The Story of the Empty Boxes: May be time to Rethink the Box

I remember in the mid to late 1990’s when my family purchased our first computer.  It was a Gateway computer and it came in giant boxes covered in a cow print.  After the computer was unpacked and assembled the boxes went up to the attic…and they proceeded to stay there for a very long time.  If I remember correctly, the next computer purchased by my family was also a Gateway and it too arrived in giant cow print boxes.  Those boxes also went to the attic.  Are you seeing a trend?

How many of us are guilty of holding onto boxes from items we recently purchased? As you can see, it was a behavior I learned from my parents.  The rationale to the best I recall, was that in the event there was something wrong with the product, it would be easier to mail or transport it back to the manufacturer. It was a source of insurance if you will.  The problem with this type of insurance is that even after the computer was replaced, the empty boxes still lived on, taking up space in the attic. 

Many years later in an effort to help my parents sort and weed the contents of their attic these boxes resurfaced.  Being so many years removed it was easy to identify the contents as trash and recycling and move them out of the space.  However, for so many years the visual overwhelm of seeing the space consumed with these large boxes was not just overwhelming to look at but contributed to an overall sense of clutter. 

What is the solution here?  I understand that there is some comfort in retaining boxes from recent purchases in the event something goes wrong.  Can a compromise be made?  What if a sticky note went on the box(es) when a new item is purchased with the month and year it would be ok to allow the box to be recycled?  Maybe that is one month from the date of purchase, maybe closer to six months – the choice is yours.  I would encourage you to take it a step further and put the date of re-evaluation on your calendar as well.  If you’re like me, the home for the empty box will not likely be in plain sight therefore you will need a little reminder to reconsider. 

More often than not, in the event you are traveling and need to bring this item, you already have a safe way of transporting it. Packing supply stores provide bubble wrap and papers to protect an item in a fresh box should that be needed as well.  A question we often ask at Living Peace is, “is this something that could be reproduced if you needed it?” Chances are you will not be able to purchase Styrofoam cut to the exact shape of your item, but other products could produce a very satisfactory runner up if needed (and in reality, how often do you actually need the boxes?)

Some food for thought.  Could you start to let go of some empty boxes from previous purchases? Think of the space, both physical and mental, you could open by letting them go.  Let me know how it goes in the comments below. 


About Hillary Adams Case

Hillary believes you should never have to question where your keys are; everything has a home. After helping friends and family to get organized for years, they finally encouraged her to make professional organizing her career. Committed to always learning new skills and techniques, Hillary is constantly expanding the ideas she brings to working with her clients. With a joy and passion for finding “Green” solutions, Hillary is delighted to help clients find ways to dispose of items through recycling and donation in order to live lighter on our planet. When not working as an organizer, Hillary enjoys being at the ocean and “using her green thumb” with houseplants. Hillary is also an animal-lover and advocates the need to create healthy space in our homes for ourselves and our four-legged friends.

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