Adventures in Cardboard


Remember the good ol’ days of local kids getting together? Having an adventure? Using their imaginations instead of plugging into the nearest tablet or computer? Being outside for a change?

It seems like an eternity between the days when kids were begging to go outside and play, gathering up props and materials that would become swords and costumes. And it’s not just on the kids’ end–parents find it harder and harder to be able to facilitate these adventures what with work schedules.

Fortunately, there’s a group that’s doing something about it. And they’re doing it with cardboard.

lillianworkingIt’s called Adventures in Cardboard, an organization that aims to end “nature deficit disorder” by hosting workshops and events for youth from around the Twin Cities area. A large part of these workshops consist of activities like Arms & Armor and Giant Castle in which corrugated cardboard plays a big part. Boxes are turned into swords and armor. Spires and helmets. Local playgrounds are decorated with OCC (old corrugated cardboard) to create giant castles. The kids don cardboard armor and play out adventures, flexing both their imaginations and art skills.

Corrugated packaging like cardboard boxes is ideal for things like this. Pinterest is filled with ideas for cardboard box art, crafts, even furniture. What makes it so great is the low cost and the fact that it’s eco-friendly. It’s 100% recyclable nature makes it the perfect material for an organization like Adventures in Cardboard to use. On top of these features, history shows us that there’s just something about cardboard that unlocks the imagination. It’s something everyone seems to have access to and is great for so many versatile uses.

These same reasons make it great for custom boxes as well.

Currently, Adventures in Cardboard is running an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for a sort of scholarship which would allow even more children to attend. Children that normally could not. Visit the link above for more info, and check out Sunrise Packaging’s blog for more ideas on what to do with corrugated cardboard.

Images: Julian McFaul/Adventures in Cardboard

6 Eco Friendly Ideas for Post-Consumer Corrugated Cardboard



So What Do You Do with Your Custom Corrugated Boxes After They Serve Their Purpose?


Recycle them, of course. That’s obvious. We all know that generating post-consumer waste is nearly unavoidable in the retail market, but corrugated cardboard is an eco friendly post-consumer fiber that is easily recycled. And it’s place in retail as light-but-durable packaging is widely celebrated.


But how are you going to recycle it? I’m not talking about the route you take to the recycling center. I’m talking about the step in between. You know about that step, right? The part where your post-consumer corrugated cardboard becomes the key to crafting? The doorway to imagination? I mean, you’ve heard about that, right?


Custom corrugated boxes are eco friendly. But they’re also kid friendly. You’ve seen it before: some birthday or Christmas where the box gets more mileage than the toy inside. Kids love cardboard. Parents: don’t be discouraged by this–embrace it! Get that kid a box and let them go hog wild!


Recently, I wrote about how corrugated cardboard has been vital to prototyping my own board game. Yes, the cardboard box has become coveted in my household. Brown Gold, we call it. But it got me thinking: there’s a lot of awesome ways for kids to use corrugated cardboard boxes that can be quite beneficial to their creativity (and the environment). Here’s a few, just off the top of my head.


Make a Puzzlepost-consumer corrugated cardboard for custom board games and puzzles

Puzzles are one of the most timeless toys in history. Going to the store to pick one out is fun…but how about making one? Take a piece of corrugated cardboard and either draw right on it, or glue on a picture. Flip it over and sketch out the pieces. The cutting part might need a little supervision–or maybe an adult with an Exacto knife–but at the end, you’ll have a thick, sturdy puzzle made to your exact specifications. Definitely a good project for a rainy afternoon.

Make a “Layer Sculpture”

Keep those scissors handy. Break down some corrugated cardboard boxes and cut out a base for your sculpture. Essentially, you’re going to become a 3-D printer, crafting your little statue layer by layer from the ground up. Stencil out the next piece so that it fits within the confines of the base, and so on and so on. Eventually with a little stacking and glue, you’ll have a layer sculpture. A castle spire, the Statue of Liberty. You can even make yourself that Academy Award you’ve always deserved.


Make a Giant Interactive Board Game

Now this use for corrugated cardboard will really get you moving around! Breakdown a repurposed cardboard box or two. Or three, or four, or five. (A good old B-Flute RSC Box would be perfect.) Use the flaps as spaces for a giant board game. Get out the markers and crayons to add rules and regulations to the spaces. Collect 200 Pennies or Win a Candy Bar or whatever! Half the fun of making a board game is making up the rules. And making a giant, fully-interactive board game that can go around the house, through the yard, or all of the above will definitely getting the creative motors running. And don’t forget the giant cardboard box dice! 


Make Room!

Sure this is fun for kids, but it’s also good for parents, right? Use some repurposed cardboard boxes to create a den of storage cubbies. Or turn existing shelving a little more personal and private by creating custom drawers for each member of the family. Everybody needs more space. Stack’em up and see that precious floor space you’ve been missing!


Make Stencils

I use this a lot in my board game design when I need to draw a particular shape or symbol over and over again. Take a sturdy piece of corrugated cardboard and cut out a cool shape. Now you have a template for drawing shapes again and again, and the best part is they’ll be personalized to what you like drawing! Maybe you’re a 5-leaf clover fan, or partial to crescent moons! The options are endless!


