Published: Feb. 9, 2021 By

In our current society, the majority of people use a lot of cardboard. In the United States alone, we produce and use roughly 70 thousand tons   of paper and cardboard are thrown away every year. This number is only growing with the pandemic as many people feel more comfortable ordering things online rather than going out in public and risking exposure. The production of cardboard contributes to deforestation across the world, and therefore reuse and recycling are of ever growing importance in today’s society. Although roughly 70% of cardboard is recycled, there is always room for growth in the amount of cardboard recycled, and cardboard can be easily reused to make items that are used everyday.

Cardboard Recycling Facts:

  • Cardboard and papers comprise roughly 40% of all solid waste 

  • In 2018, paper and cardboard made up the largest portion of municipal solid waste 

  • In 2018, over 17,200 thousand tons of cardboard were thrown in the landfill 

  • Over 90%  of things shipped in the United States are packaged in some form of cardboard  

  • The average American uses the amount of seven trees worth of cardboard and paper products every year

Ways to Reuse Cardboard in Your Home:

  • Make it into a planter by lining it with a plastic bag with some holes poked in the bottom. For added decoration, you can paint the cardboard to make it more fun!  

  • Paint cardboard boxes or line with fabric to make nice storage containers 

  • Cut out small circles and paint them to make coasters  

  • Cut into small pieces and use as furniture sliders to protect your floors

  • Place over weeds in your backyard to kill weeds naturally, without any chemicals. Simply lay the broken down box flat on the weeds and wet with a hose, then cover with dirt .

  • Save to send packages to other people

Why Reusing and Recycling Cardboard is Important:

  • High demand for recycled cardboard

    • Most cardboard boxes are made of roughly 35% recycled material, even though that percentage could be much higher

  • Although recycling cardboard is a great option to reduce the impact of making cardboard in the future, reusing cardboard reduces the need for other materials that would be used to make products which can be substituted with the cardboard around your house! 

  • Whether you reuse or recycle cardboard, just be sure that your cardboard does not end up in a landfill! Landfills  produce methane and carbon dioxide and organic materials break down. Both of these gases are greenhouse gases, so their release into the atmosphere has detrimental effects on the environment and on our climate. Landfills are also often in marginalized communities, so limiting the effect that landfills have on the surrounding community is important for social justice as well. 

  • The graphic from Dartmouth below, demonstrates the importance of recycling materials made of paper such as cardboard, as 1.15 kilogram of carbon dioxide per 1 kilogram of paper produced.  Despite this, 850 million tons of cardboard are thrown away in the United States annually, roughly 1.4 million trees. Trees make habitats for species, along with performing photosynthesis which helps to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, helping to lessen the climate crisis. Trees are integral to a healthy forest ecosystem, deforestation is detrimental, so recycling cardboard is of the utmost importance.