturdy enough to make it through a move.
Do you work in an office, or know people who do? Then you’re getting close to the motherlode of a cardboard box gold rush.
As most offices regularly get shipped a plethora of items from staplers to copiers, they stand as one of the prime destinations to snag great, high-quality boxes.
If you’re an employee, just chat with the facilities manager about your needs. There’s a good chance they’ll have no problem helping out a coworker. If you’re lucky (and really nice), they might even guide you in the direction to find the perfect boxes for your particular needs.
Not only do offices provide access to a vast variety of boxes, but you also won’t be forced to deal with gross fast food sauces or garbage residue. They might not all be as sturdy as ones you’d get from the liquor store, but they’ll surely offer more options.
Natural Grocers is a growing grocery chain that, instead of packing up items in bags, uses their own discarded shipping boxes as each customer’s take-home caddy.
If this store hasn’t made it to your area yet, worry not. There’s likely another similar shop near you that does the same. Look for smaller, health-conscious food stores and co-ops as this method of “grocery boxing” is meant to cut down on paper and plastic bag waste.
Now, we’re not suggesting you purchase a moving truck’s worth of groceries in a day to come up with enough boxes to pack up your things. Instead—especially if you already frequent stores like these—start collecting them a couple of months before the big move so you have plenty once it’s time to start packing.