He Says/She Says: Product Boxes

He Says/She Says: Product Boxes

When we were scouring NYC for an apartment back in November, our biggest priority was space. Neither of us cared about any bells and whistles; we just didn’t want to feel (too) cramped with two kids. One of the biggest perks to the apartment we now call home is that it came with a huge storage locker in the basement. Four feet wide, six feet deep, and ten feet tall — that kind of extra space is unheard of ’round these parts.

But since moving in, that glorious storage locker has been defiled — used for something so worthless that I can barely utter it aloud. One of us — the one that’s not me — has filled our storage locker with empty product boxes. Yes, you read that right. A significant portion of our storage locker is being used for EMPTY boxes. The TV box, iMac box, keyboard box, KitchenAid box, Playstation box, and printer box are all housed down there — among others.

These boxes are dusted off and brought out of darkness only when we move because Johnny insists that no other box except the original could keep our items their very safest. Our iMac, which we bought at the beginning of 2010, has had its box follow us all over the country. Starting in Utah, it’s traveled to New York, Boston, North Carolina, back to Utah, and now back to New York. Johnny swears by his saving of product boxes and plans to do it for the rest of our lives. He thinks it keeps our products safe and argues that if we were ever to sell one of the said products, having the box would be appealing to a potential buyer.

I, on the other hand, find his strange obsession to be a form of hoarding, and I think he should seek help. There are moving boxes of all shapes and sizes these days. And with enough styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap, I’m certain I could ensure safe transport of any and all of our prized possessions without the original box. And in general, I like to throw things away. I get a certain thrill from it, which leads to a constant tug of war in our house between keeping things and throwing them out. It possibly also leads to me throwing things out while Johnny’s at work and never telling him about it.

But the product boxes? Those stay. If I even touched one while Johnny was away, he would know.

I can hear it now…

Johnny: Did you touch Carl? (He’s likely named them by this point.)

Me: Yes… NO! I don’t know!

Johnny: I swear if you ever do anything to him… 

And so, we agree to disagree. Johnny continues to hoard his product boxes, and I’ve reluctantly accepted his cardboard children into our family. Where do you stand? Are you a fellow product box hoarder? Or, like this reasonable gal, do you throw those cardboard children to the curb without so much as a second glance? There’s no middle ground… you’re either with me or against me.

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  • Reply Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank January 28, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Empty boxes? I just throw it away if it really occupies much space. Why keep it when takes so much space in the room? My reason is that it’s just a box and has no use. Naming a box “Carl”? Seriously? Haha! That line makes me smile. 😀

    • Reply Joanna January 30, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      Ha, okay so I may have been exaggerating a little on the naming of the boxes. But it’s still gone too far!

  • Reply Brian January 28, 2015 at 7:29 am

    I only keep really large boxes because they come in handy when you have to move. Since you are still fairly transient, these type of boxes are great, plus you can fill them up with all your smaller boxes!

    • Reply Joanna January 30, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      True… We have been very transient the past few years… A very reluctant point to Johnny :).

  • Reply Lili January 28, 2015 at 7:44 am

    In the middle of getting quotes to move from Boston to the South and a couple of movers have told me original boxes for TVs and computer is best. We bought a special TV box to move here and it worked fine but have our iMac box in a closet…empty.

    • Reply Joanna January 30, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Good to know! Admittedly, when it comes to moving, I’m always happy we have the boxes. But when it comes to storing them, not so much!

  • Reply C@thesingledollar January 28, 2015 at 8:03 am

    LOL! I’m sorry, I do have to stake out middle ground 🙂 When I lived in NYC I never had a storage locker (lucky you!) and threw out almost all boxes. However, now that I have a basement available, I have indeed kept some product boxes. They don’t take up enough space that it’s impeding the rest of my life and I do like the idea of having the original box/packing available for when I inevitably move. When I was at home at Christmas though, I went through my parents’ attic and got rid of product boxes for things they haven’t owned in fifteen years or so. The giant boxes from the monitor/computer I took to college with me were up there! I have no idea where that thing even is anymore! RECYCLED.

