Boxes, boxes, and more boxes: when you're prepping for a move, it may seem as though you need a never-ending supply. You need boxes to pack up your books. Boxes to pack up the kids' toys. Boxes for, well, basically every room in your home.
Then there are the boxes for things you aren't taking with you.
You may want to store items for donation in boxes.
You may want to place items that are headed out to the trash in boxes, too, especially as you run out of garbage bags.
There's just one problem: purchasing all those boxes outright can quickly turn into a major expense.
There's good news, though: many of your household goods do not require special boxes in order to ensure a safe move. Check out some of these options for gathering free boxes.
This year, as never before, people have been doing a lot of online shopping. While it has a number of advantages, including making it easier for people to get the items they need delivered directly to their doors, it also has a side benefit for you if you're planning a move: your friends and family members may have a stack of boxes sitting around that you can requisition for your moving needs.
Get in touch with close friends and family members. Put the word out on social media. Simply ask. You never know when someone in your immediate circle will have boxes that you can add to your stash.
While you're talking to friends and family members, you might also want to consider asking them if they have items that you can use as packing materials. Old newspapers, shredded paper, or even packing peanuts or other materials from all those packages can come in handy as you're prepping for your move. It doesn't hurt to ask--and once friends and family members know you're moving, they'll be more likely to save those items for your future use.
Grocery stores get a lot of boxes in their delivery trucks every day. Many of their goods come in larger boxes that they can then break down to put items out on the shelves. Most of the time, those boxes get broken down and tossed in the back as stockers load the smaller items onto grocery store shelves.
Visit your local grocery store and ask for boxes. If they don't have them on hand at the moment, ask when they will. Sometimes, you may need to arrive at a specific time in order to obtain those boxes before they're tossed in the rubbish bin. Other times, grocery stores may set them to the side if you ask.
Ideally, you want boxes that have contained dry goods, not boxes that have contained messier products. You definitely do not want boxes used to transport raw meat, which could thaw during shipping and leave trace bacteria in the box. Instead, choose boxes that previously held cereal, cans, and other dry goods.
Many warehouse stores, like Costco and Bunnings, keep boxes on hand for their shoppers. They understand that many shoppers are visiting to purchase a large quantity of goods at once. Sometimes, those goods just don't fit in traditional-sized shopping bags, even if you bring your own with you. Talk to a clerk or manager to learn whether you can take as many boxes as you like or if they may have more in the back. If you need larger boxes or cardboard to protect your furniture, you may also check with the store manager to see if they have these items on hand. Often, they'll be glad to pass them along to you! Just make sure you're following the rules and not taking more than the store allows, since some stores prefer to keep those boxes on hand for other customers to use.
Take a look at your local Facebook pages or look on Gumtree for people giving away free boxes. Often, people who have accepted recent large deliveries will have a post up that indicates their intention to give away those boxes. You may be able to meet up in a safe local spot, including a parking lot or store, to accept delivery of those boxes, or you might be able to go to the person's home directly. Keep in mind that you should continue to maintain social distancing during these transactions, and that you should keep your source in mind when deciding whether to sanitize boxes before use.
Liquor stores are an incredibly popular place for moving individuals to find the boxes they need. Liquor stores often have mid-size, heavy-duty boxes that can handle your collectibles and other heavier household goods with ease. Those solid boxes feel much more sturdy, which can make you more comfortable tossing in your books or even filling them with the contents of your kitchen cabinets.
Keep in mind, however, that bottle shop boxes may go fast, especially during peak moving seasons. If you want to acquire boxes from a local liquor store, you may ask them about what dates and times they accept deliveries. Appearing early on delivery day will allow you to scoop up the boxes you need before someone else gets to them--and allow you your pick of available boxes. Keep in mind, too, that many liquor store boxes are smaller, which means that you may not be able to use them to pack up larger items.
