Here is a simple clutter solution you can use to keep your online purchases, and the shipping boxes they come in, from overfilling your home.
Do you like to make a lot of online purchases?
I confess I do. It is convenient to order clothes, household products, and other items right off the Internet while I'm wearing my PJs, and not having to fight the crowds in a physical store, and then receive the packages directly at my door.
Sometimes modern life is grand, isn't it?
But all is not perfect in this online purchasing paradise, and as always things like online shopping that have their advantages also have their disadvantages.
Some of these disadvantages include that it's easy to bring more and more stuff into your home, because the barriers to getting out there and shopping for it have significantly decreased.
This article isn't really about this disadvantage though. If your online shopping is causing you to accumulate a lot of clutter, including things you don't need at all and never even open, for example, you need to check out my article on clutter control strategies and also think more generally about why you're spending money on stuff you don't even use, or need when you've already got enough already.
However, even if you only buy stuff you will use, or do need, there is a disadvantage to online shopping -- and that's the accumulation of lots of online shipping boxes.
To give you an example in my real life, we've recently become Amazon Prime subscribers (within the last year), and also had some unused Amazon money, so when we were running low on toilet paper I decided to use that credit to buy the much needed toilet paper, instead of buying it at the store. When we got the box delivered my eyes widened. We needed the toilet paper, yes, but it came in two (yes, two) huge boxes. There was the box it was shipped in, and for 48 rolls of toilet paper that wasn't too small, and then inside the box it was shipped in was another box from the manufacturer, with the toilet paper in it.
If I'd bought the toilet paper at the store like I normally do, I'd probably have bought less at once (most likely just 24 rolls) and also not gotten either of those shipping boxes. Then, during the normal course of life we'd have used up the toilet paper, slowly but surely flushing it down the drain, meaning neither a net gain or loss, eventually, in the overall amount of stuff in the house.
However, with the online purchase of the toilet paper even after using all of that paper, I was still left with more stuff than I'd have had from an in-store purchase -- those two huge boxes.
If my example had been clothing I'd purchase, I'd also have been left with the clothes I bought, since those wouldn't be used up. That would have further increased the net accumulation of stuff in my house further (just like most in-store shopping trips).
And that's when it came to me -- a simple clutter solution that could help me, and you, keep excess clutter from accumulating in our house using the prompt of online shopping to help us out.
Then and there, I made a simple rule for myself, that I encourage you to adopt. Here's the rule:
Whenever I get a box from my online shopping purchases, instead of breaking it down or storing it, I will empty the box of my purchases and then refill it with clutter items, to donate or sell, and remove the box and its clutter contents from my home.
Yep, it is. I'm not telling you I'm a genius, I'm not. I'm not even saying I'm the first one to come up with the idea. I'm sure I'm not. What I'm telling you is, it works.
This rule I made up for myself is basically a variation of the one in, one out rule.
If you're not familiar with the rule, it's the basic concept that to stop yourself from accumulating more clutter in your home, when you come into your home with something new you've got to remove something old so there's not a net accumulation of clutter.
When you use this concept for getting rid of the boxes you get from your online purchases you're achieving the same purpose as the one in, one out rule, and perhaps even reducing your net amount of clutter in your home because those boxes online retailers send stuff in are often huge and can hold a lot more stuff, volume wise, than what you purchased.
To continue on with my example of my toilet paper purchase, I used the rule to fill up BOTH of the boxes that the toilet paper came in, filling both boxes with decluttered clothes from my kids that they'd outgrown.
I then drove those clothes, plus the boxes themselves, to my local donation shop to donate them, getting them out of my house. The result was I had less clutter in my house than before, and I got rid of the two boxes that had just made their appearance into my home.
That's another advantage of this simple clutter solution -- if you're on a real decluttering streak it's easy to run out of boxes to use for donations (that's when I often resort to garabage bags to hold my donations). But this method helps you find some excess boxes, which are far superior for certain types of clutter storage, such as books which you can't carry in a garbage bag at all.
You can even use online shipping boxes you receive as your clutter donation boxes for around your home, so you and your family always have a box available to drop clutter into, that you come across in your home.
If you adopt this rule for yourself, you'll make sure that your online purchases never overfill your house, because you'll always be removing at least as much stuff from your home as you are bringing in.
In the example I provided above, about my toilet paper boxes I received, I just filled the boxes and then drove them to my local donation shop. You can do this too.
But if you need to ship the boxes, instead of transporting them yourself, I wanted you to know about an online resource that can help you with the shipping costs -- it's called Give Back Box.
I hope to write a full article about this later, but the concept of Give Back Box is that you can use any shipping box you get (Amazon is one of their partners, but they accept any box, not just Amazon boxes), fill it with the appropriate donations, choose from the charities listed (check first to see what each charity accepts to make sure you're donating the right things), and then print out a FREE shipping label for your box, to mail it to that charity using either UPS or the USPS.
This is a great method to help you get rid of excess boxes, get clutter out of your home, and not spend too much money in the process of helping others.
You can check out my whole series of decluttering tips here!
I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!