    • Reply Joanna January 30, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      Fair enough. That’s my biggest fear!!… Having an attic full of 15-year-old boxes someday!

  • Reply Yvann January 28, 2015 at 8:08 am

    If it was expensive (i.e. worth claiming the warranty/taking it back if it breaks) and you need the box for that, then we keep it for 6 mths/1 yr. We kept the box for the desktop computer for 4 years (through 2 moves), and finally threw it out when we moved to this house as we’ll be here for 2 years and it’s unlikely the computer will survive until then. Otherwise we’re pretty ruthless on the boxes.
    (see, I can agree with both of you? I think?)

    • Reply Joanna January 30, 2015 at 9:11 pm

      We’ve had the computer box so long that we might as well keep that one forever… The rest, though? I could do without ’em!

  • Reply stephanie January 28, 2015 at 8:13 am

    nope, toss them out!

    • Reply Joanna January 30, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      That’s right! 🙂

  • Reply TT January 28, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Oh boy… big box keepers over here. I think the value in keeping boxes is less the appropriately sized cardboard, but more the packaging inside that keeps everything protected while in transit. Also, the value in keeping them is when you know you will be moving around some. We have a computer monitor and desktop box that has moved with us from California, to Utah, to Illinois, back to California, and now to Texas. Every time I’ve been extremely happy that we had them. We’re now at a point where I don’t expect to move every two years, so now I am less likely to worry about keeping boxes. Also, if we move again it will likely be professional movers doing the job, and the liability for breaking stuff will be on them. I agree there is a storage cost, but often times people aren’t efficiently using the space they have. Top shelf of the coat closet all the way to the ceiling? Under the bed? It becomes an exercise in real life Tetris–fun!

    • Reply Joanna January 31, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      Oh gosh, Johnny is all about real-life Tetris. I think he almost prefers small-space living for that very reason. I’ll grudgingly admit we’re not settled yet, so it’s probably good for us to keep a few boxes for now. Although, as soon as we’re in a house of our own, I’ll be secretly throwing them out one by one!

  • Reply Kevin January 28, 2015 at 8:48 am

    I’m with Johnny! TV, iMac, and Printer boxes are all staying!

    • Reply Joanna January 31, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      Great… the last thing he needs is affirmation!

  • Reply Suzanne January 28, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Product boxes – we toss them. Never been a problem in our moves (local and recent cross country). I will say that for our recent cross country move we purchased special boxes/packing materials for large pieces of art (that never came with boxes). We broke them down and put them in our store room. If we didn’t have the store room – or they didn’t break down so easily – they would have been tossed too. But using space in NY for empty boxes – makes me ill. The cost of saving/storing them (cost of storage space) – it is cheaper to buy special boxes later.

    • Reply Joanna January 31, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      Yes! I should calculate how much the space of those boxes “costs” us in rent each month and present it to Johnny. Every single inch of space is so precious out here!

  • Reply Taylor Lee January 28, 2015 at 9:08 am

    I keep product boxes for the big appliances I know will need it- TV, AC unit (which we pack/unpack every year). So I guess I’m with Johnny on this one!

    • Reply Joanna January 31, 2015 at 11:42 pm

      Boooo. Although, if you know you’re gonna need a box twice a year, like your AC unit, I can *kind of* understand.

  • Reply Joe January 28, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Haha! This sounds like my wife and I. I keep ’em all. We were just cleaning out a closet to make space for more storage (a baby on the way!) and I might have to part with the TV box I’ve saved for 7 years. 🙁

    • Reply Joanna January 31, 2015 at 11:44 pm

      Seven years! That must be some kind of record. I’m sure the parting will be bittersweet, but you’re doing the right thing!! And congrats on the baby on the way!

