According to the American Moving and Storage Association, an average of 11.2% Americans move houses each year. To put that into better perspective, that’s a whopping 35.1 million people taking 60 boxes per household, which is an average of 900 million cardboard boxes being utilized each year. And that’s just for moves. Cardboard boxes are an age-old product used to store and transport things in. However, they don’t come cheap. You’ll have to shell out a pretty price for all your moving supplies, so here’s how to look into obtaining boxes for free. Plus, by recycling them, you’re helping reduce the 8.4 million tons of junk that is generated annually just from moves. Read up on how to find free moving boxes.
There’s loads of places you can check out for free boxes; while some of these are platforms meant for people to connect for free supplies, others are simply places that utilize boxes on a regular basis but may not know what to do with them. Irrespective, we recommend giving yourself at least 2 weeks to thoroughly explore every option we’ve listed. Remember to account for this in your moving timetable.
Craigslist may be one of the oldest online marketplaces around, but there’s still a large number of people who use it. Check out your local Craigslist for any postings about free boxes; a good time would be at the start of the week. Many people post ‘curb alerts’ as a way of notifying others that they have a bunch of free boxes they’ll be leaving out on their curbs. You can also post an ad on your local Craigslist, letting people know that you’re looking out for free moving boxes and other moving supplies. The beauty of the Word Wide Web is that there’s always a chance that the perfect people will see your post, so take advantage of it.
Because they’re second-hand boxes used by homeowners, you’re taking a gamble with the quality of boxes you’re getting. They can either be in prime condition with next to no damage or wear, or be fit enough for the recycling unit.
Yields: Unlimited boxes (if you’re lucky!)
2. Liquor Stores
Pop into your local liquor stores to see if you can get your hands on some free moving boxes. Their bottles are transported in boxes, and because of the fragility and value of their shipments, the boxes are generally quite sturdy and durable. Speak to the manager about being able to take home any spare boxes they have lying around. If you luck out, make sure to ask them when the next shipment comes in, and to save those boxes for you so you can still get your hands on them. Just don’t get distracted while you’re there!
As mentioned, these are going to be stiff, sturdy boxes. There’s no need to worry much unless they show definite signs of wear and tear, since they can endure a move even after 2 times of being previously used. Keep in mind that they won’t be waterproof.
Yields: Anywhere between 5 to 10 boxes
Transporting books is always surprisingly tricky, as a boxful of books is shockingly heavy and bulky to move around. That’s how you know that boxes acquired from bookstores will be sturdily built so as to not cave or break under pressure. Ideally, you want to go to a successful bookstore: more shipments means more chances of free boxes for you. They should have no problem giving you the boxes free of charge. Of course, you can use the smaller boxes to pack up kick knacks and stationery supplies, but we recommend using the bigger boxes for your books.
You won’t have to worry about the boxes caving with these ones, and boxes from higher-end establishments may even be waterproof.
Yields: 5 – 20 boxes
4. Furniture Stores
Furniture stores could be potential gold mines for free moving boxes of various sizes, as well as other packing materials. Many stores are likely to have an excess of these lying around. Plus, they wouldn’t risk reusing second-hand packing items when packing up their own products. Visit a local store or ring up their managers to discuss a suitable pickup time.
Yields: 5 to 7 boxes of various sizes
5. Large Retailers
Large retailers are bound to have tons of boxes lying around, simply due to the nature of their business. They’re known as “big box stores”, so you better check them all out. Keep in mind that you’ll get a range of boxes, from different sizes to different quality.
Starbucks: 2-3 shipments a week, 12 to 15 boxes
Office Depot: 1 shipment a week (Tuesday), 20 to 25 boxes
Walgreens: 10 to 15 boxes. Make sure to call in advance
PetSmart: 7 to 10 boxes
Target: 1 to 10 boxes
Walmart: 1 to 10 boxes
Winco: 5 to 10 boxes. Make sure to call in advance
Costco: 5 to 10 boxes. Call in advance as they are known to repurpose their boxes.
Dollar stores: 10 to 20 boxes.
6. Local Classifieds
Check out your local classifieds, and you might just strike gold. Local classifieds are a great, not to mention long standing way of getting a message out to your local community. You can get especially lucky if you come across a family that has just moved in, giving away all their moving boxes or selling them for as cheap as $1.
This rating isn’t an average, but is simply an estimation since you could get worn out boxes just as easily as you could get sturdy boxes that are as good as new.
Yield: As many as you can find.
7. Grocery Stores & Pharmacies
All grocery stores are constantly getting in new shipments in order to be selling fresh produce each day. Make sure you don’t skip out on your local grocery store, as well as the big chain stores. Just make sure you don’t find any stray lettuce leaves lying at the bottom. Plus, another local store type that constantly is getting shipments is a pharmacy. Ask around for any boxes they may have.
Again, the quality of the boxes you get is debatable, as the grocery store boxes in particular can be damp and dirty.
Yield: 5 to 10 boxes
8. Customer Connect Box Exchange By U-Haul
U-Haul has already been featured on our blogs, and for good reason: they’re good at what they do. They’ve recognized the impact that the moving industry has on the environment, and in an effort to reduce some of it, have started Customer Connect. With Customer Connect, you can get free boxes under their Box Exchange feature. Simply go to their website to look for people who are giving away or selling their moving boxes and other supplies.
