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7 Ways to Reuse Empty Tissue Boxes

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Get creative with an empty tissue box. Here are 7 easy ideas.

During allergy season I go through box after box of tissues. And while I hate using up all those paper tissues, I think the only earth-friendly way I’m willing to mop up a constantly running nose is to buy recycled tissue — to me, handkerchiefs are, well, icky (although I am a bit tempted by the products from Hankybook) — and that still leaves me with a lot of used tissues and tissue boxes.

The least I can do is put the empty boxes to good use. And luckily, if you think outside the, er, box, you can find plenty of ways to use them. Here are a few ways that I’ve found to put these sturdy little cardboard cubes and rectangles to good use.

1. Plastic Bag Dispenser: Even though I try to be scrupulous about toting my reusable shopping bags to the supermarket, sometimes I don’t have them on hand, so I end up amassing a stash of plastic shopping bags. I stuff them into an empty tissue box and keep them under the sink so I can grab and go when I need that plastic bag for disposing of kitty litter or rounding up the trash in my car.

2. Holiday Card Drop: For Valentine’s Day, Halloween and other occasions, the kids at my daughter’s preschool always exchange cards or tiny gifts. In the days before the holiday they’ll decorate boxes to use as “mailboxes.” The larger, rectangular tissue boxes, with their built-in opening, are the perfect receptacles. The children can decorate them by wrapping them with paper or painting them.

3. Money Collector: For bake sales or other fundraising events, a square or rectangular tissue box is the perfect vessel for collecting change or small-bill donations. Wrap it in paper and then cut out around the opening, and make a sign for the front of the box explaining what the funds will be used for.

4. Car Trash Receptacle: A large tissue box can serve as a trashcan for a car; it’ll keep dirty napkins, food wrappers, receipts and other scraps corralled until you can pitch the whole box in the trash.

5. Giant Blocks: Want to make a cool block set? Spread the word amongst friends and family to save tissue boxes of all shapes and sizes. Then wrap each in used wrapping paper or newspaper and let your kids paint and decorate them as you see fit. The big blocks are particularly fun for toddler-aged kids who will love knocking down giant towers and walls, without the fear of getting hurt.

6. Rag Holder: I like to cut up old, stained T-shirts into little squares to use as cleaning rags, and I’ve found that an old tissue box is the perfect way to corral them all. You can put a nail in the wall of the closet in which you keep your cleaning supplies, and spear the box onto the nail, so it hangs within easy reach.

7. Kids’ Crafts: Like any other box, a tissue box has limitless possibilities in the eyes of a creative kid. I’ve seen a wealth of tissue-box projects ranging from monster feet to a guitar to a marshmallow catapult.

What creative ways have you put empty tissue boxes to good use? Share your best ideas 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. more
  • Maria C. 1 year ago
    great ideas
  • Kristina A. 2 years ago
    Great ideas!
  • Elisha E. 3 years ago
    I place empty tissue boxes next to our bathroom wastebaskets, to collect empty cardboard TP tubes, and in the laundry room to collect dryer lint & dryer sheets. The tissue boxes full of TP tubes can be recycled, composted, or used in the firepit. The tissue boxes full of lint and/or dryer sheets can be discarded or used in the firepit.
  • John W. 3 years ago
    A cube-shaped tissue box by our recliner and glider serve as waste containers (snack wrappers, tissues, popcorn "old maids"). I removed the plastic under the opening, then cut diagonally into each corner of the top and glued the resulting flaps to the inside so that the top of each box is fully open. The boxes are already nicely decorated, and they get emptied twice a week before trash pickup day.
  • Alice M. 4 years ago
    I used tissue boxes and paper cartons to build a Christmas fireplace decoration for the office.
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