  • Reply Nicole January 28, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Haha, this is hysterical. The ONLY box I would contemplate keeping is the TV box, assuming we were going to move someday. Everything else is recycled immediately. It is a huge pet peeve of mine when I put boxes in the garage for recycling and then my husband decides he needs to keep them for some future “project.” Waste of space! Major clutter! No no no!

    • Reply Joanna January 31, 2015 at 11:49 pm

      Haha, glad I’m not alone! I wish boxes were the only thing Johnny saved for future projects (that never come to fruition). He’s given up most of his hoarding ways in this tiny apt, but I don’t even want to think of all the things he’ll want to save once we have an entire garage to store it in!

  • Reply Jen January 28, 2015 at 9:35 am

    I’m with Johnny on this one, especially considering how much you two move! I’m a fellow purger, but there is something about trying to find the perfect box when moving time rolls around that always leads to stress. I save two types of boxes: product boxes for things that could easily get damaged during a move and have boxes uniquely designed to house said item (TVs, glassware, etc.); I also save any and all paper boxes I come across. They are the PERFECT size for packing items, and are of uniform size, which saves on space because you aren’t fitting boxes together like Tetris.

    • Reply Joanna January 30, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Oh great! Johnny’s gonna read your comment and start saving paper boxes, too! 😉

  • Reply Jim McMahan January 28, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Keep a few boxes, break them down so they are flat and store them vertically on the side of your storage area. Throw away the packing material and buy more the next time you move.

    • Reply Joanna January 30, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      Yep! Good plan.

  • Reply M.C. Sommers January 28, 2015 at 9:37 am

    I am dying. I had to read this aloud to my husband. This is one of the very few things we have to agree to disagree on. Nate said Johnny is a very smart man.

    • Reply Joanna January 31, 2015 at 11:50 pm

      Nooooo… unless by “very smart man” he means “crazy hoarder of cardboard children.”

  • Reply Sara January 28, 2015 at 9:58 am

    I’d definitely keep the TV box, if nothing else. If you have professional movers, they normally require that you have it and if not charge a ridiculous amount to supply one for you! Maybe breaking the boxes down and storing them flat would be a compromise?

    • Reply Joanna January 31, 2015 at 11:53 pm

      I will present this idea to Johnny, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he feels like this would compromise the boxes in some way. His boxes are a very serious matter.

  • Reply Jennifer January 28, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Throw them! Throw them! Throw them!

  • Reply Brian January 28, 2015 at 10:08 am

    In the spring and summer I throw them out, but in the winter or fall I burn them in my fireplace for cheap heating. Enough boxes from amazon and the heating bill just disappears! Haha

    • Reply Joanna January 31, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      How very multi-purpose of you! With how often we order from Amazon, we’d be set for the whole winter!

  • Reply Aldo @ Million Dollar Ninja January 28, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I only keep certain boxes for a short period of time in case I need to return something. Other than that, I get rid of them… but yet again, I don’t have that much space in my apartment.

    It is true that things have a better resell value with the original box, but I usually buy things expecting to use it until it breaks. A box wouldn’t help me in that situation.

    • Reply Joanna January 31, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      I almost wish we didn’t have the storage locker in the basement at all because then maybe Johnny would have been forced to say goodbye to some of his boxes. The locker enables him!

  • Reply Newlyweds on a Budget January 28, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    omg my husband does this too!!! for the exact same reasons. When we moved from our townhome into our house, I put my foot down though and said the product boxes had to go…but now we have a whole garage to store stuff…ugh!

    • Reply Joanna January 31, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      Haha, so good to know he’s not the only one. I think moving into a house is going to make Johnny feel so empowered with saving stuff. It scares me!

  • Reply Terri January 28, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Haha we have the same problem. We’ve had our iMac box since 2012! I actually hate having these empty boxes lying around. They take up so much space!!! You could break it down into a flat piece and slide it behind a cabinet or something so you can use it for later. That’s what we do.

