The Life of A Cardboard Box

A cardboard box appears to have a whole life before it gets to us, the consumers. If you’ve ever looked at the bottom of of your shipping box your likely to see a series of numbers, maybe a barcode, a stamp of the company who made the box and perhaps a stamp referencing recycling.

I am scratching the surface of a few boxes lives as I google, and These all tell be about the sustainable practices of the cardboards producers. There are box certificates that tell me which company made the boxes. I don’t yet know what the printed numbers mean- perhaps they are style numbers for the different box sizes.

Before the boxes were boxes they were paper, a while before that, trees. Some boxes are recycled so they have traveled their path before with a second run at the recycling plant, then to the company who will turn them into paper for cardboard. I know from my brief time as a product maker there are many regulatory steps one must follow to make an item for sale. This is a good thing. It keeps the producer of the product accountable through the creating process but I haven’t yet seen a way that we as consumers can get boxes back to their origin.

Boxes, I am coming to realize are big business. There is so much involved in the creating of them, so much care and intention into the making of them, the selling of them but, it stops when the boxes are sold. They get purchased by the companies who will use them to package and ship the products they sell.

We buy the products that come in the packaging. The ownness of the box it appears, then lands on us consumers and the trash companies to take care of the next and final steps- to reuse or dispose of or recycle the box. Should it? Should some responsibility, accountability befall the company who uses the box to ship, some to the producer of the box as well?

Our current end of the line process doesn’t seem to work, especially since learning that the U.S. was selling recycled cardboard to other Countries and now those don’t want it. As Annie Leonard says, “there is no such thing as away…”. Is there something we can do?

I envision a community us, people who want to help form healthy practices and a cycles for good for the things we use. Contact me if you want to join me in exploring the life of the cardboard box, to understand how it really impacts our world from start to finish. I think that is where change can happen.

Jemma W.
Founder & Owner