stacked boxes in large room

Don’t Save the Box

August 8, 2017

In our line of work we often see patterns in what people keep. Sometimes we speculate about these patterns and try to understand the logic behind them. Keep in mind, no one on our team is a therapist, doctor, statistician or demographer. We simply call it like we see it and often have a little fun with what we discover.

We have discovered that there is something about men and boxes. When men purchase an electronic device, small appliance, gadget, or tool of some kind, they almost always save the box the item came in. These boxes then live for all eternity in their attics or basements, collecting dust, getting musty, and taking up space. In fact, the box often out-lives its original contents!

This phenomenon piqued our curiosity, so we asked some of the men we’ve worked with to help us understand.  Here are the top four reasons they say they can’t let go:

  1. The box may include model numbers or contact information that could be needed one day.
  2. We might move someday, and when we do, it will be useful to have the box to pack things up properly.
  3. If I want to re-sell this thing, it will be worth more in its original packaging.
  4. I could use it to make something.

On the surface, these sound logical, but as organizers we like to dig a little deeper, so we explored each of these points.

  1. Model numbers and contact information: You may, in fact, need this information some day; however, to make the information easier to retrieve while taking up less space, try recording it in a notebook or binder, or even in an on line home-inventory application like Home Inventory (
  2. Moving: There is some truth to this one, but only for certain high-dollar, fragile items such as large screen TVs.  Moving boxes for TVs can cost around $100 at a moving supply company, so if you know you will be moving soon and your TV is new enough that you will definitely take it with you, keep the box.  However, if the box is infringing on your space and you don’t have any immediate plans to move, consider letting it go.
  3. Resale value: Yes, if you plan to resell your smart phone, game system, or other electronic gadget, having the original packaging can increase its appeal to buyers.  So how do you decide?  Think about how likely you are to want to sell the item as well as how likely you are to actually follow through with doing so.  Also, given how quickly technology becomes obsolete, if you are planning to keep your device for the long-term, the original packaging might not add enough to the overall price to be worth the space needed to store it.
  4. Repurposing: Some super crafty people could absolutely make some cool things out of electronics boxes!  However, the vast majority never get around to actually doing so.  Be realistic and honest with yourself.  Keeping an item in your home and never using it is not doing anyone any favors.  If you are not likely to follow through on using it, recycle the box and revel in the joy of knowing you have one less to-do on your list.

So, gentlemen, while we cannot definitively tell you to toss all of your boxes, we can say for certain that it is well worth going through your stash.  If you find boxes for things that have long since left for the electronic graveyard, send them on their way. Then, establish an annual “boxing day” to regularly clear out the new ones that inevitably find their way in.