    But I think you’ve convinced me that it’s time to throw out my boxes!

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:00 am

      Yay! If only I could convince Johnny of the same. We’ll see if he’s willing to break the boxes down… something tells me he’ll resist that idea, too!

  • Reply Mark AW January 28, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    If you need the space to store other things, break them down to minimize space, or store inside of each other. But if you don’t need the space for something else, no harm in keeping them. It’s mainly the odd size boxes, i.e. flat box for TV, that would be useful to keep. If it is somewhat normal rectangle/square box, recycle. And since you guys do move a lot, it makes more sense to keep. Once you get a house that you will be in for an extended period of time, then you can recycle more boxes. Or try to sell them on Craigslist to other people moving!

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:01 am

      We do move a lot… I’ll give you that. You better believe as soon as we buy a place, those boxes will be gone for good! I’ll have to emotionally prepare Johnny for months for that day…

  • Reply Amber January 28, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    We moved in a few months ago and our entire basement is cluttered with empty boxes. We will be recycling all of them as soon as we get around to it!

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:01 am

      That’s what I’m afraid of… the more space we have, the more boxes that will pile up!

  • Reply Anne January 28, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    I’m in the middle, I would keep the TV box with the foam for moving since the screens are delicate, and I’ll hang onto boxes for pricey items still under warranty like my KA mixer. But a keyboard, computer, or console box? No way Jose! While having the boxes *could* increase resale value, if you’ve moved this much and kept them I don’t think they’re getting new owners 😉

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:11 am

      The resale value excuse is just another way for him to avoid the real issue — he’s a hoarder! 😉 But at this point, I’ve had years to accept these boxes into our marriage, so I guess I’m okay with it.

  • Reply Kelsey January 28, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    We definitely keep them for a certain amount of time once we buy something new, just in case it breaks/malfunctions, as technology is known to do. But otherwise, we usually toss most of them. I get a thrill from it as well! We aren’t in a stable home yet, so sometimes keeping the boxes for a few items helps in the process of moving. The only ones we have are our surround sound and PS4. We used to have more, but I was sick of storing them, so they’re gone now!

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:15 am

      I probably have a problem, too, because of how much I love throwing stuff out! Admittedly, a few times, I’ve thrown things and regretted it later. But those boxes? I wouldn’t regret it ever.

  • Reply Suzanne January 28, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    I’m with you Joanna! I defo think that I have OCD traits and I couldn’t bear to have boxes lying around!!! I always say “tidy house, tidy mind” !!!!! However………… If the boxes are not in your way or you don’t see them, maybe its okay???? In case you and johnny are keeping tabs on whose with who, in the interests of girl power, I’m with you!! Men totally think differently to women, I can imagine it all makes perfect sense to johnny! My boyfriend has a ‘man drawer’! There’s so many wires (for nothing), nearly flat batteries (ridiculous!), useless artefacts and other senseless items, I just can’t look at it, it drives me insane! As long as I don’t have to see it, I can just about bear it!!!

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:18 am

      Oh man… Johnny’s the same way. If something could be useful in some way at some point, he will try to justify keeping it. He was pretty good about purging when we downsized to this NYC apartment, except with the boxes.

      And too true… at least they’re out of my sight! Although, if and when the time comes that I need that space for something else, we might have to duel it out!

  • Reply Maddie January 28, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    The only product box I have kept since we were married is the kitchenaid stand mixer box. It sat on top of the nasty kitchen cupboards in our NYC apartment and when we moved this summer, it was so awesome to be able to slide that huge oddly shaped sucker into the styrofoam forms and slide it into the box. Definitely worth it. Other than that, TV’s can be wrapped with blankets, as can computers and other large electronics so I don’t worry about those boxes past the normal hanging on in case a problem comes up.

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:20 am

      It is a rather nifty box. I get a strange satisfaction when I pack that KitchenAid in that box (which I’ve done several times now thanks to all of our moving). But I’d never concede this point to Johnny because he’d just feel even more empowered!

