May 9, 2022

Boxes are an unfortunate necessity when it comes to moving. If you’ve ever tried to move without boxes, you probably didn’t get too far! With all the expenses that moving can entail—not to mention environmental concerns—it’s understandable that we may want to find some used cardboard boxes. This can help us save some cardboard from heading straight to the landfill, and also save a little money as we prepare to move.

Best Places to Find Free Moving Boxes in Chicago


Check your local Craigslist for free moving boxes. Craigslist has a “free” section where people frequently offer up their moving boxes when they’re done with them. This is also a great way to get rid of your own moving boxes after your move rather than simply tossing or recycling them!

Be mindful that you should not use damaged or weakened boxes, especially if they have any amount of water damage. Water damage not only significantly weakens the boxes structurally but can also mean mold. If you go to pick up boxes from a Craigslist ad and at first glance they appear worn out or damaged, don’t take them home with you!

U-Haul Box Exchange

The DIY-moving giant U-Haul has created a box exchange on its website where people can give away their moving boxes after their move, or request boxes in advance of their move. U-Haul makes good quality moving boxes, whether you are reusing them or buying them new. Recycle any boxes with crushed corners, tears, water damage, or any other problems. A damaged box is no good for your move!

Ask Around!

If there are retailers in your neighborhood, ask them if they have any boxes they’re getting rid of. Liquor stores often have strong, uniformly sized boxes on hand. Your employer also may have some boxes to get rid of, such as copy paper boxes. Friends and family may have boxes left over from their own moves.

One frequently-recommended place to acquire free boxes are bookstores. However, many bookstores reuse their own boxes until they are worn out. It’s worth asking, but don’t be surprised if your local bookstore doesn’t have any boxes to spare!

Grocery stores sometimes dispose of boxes you can use, but these are usually not reliable. Because they are used to contain and transport food, grocery store boxes often acquire smells or even rot from the food inside. You don’t want your belongings exposed to that! Be very careful when selecting free boxes from your local grocer.

Things To Keep in Mind About Free Moving Boxes

Free moving boxes sound great! However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you rely on freebies:

  • Use uniform boxes. Free moving boxes from sources that are not moving-oriented may come in a wide variety of sizes. This makes it harder for your movers to pack the truck. It may also mean that there are more gaps between the boxes, since they may not fit comfortably with each other. Expert movers like the ones at Move-tastic! pack the truck by playing Tetris, which helps them fit all the boxes and furniture items as close together as possible. They’ll not only fill the truck, but they’ll avoid damage to belongings by having all the corners and edges of boxes lined up together. Ideally, you should have three uniform box sizes: small, medium, and large. Non-uniform boxes will not be as tightly packed, and therefore not as safe as uniform boxes.
  • Use sturdy boxes. Boxes are made for a variety of purposes, and some can handle more weight than others. If you pack your books into boxes that were designed for stuffed animals, you might have a problem.
  • Only reuse lightly used boxes. Don’t use a box that seems damaged. If it crosses your mind whether to use a particular box, just recycle it! All cardboard boxes will eventually fail, and you don’t want that to happen in the middle of your move. Don’t use a box if any of the corners are softened or the box struggles in any way to maintain its shape.
  • Never use a water-damaged box. We mentioned this above, but it is worth repeating! Once a box has gotten wet, even just in one corner, it should never be used again. Water breaks down the composition of the cardboard itself, and the box will not be reliable. Water also invites mold growth. Even if no mold is visible on the box, it may be growing between the plies. Just say NO to water damaged boxes!

Reusable Boxes Are the Best Option

Let’s face it: cardboard boxes are a hassle! You can buy new ones—which adds up in cost pretty quickly—or you can spend time tracking down free ones that may not cut the mustard. Then, at the end of your move, you have to store the boxes or give them away, adding to the hassle.

Companies like Box Beaters provide a new way to pack for your move. Skip the cardboard altogether and rent their reusable plastic moving bins for about half the cost of buying new cardboard boxes. They’ll drop the bins off to your door on a steel dolly, with packing paper to put between your items inside the bins. No assembly required, and no packing tape required! They’ll even come pick up the bins after you’re done unpacking at your new location.

  • Less Work – Box Beaters drops off and picks up the plastic moving cartons, so you don’t need to track down boxes and pick them up yourself. There’s no assembly required, and you won’t have to mess around with packing tape.
  • Cleaner – Box Beaters disinfects the bins after every move. Hardly anyone ever disinfects cardboard!
  • More Stackable – The bins are much sturdier than cardboard boxes and are perfectly uniform in size. They travel more safely in moving trucks because they stack perfectly and never put any weight on the items inside.
  • More Sustainable – Cardboard boxes can be used a handful of times before they become worn out and can no longer be considered reliable for moving. Then they’re thrown away or recycled, requiring more manufacturing and cutting down trees. However, Box Beaters reusable bins can be used over and over again!
  • Lower Cost – The estimated cost of new moving boxes for a three-bedroom home is around $385. The same capacity in Box Beaters reusable moving boxes costs $190. And that includes delivery and pickup in many areas!

Move-tastic! Can Pack Your Boxes

Packing is one of Move-tastic!’s most popular services. We’ll send a crack team of moving professionals with Box Beaters reusable moving bins—or new cardboard boxes if you prefer—and pack up all the areas of your home that you wish.

When you hire Move-tastic! to pack for your move, you can rest assured that you’re hiring the very best. Our trained professionals can safely pack fragile items like dishware, framed art, and more. You can rest easy and spend more of your time doing what you do best.

Contact us today to talk to a human and get started planning your next Chicago move!

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