25 New Uses for Old Egg Cartons

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Give a second life to your egg cartons with these ideas.


I wouldn’t consider myself a hoarder, except for when it comes to one thing: Egg cartons. For some reason, I cannot throw them away (or even in the recycling bin). I’m certain that I’ll need them for something. And I do use them on occasion, but just not at the same rate in which my family consumes eggs.

When my stack of egg cartons started getting dangerously close to the ceiling from their perch on the counter, my husband insisted that I either do something with them, or dispose of them. So, in an effort to keep the peace in our household, and to clear up some much-needed space in the corner of my kitchen, I’ve come up with a re-use idea for each of the 25 cartons in my collection. If you’ve got a similar compulsion with egg cartons, I’m sure you’ll find a few ways to make use of them!

  1. Use as a palette for paints (great for kids’ artwork).
  2. Donate to a local elementary or preschool for collages or art projects.
  3. Pass along to a friend or neighbor who keeps chickens (maybe they’ll return them to you, full of eggs!).
  4. Use as starters for seeds (the cardboard cartons can be planted right in the ground; clear plastic ones can be used with the lid as a mini-greenhouse.
  5. Sort and store tiny toy components, such as Barbie shoes or Lego pieces.
  6. Organize beads and findings for jewelry making.
  7. Make a Mancala game.
  8. Use as a mise en place tray for measured spices and other ingredients while cooking. Especially good when grilling outside!
  9. Use to line the bottom and tops of boxes for shipping or moving.
  10. Organize small bits of hardware like screws, bolts and nuts.
  11. Make fire starters for camping or grilling.
  12. Corral kids’ hair accessories like rubber bands, barrettes and bobby pins in a dresser drawer or medicine cabinet.
  13. Inverted, use a couple of cardboard cartons as a makeshift trivet.
  14. Compost cardboard egg cartons.
  15. Do craft projects with the kids. There are entire websites and Pinterest boards devoted to egg carton crafts, so clearly I’m not the only one with a hoarding issue!
  16. Transport deviled eggs to a party.
  17. Use as an iPad or smartphone prop in the kitchen so you can watch a video or read a recipe.
  18. Use the tops as drawer dividers in a kitchen.
  19. Paint or decorate and fill with candy instead of an Easter basket.
  20. Transport mini cupcakes, petit fours or tarts.
  21. Make a sorting activity. Give a preschooler a bowl filled with dry beans, pasta shapes, coffee beans and other small dried foods and let them sort them into the compartments.
  22. Use plastic or foam egg cartons as extra ice cube trays for a party.
  23. Use plastic lids as a windowsill garden for sprouting microgreens, or use as a base to catch drips for small potted plants.
  24. Store kids’ keepsakes for posterity. The sections are just the right size to store a lock of hair, the hospital bracelet, a first tooth and other tiny memorabilia.
  25. Just recycle them! Are you really going find the time to do all those crafts and organizing projects? If you’re in doubt, recycle your stash… chances are you’ll be able to rebuild it quickly if you get inspired.

What are some of your creative re-uses for the egg cartons that accumulate in your kitchen? Share them in the comments below!

Jessica Harlan

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Every Monday, I'll be here to share one, two, three… sometimes even ten! eco-friendly ideas at a time, so we can all do a little bit to save the Earth.

When I'm not making lists, I'm taking care of my two daughters, volunteering in my community, and writing articles about food and cooking — I'm the author of three cookbooks: Ramen to the Rescue, Tortillas to the Rescue, and Quinoa Cuisine (co-written with Kelley Sparwasser), and my fourth, Homemade Condiments, will be available in Fall 2013.


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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

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  • Bonnie S. 10 days ago
    Can use the foam cartons to mix olive oil and herbs to freeze for recipe use.
  • Nichole G. 9 months ago
    LOVE these Ideas. I have a bunch of paperboard ones. SOME may get recycled, others will be turned into seed starters for herbs for my daycare kids to take home.
  • Joseph A. 9 months ago
    good ideas
  • Maureen T. 10 months ago
    Great for storing ear rings
  • Greener G. 10 months ago
    I wouldn't use cardboard egg cartons to transport food, ever, but if your friends don't mind eating from that....hey, to each his own.

    I like reuse cardboard egg cartons, but I sterilize them.

    Preheat oven to 180. Open egg cartons and lay them on both oven shelves, open, or you may tear them in half, but don't stack. 45 minutes (set timer). Will smell a slight hot paper smell, but it's not bad, nor is there a fire or smoke risk.

    Remove from oven and repeat. Now your cartons are sterlized. Once they sit out, they are cardboard and WILL absorb moisture from the air, but the pathogens (specifically, salmonella) will have been killed.

    I stacked two open cartons at the lids upside down to make a 3-row stack. I then tore the other cartons apart, and used the "egg" side stacked at the egg end. Hope this makes sense. I then used this as an....

    elevated laptop stand on a bookshelf (set just below elbow height) to create a standing laptop workstation, as we sit too much on our computers (we homescool the kids, and school is online).

    Anyway, you can put some cork discs (cut from corks) or rubber under the carton to be sure it doesn't slide, but I recommend moving your laptop when you are not standing there, to be safe.

    Anyway, lots to do with these...just sterilize first, and avoid using for food for best sanitary practice :-)
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