Like grocery stores, these shops often see a large amount of delivery traffic. They may have large boxes come through on a regular basis, which the store must then break down and dispose of. Visit those shops and ask their managers if they have any boxes you can have. If they do not have them on hand in the store at the moment, they may be able to tell you when they will have another shipment coming in and when you can expect to pick up those boxes. Keep in mind that delivery days and pickup times for boxes may be different. Shop employees will need time to empty the boxes as they stock the shelves. However, a manager might set aside those boxes for you to pick up at your convenience if you ask.
Office supply stores have a lot of boxes coming in, often in a broad size range. If you need boxes for your move, consider visiting a local office supply store to get a better idea of what they have to offer. Ask about their delivery days and when they're most likely to have boxes on hand. Keep in mind that office supply boxes are typically large, clean, and sturdy, which can make them ideal for your purposes.
Some restaurants, especially fast food restaurants, take bulk deliveries of food that often comes in boxes. Evaluate your local fast food restaurants carefully, however, before you decide to pick up boxes from them. Choose boxes that do not have any risk of items leaking and that do not have a strong smell. The last thing you want is to put in all the time and energy to pack your possessions and move them, only to discover that your books and clothing all have a strong smell of pizza! Boxes that smell strongly of food may also attract pests, so exercise care if you use restaurant boxes. Check them over for stains and give them a sniff to make sure they fit with your needs.
Are you using a removalist to handle your move? If so, make sure you check your package. If you're going with full-service moving, you may find that boxes and other packing materials are included with your other moving services. If you're not sure what your package includes, consult your removalist and ask for more information. Your removalist may also offer you a discounted price on the boxes you need for your move, especially if you are planning a large move. Removalist boxes are designed especially for moving, which can be a plus.
If you're moving out of an apartment complex or a neighborhood with a shared recycling bin, take a look for any boxes that might have been tossed inside. No, you don't want to go dumpster diving for boxes (yuck!), but you might find that a recycling bin will offer a convenient pile of broken-down boxes that you can acquire to help with your move. As you check the recycling, you might also have a chance to connect with your neighbors, who can collect boxes and even provide them for you. Note: check your complex rules before you do this, since some associations do have rules against taking items out of the rubbish. You may also want to consider the cleanliness of the boxes in question: never take out boxes that have visible stains or smells that could impact your possessions. You have too many other options for safely transporting your possessions.
Schools often take deliveries for teachers or have specific deliveries for the school itself. If you have a child enrolled in the local school system, start with their school. Ask if their teacher could pass on any boxes in the office or check in with the office to see if they have supplies available that you could use for your move. In many cases, you'll find that the school is glad to have your assistance getting rid of those items, since they can prove bulky and inconvenient to get rid of.
Are you still working as you prepare for your move? Check in at the office to learn whether there are any boxes that you can take to aid in packing up your home. Pro tip: check with the secretaries and the janitorial staff, who may have a better idea of where in your building those boxes are stored or when deliveries are coming in. Remember, if you're planning a job change, you'll need boxes to pack up your office, too--and you may want to start that process as soon as possible, since you've got more than enough packing to handle.
As your coworkers hear you asking about box availability, they may also contribute to your box collection. Let your coworkers know about your planned move and when you'll be leaving. Many of them will donate boxes and packing materials to help you get your home packed up as effortlessly as possible.
Most of your household possessions can easily go into whatever boxes you can find. Clothes, bedding, and books can easily go into a box of any size and shape. Most of your collectables can even be carefully wrapped and placed in whatever boxes you can find--and you can certainly pack up your kitchen in a standard box.
Some items, however, you may want to consider packing with care. Use the money you've saved by finding free boxes in convenient locations to invest in special packaging for the items that matter most. You might, for example, want custom packaging for important paintings and other artwork, or to transport expensive collectibles. If you have china, you may want to be sure that it's packed away carefully. Consult your moving company to learn more about what items you really need to package in custom boxes and the associated costs.
Are you planning a big move? Whether you're just starting to make arrangements or you're in the middle of a desperate scramble for boxes, Clear Sky Moving and Storage can help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help make your move easier.