  • Reply Rob January 28, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Well Joanna, I guess you have to ask yourself a few questions. Truthfully, how long do you feel that you will be staying in your present location? Do you need that storage space for more important stuff? Do you guys feel the need to regularly de-clutter or do you prefer to hang on to stuff (perhaps for sentimental reasons)? As has been suggested, would a compromise solution (ie., “thinking outside the box” – I know, bad pun – lol) work (such as flattening down each box and/or storing small boxes inside bigger boxes)?

    At our house, long ago we figured that we wouldn’t be moving again – for a long long time – so our practice is to hang on to our “Carls” for the length of each box’s product warranty (ie., a few years at most), after which time we dispose of good ole Carl at the next recycle garbage pickup. Of course, to put things in context, you guys only have a storage locker whereas we have a nice big garage for storage, if not to store our car in – lol.

    All that said of course, you also have to think of the future hours of “secret fort” pleasure that Sal (and her soon-to-be-sis-on-the-way) could have playing with Carl and his “siblings”! 🙂

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:22 am

      I MAY need that storage space for more important stuff in the future. For now, I will allow those boxes to continue their free room and board in that locker. But their day of reckoning will come…

  • Reply Emily N. January 28, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Another box-keeper here! Not for everything, mind you, but for fragile/heavy/awkwardly shaped items. So I’ve kept boxes for the Kitchen Aid mixer, the 12 china place settings, the printer, and maybe a couple other things. Husband and I are hoping to move this year, so those boxes should come in handy! I

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:24 am

      I think that’s the ONLY reason I let Johnny continue with his box hoarding ways… we still aren’t settled and will likely move again before long. But as soon as we buy our first house and put down roots, those boxes are getting the boot!

  • Reply Rachel January 28, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I tend to keep them until the warranty period is up, just in case I need to return the item for repairs – being able to stick it in a box that is automatically the right size for it always makes things easier! Once the warranty period is over the box is tossed (or used as a box to cart donations to charity). That said, I only tend to keep the boxes for significant (as in they cost more than $300-400) kitchen appliances – stand mixer, coffee machine etc. I didn’t keep the TV box or the laptop box.

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:26 am

      The smaller boxes don’t bother me as much. But the TV box? It’s so obnoxiously huge. We could almost store our whole family inside it.

  • Reply EcoCatLady January 29, 2015 at 2:15 am

    I am totally relieved to know that there is someone on this planet who is even crazier about product boxes than I am! Like Rachel commented above, I always keep them for at least a few months in case I have to send something back – and then I sometimes forget about them and they end up hanging around for even longer. But I totally can’t imagine holding onto them for as long as I own the product! That’s totally crazypants!

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:28 am

      I wish it were just for a few months. Several of the boxes have been around for 3+ years… longer than we’ve had Sally! That just ain’t right.

  • Reply Char January 29, 2015 at 4:35 am

    I’m (mostly) with Johnny on this one. Boxes create “legitimacy” for high-dollar items such as iPads, dSLR cameras, iMacs, MacBooks, iPhones, etc. I for one resell when I upgrade my cell phone, which makes having the product box very handy. After 5 years or so, my computer gets sluggish so I buy a new one. But there are folks that purchase used/old electronics all the timea nd they often pay more when if you have the original boxes, manuals, equipment! It probably also reassures them that the product is not stolen. I guess if one is planning on holding onto things until they break, then being a box hoarder might not make sense.

    I have moved yearly since 2006 (during college, out of undergrad, back home, to grad school, back home, for work, for fiance, etc.). If I own a big flat screen TV, I’d probably toss the box. I’d probably kick myself though for not keeping the box, if and when, I do need to move with a 50+ inch TV.

