As real estate agents, we take on a myriad of tasks to help our clients, and that includes being their trusted adviser. Giving advice is part of our job description. In the world of real estate, this means having a broad wealth of knowledge if you plan to be at the top of your game.

One subject real estate agents should be familiar with is moving. After all, both buying and selling begin and end with a move. Within the process of moving, what doesn’t get talked about enough is the topic of gathering and then getting rid of moving boxes.

Consumers often ask real estate agents what they can do with their leftover moving boxes. After finishing a move and unpacking all of their boxes, buyers and sellers are left to settle into their new homes. But they still have to deal with the problem of disposing of or using their moving boxes.

Fortunately, it’s easy to recycle cardboard boxes. When you recycle boxes, the old cardboard can be turned into new boxes, lessening the damage to the environment. Recycling cardboard uses less energy than manufacturing new boxes, produces less sulfur dioxide and reduces raw material use.

You can reduce your impact on the environment by taking a few simple steps to reuse or recycle boxes. Let’s take a deep dive to see what you can do with boxes left over after a move. There are quite a few disposal methods you may not have thought about. By having this knowledge at your disposal, you can pass it along to your clients.

1. Flatten your moving boxes

Cardboard boxes are a lot easier to store when they’re broken down. Make sure your boxes are emptied, then tear off the tape and flatten them. Though it isn’t essential to entirely remove the tape (as this will be done at the recycling center), it helps if you do it.

If the moving boxes were damaged by something that leaked in the box, cut or tear that section out. Damaged cardboard can be very problematic for recycling centers to deal with, even if it has dried. If the boxes are in poor condition, the recycling center may reject them.

2. Keep your boxes dry

Once you’ve flattened the boxes, don’t just simply put them outside ahead of collection day. This could lead to them getting damp and more difficult to recycle. Instead, store them inside until recycling collection.

3. Know waste collection rules

Before you put your boxes out for recycling, make sure that the waste management company will actually collect them. Not every company will collect materials that are not in the bin. Make sure you are sticking to the rules for waste collection if your cardboard won’t fit in the recycling bin.

If your waste management company isn’t going to collect, you should be able to find a local drop-off center for your recycling material. This might be the best option if you have many boxes or the waste management company wants to charge you extra for collection.

You can usually ask your city or town hall. More than likely, others have asked the same question, and they’ll have a good handle on the answer.

Alternative recycling options for your moving boxes

There are other ways to recycle cardboard boxes beyond giving it to a waste management company. Cardboard can come in handy in many situations, so let’s look at the options.

4. Offer them to other people

If your moving boxes are still in reasonable condition, other people might need them during their move. You can offer cardboard boxes to others on sites like Craigslist or Freecycle. Just post a listing, and perhaps someone will gratefully collect them from you.

Lots of folks are consistently looking for places to get moving boxes. You will find lots of friends who are either moving now or will be at some point in the future. Keep this in mind because they’re probably good candidates for taking some of those boxes off your hands.

5. Compost your boxes

If your clients are keen gardeners, cardboard can be added to your compost pile to create a mulch that will help your plants grow. It doesn’t matter if the cardboard has been damaged by water. However, if other substances have leaked into the box, you might have to be more careful.

6. Use them for storage

Moving boxes can be great if you have a lot of items to store in garages or outbuildings. You can also use them inside the home by covering them in fabric and turning them into stylish storage furniture.

7. Get organized

You can reuse your cardboard boxes by turning them into drawer dividers. This will let you keep things separated and more organized than they otherwise would be.

8. Use them for floor protection

If you know your clients are planning to redecorate their new home, cardboard can come in very handy for protecting the floors. You can cut them to cover a larger area and use painter’s tape to fix them in place. They are also great for that purpose when you move as well. So, if you know you’ll be moving again soon, set some of those boxes aside.

9. Create a playhouse

If your clients have children, they can recycle boxes into a fun playhouse or fort. When I was a kid, I loved making “forts.” This is something most kids enjoy, and if you have large leftover boxes, you can keep your kids amused on those rainy days when they have nothing to do.

What’s more, pets — and especially cats — really love playing with cardboard boxes too, so make the most of the ones you have. Turn them into something that will keep your cat busy for hours, and you can recycle them later.

10. Hold on to them

If you have somewhere to store your cardboard boxes, you could keep them until you need them — perhaps for a future move or some other reason. You might need the boxes to ship something, or they may prove to be useful in some other way.

If you’ve just started your career as a real estate agent, your clients will likely ask you where to find and how to get rid of moving boxes. When it comes to moving, these are two very prevalent questions. Hopefully, you can offer some of these suggestions and help your clients avoid sending their boxes to a landfill.

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell homes for the past 33-plus years. He has been a top agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty, which serves many towns across the state of Massachusetts. Check out his blog.

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