In Praise of Cardboard
I recently had the experience of unpacking and assembling a set of kitchen cupboards, from that Swedish company. Their assembly system, once you get the hang of it, is elegant engineering. One thing that struck me is the packaging. The whole set comes in flat cardboard boxes, and when it’s all opened and assembled, there is about a double handful of non-reusable plastic – that, I had to just throw away – 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’m a lazy gardener at the best of times, and this year, I was involved with other concerns at prime garden-tilling time. I laid large cardboard sheets on the garden spots I had neglected to turn over in time, so now, when I do get around to tilling, it’s 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 place a few sheets on top the compost heap, and it will soon be a colony of unpaid earthworkers. Cardboard can be used in place of a tarp, for blocking off an unfinished building project, 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 the flying debris from cutting or sanding on the floor, 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 which can be applied to cardboard, and that’s not to mention the many uses for cardboard boxes, which many businesses receive and dispose of daily. The place where I buy building supplies keeps a stack of boxes, which customers can use as shopping baskets, when gathering electrical, plumbing and eaves troughing items. Anyone who has moved house 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.
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