    Johnny must be an expert at repacking things. Sometimes I have a difficult times getting things back in the way they came which also makes the product box useless for moving purposes =)

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:30 am

      Johnny, is that you? Seriously, you guys sound just like each other. I swear I’ve hard Johnny say almost everything you just said verbatim. And he takes the repacking very seriously… unfortunately, I’m always recruited as his unwilling assistant.

  • Reply Sarah January 29, 2015 at 10:47 am

    I thought I was alone in this. My husband is a box-hoarder as well. Product boxes and shoe boxes (because you know, these are PERFECT for packing small items when we move….and taking up all available shelf-space in closets.) So don’t feel bad, you are not suffering alone. And I too will take the opportunity to *gasp* throw some of them away when he’s out of town. 😉

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:33 am

      Shoe boxes! Johnny throws these out, but only at my insistence. He always asks me 5+ times if I’m sure I want to get rid of a shoe box. YES I’M SURE!

      Glad I’m not alone!

      • Reply Sarah February 1, 2015 at 3:34 pm

        Roman: Are you sure you want to throw away this box?
        Me: Positive.
        Roman: Are you really sure?
        Me: Absolutely.
        Roman: But it seems like such a great size and-

        The struggle is so real.

  • Reply Tarynkay January 29, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    We usually let our three year old play with the product boxes in the living room until they are destroyed. Then they go in the recycle bin. Someone told me once that saving cardboard encourage roaches and rats, so even though we have an attic, I don’t like to store cardboard boxes.

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:36 am

      That’s something Sally loves, too. If that’s true about roaches and rats, I’m especially glad those boxes are in a storage locker in the basement. NYC is crawling with both of those vermin, and I will do whatever it takes to keep them out of my home!

  • Reply Gene January 30, 2015 at 9:58 am

    For gadgets we keep them because there’s a possibility of selling it in the future. Weirdly enough, in our country those boxes could add value to a product. Perhaps it reassures the buyer that it’s not stolen or fake. We also keep big boxes that can be used as extra storage. Another are if the box is too pretty (usually from kids’s shoes) can be used for closet/drawer organization or used as a box for gifting. If it’s something we cannot repurpose will have to go.

    What I can’t let go are those good and pretty paperbags from shops. I remind myself that i’ll use it one of these days but I keep on using the eco bags instead.

    • Reply Joanna February 1, 2015 at 12:38 am

      Ha, I’m actually a sucker for pretty boxes and bags, too! Someday, I hope to have a craft room filled with them. For now, I throw them out because of our tiny living quarters. Now if I could just get Johnny to do the same with the product boxes…

  • Reply Angie February 7, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Joanna! I love this post so much! Right now our babies nursery is being used as a temporary storage space for all of our empty product boxes. I swear our husbands are the same person. I will say though that it was really great being able to pack our TV, iMac, kitchenaid, and other fragile appliances in their boxes. And Klane seems to have figured out a pretty good nesting system in which he stores certain boxes within other boxes. We’ve been able to get by storing most of them under our bed, and in our last apartment stacked some above our kitchen cabinets because we had such high ceilings. The high ceilings are no more, so babies’ closet may be partially dedicated to boxes that can’t fit under our bed. I am thinking back over our move… We could probably stand not to keep the crock pot box, and the le cruset box. I’m just hoping Klane’s puzzling, Tetris and nesting skills are sharpened and he can condense that giant pile of boxes into something a little more manageable.

    • Reply Joanna February 8, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      Haha, oh great. The last thing Johnny needs is a partner in crime. And I know… it is super nice when we’re moving. But when we’re not moving, it’s the WORST. As long as they’re out of sight, I suppose I will continue to allow this horrible thing. Babies don’t need much closet space, so hopefully there will be room for both!

  • Reply Emily-Jane @ Not A House, But A Home February 8, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I’m definitely a box hoarder! They come in so handy when we move, which is pretty much annually

    • Reply Joanna February 8, 2015 at 10:06 pm

      If we didn’t move so often, I would have thrown them all out by now. As soon as we’re settled in a home, they’re going out with the trash!

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