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Should you use plastic bins or cardboard boxes?

Ah, the age-old question, should you use plastic bins or cardboard boxes? And for those people who are serious about research and planning ahead, this is a very important question. Let’s say you decided to relocate for whatever reason. Should you use cardboard or plastic for your long distance moving? Or you decided to downsize before retirement and go from a four bedroom to a small apartment. Should you use boxes or plastic totes for your storage unit? There are so many pros and cons to each option and therefore it is hard to decide. If you are like me, you would get goosebumps just by thinking about a clean, sturdy, hermetically sealed and neatly organized plastic container. But just maybe crummy old boxes are the better option? Let us help you make an educated decision while choosing between plastic bins or cardboard boxes.

Comparing the two-plastic bins or cardboard boxes?

We saw a lot of storage units in Minneapolis and organized plenty of relocation to know what is our favorite. Now is the time to share some of that experience and help you make an educated decision. Both cardboard box and plastic tote will do the job of containing your items during a move, but there are so many other aspects to this. There is a reason we see truckload after a truckload of cardboard boxes during a relocation and not piles of plastic containers.

Don’t get us wrong, plastic bins are great for storing pretty much anything, but they are actually not as reliable during a move. The good old cardboard box is made out of durable and flexible corrugated fiberboard, which makes it the most reliable option in transit. It is also the most durable way to protect your items on the road. The main goal here is to protect your items during a move and also, save money as much as possible. So let’s look at different attributes both have.

Plastic bin or cardboard box
The cardboard box is built out of corrugated fiberboard, making it flexible and durable.

Which one is more available?

A big part of our moving services here at City Moving & Storage MN is the “full-service packing”. Therefore, we know a thing or two about it. Boxes are more available by every mean. They are sold by most moving companies and storage facilities. Heck, you can even get free cardboard boxes on Craigslist if you are determent enough! Nevertheless, some moving companies rent plastic bins as well. Usually, they deliver them to you in your old home and retrieve them from your new one, once you are done unpacking. A good thing about plastic containers here is that you don’t need to put them together and tape them, which saves a lot of time.

Which one is better for packing?

This one is going to be a close tie! Each posses so many good qualities for packing. Most importantly, plastic bins can be nested, making less of a mess during packing/unpacking process. The thing about boxes is that they come in all the different shapes and sizes. From small boxes for your appliances to wardrobe boxes with hangers, there is a box for any imaginable item you are willing to move. But let’s be fair, there are plastic wardrobe containers as well. They are also great for items that will conform to their shapes, such as bedding, stuffed toys, winter jackets, and pillows. Some people would say boxes are easier to label, not true. You can label containers with masking tape and a permanent marker. Another useful plastic bin’s attribute is the fact you don’t need duck-tape or box cutters. Plastic containers are secured with zip-lock ties.

Plastic doesn’t attract insects and is water resistant.

What about stacking?

When choosing between plastic bins or cardboard boxes comes down to stacking, boxes win! Their structural design and material make them sturdy enough for cross-country moves. On top of this, cardboard boxes are perfect for stacking. Their shape allows them to be stacked vertically without collapsing in. The box is also stable during transit due to its ability to stack edge-to-edge, which is not so much the case with plastic bins. They don’t fit snug against each other, making them sustainable to sliding during transit. Another con is that the plastic can break when bins are stacked on each other due to their weight. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you are looking to pack your kitchen with ease or just your excess stuff for storage, cardboard boxes are best for safe stacking!

Plastic bins or cardboard boxes
Boxes stack edge-to-edge which makes them very stable during transit.

Durability and environment

The problem with cardboard boxes is that doesn’t last very long and are sustainable to water damage. While plastic bins can last an eternity, which on the other hand makes them not so environmentally friendly. Cardboard boxes can also be breached by insects and other critters. This doesn’t happen to plastic. And most importantly, if you over pack a cardboard box, its bottom will break. This is unlikely to happen to plastic totes. Many cardboard boxes are already made from reused materials and can be easily recycled. Another quality of plastic bins is their ability to be reused many times.

Cardboard box
Cardboard is more environmentally friendly.

In the end it is your decision which to use, plastic bins or cardboard boxes. It comes down to your individual case. For example, because you own your boxes, you can unpack in your own time. Plastic bins are usually rented and you have to return them by a certain date. On the other hand, if you own your plastic bins they can be purposed as storage in your new home. Plastic doesn’t attract insects like cardboard. But, again on the other hand boxes are great for storage units with controlled climate conditions. We can keep going like this in hopes you got a better understanding of the topic. The decision is yours.