9. Recycling Drop Off Points
Every neighborhood has a recycling drop-off point or two, each accepting a range of items. While you can and should look it up online to see what your drop off point accepts, almost all of them take in cardboard boxes. These are flattened more often than not, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be in good shape. Just make sure you inspect them for any damage, infestation or dampness before heading off with them.
Yields: Around 5 to 7 boxes.
10. Schools And Universities
Schools and universities are bound to have boxes piling up in their storage rooms, especially when it’s the start of a new academic year. This is the time when new books and other supply shipments will be heading in, and they’ll likely be more than happy to get the boxes out of the way. Ring up the front office, or simply pay them a visit yourself.
Yet again, boxes being used to transport books and other important supplies will be of a pretty decent quality.
Yields: 10 to 15 boxes.
Also See: Best Moving Boxes For Large Wall Art
Checking out places just involve walking, ringing up or logging onto the sites and places mentioned and trying your luck. Reaching out however, is actively putting out word that you need moving boxes. You may be shy, may have a small close knit circle of friends or simply on the quieter side. However, moving houses means pulling out all the stops and doing what it takes to make the move easier on you. Since getting cheap or free moving boxes helps you cut down significantly on your budget, we definitely recommend reaching out to people in all the ways listed below.
1. Facebook & Reddit Groups
Facebook has a group for simply anyone and everything, and similarly, Reddit has a subreddit. When it comes to Facebook, look for groups about your neighborhood, moving supplies or local recycling. Put up a post in every group, plus a post on your own dashboard (if you don’t know what that means, it’s time to find out). Ask friends and family to share the post and amplify it so it reaches as many people as possible. You might even get some hady help in the form of other supplies or a few helping hands for moving day!
When it comes to Reddit, there’s bound to be a subreddit for your neighborhood or city. Put up a post there about needing free or cheap moving boxes. Similarly, you can also utilize Twitter; be as shameless about your exploitation of social media as possible, it’ll all pay off once you get those boxes.
2. Ask Around
There’s no harm in actually asking your neighbors if they have any packing supplies or moving boxes lying around. If they’ve moved houses before, they’ll understand the stress that comes with it and will likely be more than willing to help you out. Similarly, contact family members and friends to ask them if they have any boxes lying around that you could use. Remember that these needn’t be from a past move, and can also be a box that their new TV came in, or the several Amazon boxes lying around the basement or garage. Dusty boxes can always be wiped down; as long as there’s no severe damage, you’re good to go.
A private community platform for your neighborhood, Nextdoor.com includes a ‘‘Classifieds’’ section. It is used to post about, you guessed it, free stuff. We’ll be honest, this may not always work. You need to have people in your neighborhood on the app in the first place, and then have to find someone who has posted about free boxes. Nonetheless, we feel like it’s worth a shot.
The Freecycle Network is an online non-profit group of people that aim to recycle as much as possible, reducing the waste that goes into landfills. Plus, all the stuff you get on there is for free. Signing up is free, so all you have to do is join your local group and let people know that you’re looking out for moving boxes. Try your hand at getting other moving supplies as well.
5. Community Bulletin Boards
It could be the one in your apartment complex, the one in church, or even the one at the golf club. If you see a bulletin board, put a pin in it. Make sure you mention your number so people have a way of contacting you if they happen to have moving boxes around.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I get free moving boxes?
There are several ways to get free moving boxes. Look on Craigslist for many offers of people giving away or selling their old cardboard. It’s more expensive than it seems, so ask some neighbors if they have any extra, free boxes lying around. E-mail some stores in your neighborhood and ask them if they have any different boxes available for pickup later that week since many stores throw out used cardboard every day after closing time. Some grocery stores also stack up unused products that can be recycled outside the loading zone of the store.
What should I pack first when moving?
It’s generally accepted that it’s best to pack heavy, bulky items before packing light, flat items. Blankets are one example of a kitchen item that should be packed last. Extra pillows slip under better than sheets do! This is because the heavier an object is, the more it can “sink” into soft materials like clothing and bedding. So if you finish with your clothes and sweaters before your pots and pans (or vice versa), those soft objects will start to bulge out from under the heavier ones.
Can I get free boxes from supermarkets?
If you are lucky enough to live near a big supermarket, try asking for recycling boxes. These will be varied in size and can hold up your groceries nicely! The best part is that they’re free if done right- find yourself some sturdy cardboard at any store on or off the beaten path during next week’s grocery haul 🙂
Things To Keep In Mind:
- Always use the more worn boxes for the least useful items in your house, and save the sturdy ones for the more valuable things.
- Whenever you’re using cheaply bought or second-hand boxes, always fortify the bottom and corners of the box with packing tape to make sure it doesn’t cave out.
- There’s never a right or wrong time to look for free moving boxes and other supplies. Looking in the off-season means you’re likely to get your hands on them with no trouble, as not many people would look in the off-season. However, looking in the peak moving season means there’s that many moves happening, which means more packing supplies and more people looking out for them.
- Never pack in a hurry. This is one of the most basic ways to cause damage to your items, as boxes packed in a rush are never packed well enough. Make sure to allocate significant time to get all your packing done, and make sure you have all your packing material assembled before you start, and not after.
Now that you know where and how to find free moving boxes, start to look for the best kind of movers for your move. Simply go through our blogs; from long distance to apartment to cross country moves, we’ve researched them all. Lastly, contact us so we can give you some reliable recommendations to fall back on.