Make a Robot

box bot, eco friendly idea for post-consumer corrugated cardboard



I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t suggest making a robot to someone. But a custom box made of corrugated cardboard makes the perfect robot parts. 5 or 6 of them stacked together make for all the components of a robot. With very sizes and shapes of boxes, you can make a pretty unique bot. Make it a mini, or life-sized. Just try not to give it artificial intelligence–I’ve heard that ends poorly.





Whew! That should hold you for awhile, right? Two rainy saturdays, at the very least. These ideas are all fine and well, but it’s important to remember what it means for the environment. Every time you get a little more use out that custom packaging or corrugated box before the recycling bin, you’re contributing to the fight against post-consumer waste. Granted the eco friendly nature of corrugated cardboard plays its part in that battle, but why not get something creative out of the deal while you’re at it? After all, it’s a lot easier to utilize something than figure out how to properly dispose of it.



Luxury Packaging Afterlife: The Post-Consumer Purpose

Post-Consumer Waste. What does it mean?


Simplified, it means what you do with the box after you’ve opened your purchase. Do you toss it in the trash? Or do you find a way to utilize it, repurpose it.


At Sunrise Packaging, we try to use recyclable materials whenever possible. Eco-binders made from recyclable material and utilizing eco friendly, vegetable-based ink. Aqueous print coatings preserve paper from yellowing, making products more reusable, and they’re water-based. Using grades of plastic for thermoforming that can be recycled. In fact, RPET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate) is a polymer made using reclaimed post-consumer material.

recyclable corrugated cardboard cuts back on post-consumer waste

When you think about it, our packaging lends itself quite well to the fight against post-consumer waste. Even though they are on opposite ends of the spectrum, luxury packaging and corrugated cardboard boxes can both cut back on post-consumer waste. How? Well, with a little imagination for starters.


Let’s start with luxury packaging. The brilliance of luxury packaging is that it’s not only eye-catching, it adds value to the product itself. The same upscale element that makes it attractive in stores, makes it somewhat of a keepsake in the post-consumer market. Fine packaging can be used and reused as gift boxes and storage long after they’ve served their purpose. I use a magnetic cigar-style box to hold the components of a board game I’m designing. It feels like an heirloom. That magnetic strip, the soft–touch lamination–that’s something I can proudly display on my bookshelf. Not meant for refuse.

repurposed magnetic cigar style box for board game design, turned edges, upscale, post-consumer

On the other side of the coin, rugged, durable corrugated cardboard–still a staple of modern packaging–is designed to be used again and again, and yet is recycled and recyclable. Now that’s eco friendly! Think of the last time you reused a corrugated cardboard box. I bet it wasn’t that long ago. Something always needs moving, lifting, or transporting. And cardboard, with its varying flutes, was there for you. While custom cardboard boxes don’t always have the flash of, let’s say, a rigid two-piece setup box, or the stiffness of a chipboard, but they are lightweight, disposable, and endlessly reusable.



Corrugated Cardboard and Rigid Chipboard: The Eco Friendly Odd Couple


Two different materials, used in different ways, both contributing to the fight against post-consumer waste. One with staying power, and one that bows out gracefully when the time comes. It might take a little imagination–heck, it might take a lot of imagination–but there’s always an eco friendly (re)purpose for packaging, luxury or rugged. All things to consider for your next custom box or packaging project. Do you want to be the heirloom? Or the bottom of the bin?



Custom Corrugated Box for Branding


What’s your favorite logo? Think of your t-shirt collection. Or your favorite hat. What’s on it? Is it the Fox Racing fox? The Budweiser crown? Maybe the slashed M of the Monster logo?



fox racing logo, branding for custom corrugated box21689-monster-energy-logo

Company logos are big. Not size-wise necessarily, but there’s a reason businesses drop major dollars on logo design. If you land on the right one, it transcends the brand and becomes a piece of pop culture. Those companies listed above—consumers actually purchase clothing with their brands blazing on them. They are paying to advertise for that company. Now how’s that for a turnaround on investment?


Granted some folks might have seen them sported by a celebrity, or on the door of a race car. But most people just like to show their support for a company they like. I bet nobody at Apple foresaw how fashionable that little piece of fruit would become today.


Or maybe they did?


A Custom Corrugated Box is Your Canvas


Now your average John Q. Startup doesn’t have the funds to furnish a Nascar driver with their logo, but you can start with personalized packaging. A custom corrugated box offers durability, but also a proper canvas for your company’s brand. The fluted walls of a custom corrugated box allow for full color digital printing, so your exact logo can come through in high definition. It might not be in the hands of a pro athlete yet, but imagine how many E-Flute press kits go out a trade show. Your company logo is bound to get into the right hands eventually.


Which leads back to having a proper canvas. The nice thing about a custom corrugated box is that it’s affordable enough to give away, but can be made luxurious enough that it will be kept by its recipient. That’s the real goal, isn’t it? That’s how your logo sticks. Your name sticks. By providing your potential client with high-end custom packaging, you are giving them a reason to remember you. And if history has taught us anything, there’s nothing more useful than a custom corrugated box.