Drowning in a Sea of Cardboard? - Curb•It
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Drowning In A Sea Of Cardboard?

A few practices to counteract the online shopping cardboard tsunami

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You have the best of intentions to buy locally and to reduce consumption, but you also find that more and more of what you need is online. And everything comes in boxes. A pair of socks, a new tip for the air pump so you can get the basketball ready for summer. Even our couches and mattresses arrive in boxes now.

There is no end in site. It is not simply the big guys like Amazon and Walmart, either. Here in Portland, as in most major cities, you can find all your local small businesses online. You don’t have to pay for parking when you shop online, and getting around town just to nab a new pair of earbuds before your next run is an annoyance many of us look to avoid.

This blog is not an attempt to solve the major environmental ramifications of our online shopping habits. We’ll save that for another day. This is a look at a few things you can do to avoid drowning in a sea of boxes and packaging materials.

I recently moved homes. We had been living out in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, and when we had our first child, we quickly learned that our local stores didn’t carry everything we needed to keep him happy and healthy. I remember walking out to the garage just half a year after he was born. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I surveyed the piles of boxes. How could one small addition to the family make such a huge impact on our trash and waste output?

You would think we would have learned –– started to break down boxes and make regular trips to the recycler. We did not. As we moved to Portland just months ago with our now three-year-old boy, I again had a moment of incredible anxiety and stress as I looked at the cleanup job in the garage. That’s when it occurred to me that almost everything we own arrived in a cardboard box.

You can avoid my fate. I would like to say that as we filled out this space and unpacked the boxes in our new home, we broke them down and stacked them neatly before making a few quick trips to the recycling center. Instead, I was so exhausted from cleaning and hauling the junk from our old place that I basically opened the back door of the moving van and placed something like 100 boxes full of stuff we didn’t need right away into our new garage storage space.

If you don’t want to end up with a major anxious breakdown as you survey your junk removal problem, try a few of these practices

Break Down the Boxes and Stay on Top of Things

Yes, you can fit most of your cardboard recycling into your curbside recycling bin, but only if you truly stay on top of the problem. When we are doing things right in our house, we go so far as to unpack and unwrap every little thing we buy as soon as it comes into the house –– groceries included. That way we don’t end up with wrappers and tiny boxes from a hundred different items.


Utilize a Junk Removal App

I love Go Trashy. As I empty out boxes from our move or as we swap out our old couch for our new one, we can simply photograph our junk, get our price, and watch as a hauler takes it away to be upcycled, recycled, or disposed of. I wish I had these folks when I was trying to get rid of two old window AC units and a few half empty cans of paint last year.


Purchase Multiple Items in One Order

The box-inside-the-box paradox is one I will never fully understand. Why did they box the watch and then box the watch box? The watch was already in a case! My wife and I are guilty of frequently failing to communicate our purchases. She will order the light bulbs we need and a day later I’m ordering a different bulb for the office space. With the box-inside-the-box paradox, the problem gets multiplied. Order items together, from the same seller. You will drastically reduce your junk problem.


I now have a monthly schedule set up to remind me it’s time to use the Go Trashy app. They can take the boxes and all the other junk –– sofas, TVs, bikes –– and upcycle or recycle them. You photograph it, get your price, and they send you a local hauler to take your stuff.



Go Trashy is on-demand junk removal
You snap a pic of the stuff you want gone
You get upfront prices from background-checked Providers
You select your Hauler and your stuff is gone within hours