In praise of cardboard


I recently had the experience of unpacking and assembling a set of kitchen

I recently had the experience of unpacking and assembling a set of kitchen
cupboards from IKEA. The whole set comes in flat cardboard boxes, and when it’s all opened and assembled, there was only about a double handful of non-reusable plastic that I had to just throw away because I couldn’t think of any use for it. But the rest: a good pickup truck load, was all cardboard – big sheets of clean, recyclable, biodegradable, infinitely re-usable cardboard.
Here are a few uses I’ve found for that trash/treasure:
Garden mulching – I laid large cardboard sheets on the areas I neglected to turn over in time, so when I do get around to tilling, it is just a matter of pulling up some limp, light-starved, broad-leafed weeds.
Worm food – worms are a gardener’s friend and they love to live in the corrugation tubes of cardboard, so I placed a few sheets on top of the compost heap, and it will soon be a colony of unpaid earth workers.
Cardboard can be used in place of a tarp, for blocking off an unfinished building project, and I keep a piece in my car in case I need to crawl underneath to have a look. I use cardboard as a temporary wall to block flying debris from cutting or sanding floors, or to give a newly finished floor a few days to dry hard before stepping on it directly.
I failed to put away enough kindling this past fall, but I found I could tear strips
of cardboard, and they made a good intermediate fire starter, to go between
newspaper and firewood.
These are just some of the uses for flat cardboard and boxes, which many
businesses receive and dispose of daily. The place where I buy building supplies keeps a stack of boxes customers can use as shopping baskets. Anyone who has moved knows that a good supply of cardboard boxes, tape and a magic marker makes a trying time almost manageable.
If more consumer items were packed in cardboard, there would be far less dead-end waste to clutter up our world.

Robert Wills, Thorne