Let's face it, moving is an overwhelming task, even in the best of circumstances. It takes time and effort to sort through all your belongings and pack them all up, not to mention the sheer effort required to schlep everything from one location to another.
Before you can start, you have to find enough boxes to put everything in—and hopefully not break the bank to do it. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to get what you need and some surprising options for disposing of those boxes when you're done.
Any large store that turns over lots of inventory will have lots of packing material to get rid of. Grocery stores receive daily deliveries, so they're the perfect place to start your search.
Hit the customer service desk to ask about picking up leftover boxes—local chains might even have a set time and place for pickup.
Big-box retailers that also sell groceries (think Walmart and Target) are other solid options.
Like grocery stores, hospitals get daily deliveries of medical supplies, often packed in sturdy cardboard boxes due to the delicate nature of the items. Unlike grocery and big-box stores, you won't have much competition since this is an under-the-radar option.
If the main switchboard isn't sure where to direct you, try asking for facilities management or housekeeping to get started.
Did you know that you can rent moving boxes and return them when you're done? Rental containers are typically made of sturdy plastic, so they're ideal for heavy items—no worries about the bottom of a cardboard box collapsing and your items hitting the sidewalk.
Most rental companies require a return to the exact location, so this option may not work for cross-country moves.
Don't forget that not every item needs a classic moving box. You can also use containers you already own, such as your luggage, dresser drawers, hampers, and trash bags, to carry items.
These are excellent choices for clothes and soft goods, but you can also get creative for hard-to-pack items. For example, wheeled luggage can be a lifesaver for heavy books and small appliances.
You can, of course, purchase moving boxes as well. Packing and shipping stores are good sources, but you'll pay top dollar. Try buying your moving supplies from a box recycler instead for a more affordable and sustainable solution. You can also search for deals for recycled boxes on (where else?) Amazon.
One of the best ways to pick up moving boxes is on social media sites where neighbors share their used items. Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, Freecycle, and Craigslist are all great places to start your search.
You can also put out a call to your network on Twitter and Instagram; lots of people have leftover boxes from their own moves that they would be happy to get rid of. Once you're finished, offer the empty boxes on the internet to pass them along to the next person in need.
When you're done with your move, your boxes could also be useful for other purposes. Many local charities need boxes to provide essentials for the unhoused, organize food pantries, or ship care packages to soldiers overseas.
Your donation will help these worthy organizations do their significant work.
Teachers often have many supplies and learning tools to keep track of, so extra boxes are a lifesaver when cleaning up a classroom at the end of the year. Art teachers may also find the cardboard useful for projects, and big boxes might even be repurposed for scenery for a children's play.
You might want to hang on to a few boxes for your own purposes. For starters, moving boxes can keep your long-term storage organized.
You can also use the cardboard to protect your floors from scratches as you shift furniture around or to wrap table legs to protect them from a teething puppy or curious cat. You can even use smaller pieces of cardboard to create quick drawer dividers in a pinch.
You can always break down the boxes and recycle them if you don't find any takers for your old boxes. If you don't have curbside recycling in your new home, call your municipality to see if they have a local recycling center with public drop-off days.
You can also check with local gardening clubs or composting centers to see if they collect cardboard for composting and other gardening purposes, such as weed-killing.