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Cardboard Boxes in Shops
Campaign to bring back Free cardboard boxes available in supermarkets

There Should be cardboard boxes available in shops, for collection by people who want to use them. In the early days of supermarkets, it was quite usual to see a big pile of cardboard boxes near the exit, for customers to grab and re-use, mainly to help to cart away their shopping, but there was a public-spiritedness to the whole "free cardboard box" idea, so anyone could come along and help themselves if they had a good use for some secondhand cardboard boxes.

Some of the cardboard boxes were better than others. Boxes that had previously been used for heavy goods, or expensive goods, or heavy expensive goods, were higher quality cardboard than lightweight and/or lower priced goods. The best were those for bottles of alcoholic drinks, lard, videorecorders, etc. The poorest were for crisps. However, with a keen eye for box rigidity, the wise customer could select a quality cardboard box and re-use it. Not only was the box used for delivering the goods to the supermarket, and for getting the customer's purchases home, but it would almost certainly get re-used again for storing things.

So, what has happened to cardboard boxes in shops? Is it that they have gone out of fashion? Has it somehow been made illegal by yet another stupid European law? No, the main culprit seems to be... Recycling! Yes, amazingly, the positive eco-friendly idea of saving the environment by recycling materials such as cardboard, has led to the supermarkets destroying all cardboard boxes before the customers can get their hands on them. Now obviously this is absurd, because as we all know, re-use is far more efficient than recycling! It's much more pro-environmental (a lower Carbon Footprint) to have an item such as a cardboard box used, re-used, and re-used again, than it is to have it mashed up into pulp and turned into something else.

I, as someone who is moving house, have in my possession somewhere in the region of three thousand cardboard boxes, with my stuff packed in them ready to ship. (I am a hoarder. Hoarding is good!). However, more recently I have had to go to more devious lengths to acquire the cardboard boxes, as most mainstream shops just do not have any. Instead, they have waste skips full of destroyed cardboard boxes going off to be recycled.

Some supermarkets get special blame on this. In some Asda stores, managers have been heard to say that they don't want the customers to have the cardboard boxes because recycling takes a higher priority. That's about as stupid as refusing to give someone a free glass of water when they are thirsty, on the grounds that you need fresh water to flush shit down the toilet.

On a similar basis to the way free range eggs are being brought back into fashion by public pressure, I intend to get cardboard boxes put back into fashion in shops! It's good for the environment, and it makes good economic sense. Have you ever tried to BUY a cardboard box?! To get an idea of this, take a look at the Post Office and see how much money they expect for a cardboard box, and then imagine a free Asda Gin box in the supermarket free for the taking. Spot the economic sense. Also, if you're moving house, you may discover to your cost, that removals companies often charge quite a lot for cardboard boxes. Now admittedly it's good quality cardboard, and it's of consistent size, but in my opinion it doesn't beat the stacks of free VHS Videorecorder boxes that used to be piled up behind the TV Shop.

I suggest we lobby supermarkets into giving away cardboard boxes to customers again! Nothing drastic is required; instead, just a polite hint to the cashiers on each visit, and sooner or later the management will start to take notice.

In the meantime, where do you get cardboard boxes, free, for your own use, for storage and removal of stuff? Essentially, I have found that there are typically several shops which have cardboard boxes as a waste product, and they're often stuck for something to do with them. The bosses of such places are often glad to find someone coming along with an empty van and a desire to put some cardboard to good use! The sorts of places are independent retailers, usually places whose actual customers don't take away goods in boxes, and sometimes they are on industrial estates where the councils are daft enough to class cardboard as "industrial waste" and to attempt to charge the businesses stupid amounts to take away the cardboard which they insist on destroying rather than allowing the re-use of.

Soon, the locations of the premises of these cardboard hotspots becomes known to us seekers of quality cardboard, and so then every now and then it's "Let's go for a visit to the Cardboarderie!".

The word "Cardboarderie" is a Franglais word adopted after the style of French shop-types such as Boulangerie (baker), Animalerie (petshop), etc. However, the irony is that the shops termed "Cardboarderie" Boxesare not actually vendors of cardboard, and are instead places that are glad to see cardboard boxes being taken away to a good home. Whatever their main line of business be, whether it be chandeliers, pots of paint, computer monitors, wines and spirits, the cardboard is a secondary thing, and there is a certain maverick opportunist spirit to going hunting cardboard at such places.

The bottom line is that despite whatever Europeanistic ISO9002'ish wasteful lawful destruction principles are in place, we are defeating the convention and still managing to acquire cardboard to use for our own purposes!

Please note that Plastic Supermarket Bags are no substitute, and are much worse environmentally!