Thinking Outside the Box with Corrugated Boxes

by Breana Cronk, IQS Editor

These days children’s playrooms world over are saturated not with the simple toys of generations past, but with high tech gizmos and gadgets many adults would struggle to comprehend. Classic toys, and perhaps the imagination they inspired, it would seem are lost on the next generation. This pessimistic line of thinking might be persuasive unless of course you’ve been to the birthday party of a toddler lately. If so you might find that things haven’t changed much at all from yesteryear. Seemingly without fail, the most popular present is not the one with the largest price tag, but instead the one that came in the largest box or rather the box itself. Corrugated boxes continue to be an endless source of imaginative play time for children as they have since their invention in the 19th Century. Under supervision these cardboard creations become forts, slides, sleds, hiding places and surprise packages delivered to unwitting grandparents in the next room. The possibilities are endless.

Photos courtesy of Dyer Packaging, Inc.

Though perhaps less entertaining than the aforementioned applications, industrial uses for corrugated boxes are equally abundant. While shipping, packaging, retail and material handling are most easily recognized examples; nearly every major industry utilizes easily and economically produced cardboard boxes. Made of recycled wood chips, paper and sawdust, even custom corrugated boxes are relatively cost affective as compared to alternative materials such as plastics. Heat, pressure and adhesives transform these natural fibers into chipboard, two flat sheets of which sandwich one or more rippled sheets to create the corrugated panels needed for folding boxes. The undulating interior creates an air cushion as well as added strength and durability, qualities appreciated by both industry workers and rambunctious children. Add to this the environmental advantages of the easily recycled product made from recycled materials and the reasons behind the popularity of these simple containers are clear.

Photos courtesy of Dyer Packaging, Inc.

Nearly three quarters of all corrugated cardboard materials are recycled. Before these corrugated cartons, crates, bins and boxes meets their end, however, many have already been used and reused time and time again. While traditional uses such as shipping and storage are popular, adults and children alike have branched out from conventional containment to find creative uses for the unoccupied box. From the mundane to the outrageous, the ubiquity of this sturdy material has lead to an unleashing of imaginative applications. Akin to the simple forts and arts projects of youngsters, adolescents and adults alike have created everything from wine racks to complete pieces of furniture using repurposed corrugated boxes.

Photos courtesy of Dyer Packaging, Inc.

The presence of boxes in virtually every home, office and industrial setting illustrates their pervasiveness in modern society. Cardboard storage boxes fill attics and warehouses alike, while corrugated shipping boxes pack mail trucks and post offices. Cardboard slides and houses fill living rooms and backyards, while corrugated dinner tables and chairs fill cleverly decorated dorm rooms. Easily constructed and inexpensive, corrugated cardboard bins are not only useful, but practical. Easily re-constructed, corrugated materials are no longer limited to containment and instead encourage children of all ages to think outside the box.

Photo courtesy of Dyer Packaging, Inc.

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