Reusing shipping boxes is a good way to save trees, time and money. It's a common misconception that you are not allowed to reuse boxes when shipping items. Some carriers might not accept the boxes of other carriers. But you can always reuse any box in good condition, from any carrier, if you follow these simple instructions.
Locate all labels and Universal Product Codes, or UPC's, on the box.
Check that the box is still solid and not torn. If any holes or tears are visible, double-tape them on both sides with heavy packing tape.
Use a permanent black (or dark colored) marker to completely black out all bar codes and labels on the box.
Pack your shipment and secure it properly. Place your shipping label over the old, blacked-out shipping label.
Locate all UPC's and labels on the box.
Make sure the box is solid and not torn. If any holes or tears are visible, double-tape them on both sides with heavy packing tape.
Using your fingernail or a straight-edge razor, carefully peel up all edges of the labels.
Peel off the labels, using your fingernail or razor blade to ensure that any small pieces come off of the box entirely.
Pack your shipment and secure it properly. Place your shipping label on the box in the spot where the original shipping label was.
Turning the Box Inside Out
Find the seam of the box where it was connected by factory glue. This is usually visible by a brief overlap on the inside of the box. If no seem is visible, find the most vulnerable side of the box, perhaps a side with a hole or other deformity.
Carefully open the box, either by pulling the seam that was glued at the factory or by using scissors.
Fold the box the opposite way to turn it inside out. The blank inside of the box should now be the outside.
Use strong packing tape or packing glue to secure the cut seam of the box back together. Make sure to tape or glue the inside and the outside until the box seems sturdy and secure. If you use glue, allow long enough for the glue to dry, and then add a layer of tape over it to ensure the box's integrity.
Tape the bottom of the box with packing tape to ensure that the bottom will not give during shipping. It is also a good idea to tape around the four sides of the bottom of the box for extra reinforcement. Pack your shipment, secure it properly, tape up the box, and affix your shipping label to the now-clean outside of the box.
If the box you wish to reuse has a company name on the outside, you should always turn the box inside out to use it again.
You should not try to send a box with one carrier's name on the outside through a different carrier. Turn the box inside out instead.
If the box is not very thick, or if the shipping label gives you a lot of trouble during removal, it is possible that removing the label would weaken the strength of the box. When possible, reinforce this area if it seems to have been weakened.
Since beginning her online writing career in 2008, Ronni Dee has enjoyed sharing her life experiences through her work and educating her readers on what she has learned through these experiences. She has published numerous articles and short stories throughout her career on various websites.