Lessons from The Junk Man (me)

David Bellm

January 29, 2014

3 Min Read
Lessons from The Junk Man (me)


As you may have gathered from some of my posts, I’m a “collector.” I like old stuff. But sometimes the line between “collector” and “Lord of Junk” is mighty thin indeed. That in mind, a few weeks ago I came to the conclusion that my basement is so disgustingly cluttered that it was obvious that I had crossed the line between the two — the place was a mess.

Amid the pure Junque and Grade A put-it-out-on-the-curb type fodder was a lot of stuff that’s surely still useful … to someone. But it wasn’t valuable enough to get so much of a nibble in a Craigslist ad or eBay listing. (Believe me — I gave it a shot)

So I figured I’d donate it to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Their resale shops do a booming business this time of year. And by doing that, at least SOME good comes of my clutter — tossing it into the bin is pretty much zero gain aside from the warm fuzzy feeling of recycling.

Okay, simple enough. But then I quickly discovered that I didn’t have any boxes to even load the stuff into a car with. And stopping at a few retail stores to nab some free boxes proved fruitless — big chains have gotten so much better about recycling corrugated that they break their boxes down and bale them right away.

So I was in the uncomfortable position of actually buying brand-new boxes from Home Depot just so I could fill them with books and drive them two miles down the road to a thrift store.

In truth, the cost wasn’t all that much money. And it’s no worse than buying garbage bags for the purpose of throwing things out. But it just seemed kind of odd. Boxes should be one of the easiest things in the world to reuse, if they were still readily available.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. I got an interesting email today from a company called UsedCardboardBoxes.com They buy corrugated boxes from companies, and then sell them to individuals for moving …

Or perhaps for clearing out crap-infested basements, in my case.

It seems like a good idea. According to their website, they pay more than recyclers pay for such boxes, which is a key benefit the way recycled-materials prices have been. If it works out as well as they say, it looks like a good way to pair excess supply with a known demand - with a decent amount of eco-responsibility thrown in there.

Granted, any sort of Green benefits from it depend largely on what happens after the boxes are reused once. But hey, it’s a good start.

Here’s what the company says:

$40 billion of boxes are sold in the US each year. These usually get discarded in a landfill or shipped to China to be made into another cardboard box. The box manufacturing and recycling process uses chemicals, dyes and inks and consumes energy. The alternative is used cardboard boxes!

UsedCardboardBoxes.com works with Fortune 500 companies to pick up their clean and sturdy used cardboard boxes. The boxes are inspected and then packaged into an assortment of moving kits for houses, offices and apartments. Each moving kit comes with tape, recycled packing paper, markers and a box cutter. Delivery is free in the Continental US and customers usually receive their moving kits (starting at $38.00) within 1-2 business days.



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