What Should You Do With All Those Product Boxes?


I recently went into my basement to start cleaning and realized that I have kept way too many product boxes. I have a huge variety of original packaging for electronics and video games, many going back several years. Some I held on to because they were attractive, others because I thought they would be useful. Well today that is going to stop. I am cleaning out the boxes and from now on, most boxes will go straight to the recycle bin.

Product Boxes Game Plan

There are some that I will keep and this is how I will decide which ones stay and which ones go and which will stay.

1. Return Period: If the product is still within it’s return period then hold on to the box. It is a lot harder to return a product that doesn’t have original packaging. In many cases, even if you have the receipt, stores will refuse it or if they do take it back it will be as an ‘open box’ item which means they refund you less money. Just be sure that you also hold on to any interior spaces and boxes so you can attempt to put it back together in almost new condition.

2. Warranty Period: Read your warranty terms closely. Some warranty fulfillment centers want to you ship the product back to them for repair. One problem with sending things back is usually finding a box that fits the product. If you have the original product box, then that part is easy.

For warranty issues I suggest holding on to more than just the box, but also the interior packaging, this way they can not complain that you didn’t package it adequately.

3. Resale: If you plan to upgrade within a short time frame then you can probably resell the original item. For some reason original packaging sells better than no packaging, it makes it more attractive. Sending an item to a buyer in original packaging also improves your seller credibility and may garner you higher review than someone that merely tosses the item in a random box. However, keep in mind that most electronics have a very short resale lifespan and after a certain period whether you have the original box or not, the item is not reselling for a lot.

4. MovingIf you plan to move within the next 3 years then definitely keep the product boxes and any styrofoam packing for large items such as computers and televisions. These boxes are made for the product and allow you to pack and ship the items more securely than anything else you may come up with.

5. Shipping: If you are like me and ship a lot of packages at Christmas then you might want to take a serious look at the box and decide if it is a good parcel type box. Decent sized square or rectangular boxes work well for shipping. If the box is odd shaped, flimsy, heavy or is made of a material that tape won’t stick to, then toss it.

6. Storage: If you look at the box and instantly think that you can store a particular item in it, then keep it and use it for that purpose. However, if it just looks like a good storage box and you have nothing in mind for it, then get rid of it. It is just more clutter that you don’t need.

7. Crafting: This is where one of the biggest problems come in. If you are a crafter or an upcycler or a DIYer then you have a tendency to look at everything and think, ‘I can use that for….’. A lot of the boxes and styrofoam in my basement came about because we were thinking we would use them as framework or templates for various cosplay items. Yes, we have used some of them, but not as much as we thought which means that it just sits around taking up space. If it has sat for more than a year, and you have no immediate plans for it, then toss it.

What To Do with Boxes You Keep

I’ve started labeling the boxes with the date I either bought or received them and if there is a valid warranty period I’m labeling them with the warranty expiration so that I can (hopefully) toss them out after that.

When it is possible, break the boxes down and store them flat against the wall or between things. This way they take up less room. This isn’t possible if you are also keeping the styrofoam and other interior packaging, so just try to stack and nest boxes as much as possible.