4 easy steps to resize a cardboard box and save big

Are you using a brand new box every time you ship? Did you know, as long as they’re in good condition, your boxes can be reused over and over! We’ll show you how to cut them down, resize, and reshape them so you never pay more to ship than you have to.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle is a common phrase and a great idea, but we seem to miss the middle part all too often. Deliveries come in, we race to break the boxes down so they don’t pile up and overwhelm us before recycling day. Small business shippers should take a second look at the boxes coming in because a lot of them can be reused.

And it’s way easier than it sounds.


Resizing a box in 4 easy steps

1. Find a box

sendle resize a cardboard box step 1 find a box

This is the easiest step. Cardboard boxes are everywhere! Recycling bins are absolutely stuffed with them, which is great, but it’d be even better if each box saw a little more of the world before retirement. Resist the urge to immediately break it down, assuming you have the space for it. Keep one side taped closed and you’ll be reusing tape, too!


2. Size it up

sendle resize a cardboard box step 2 size it up

Should we say “size it down” instead? Really, what we’re looking to do is make sure the box doesn't end up smaller than you need. An easy way to do this is start packing the box, then mark the inside where you’d like the new top to be.


3. Perforation perfection

sendle resize a cardboard box step 3 perfect perforation

This step is optional. In order to get the perfect fold, use a tool to create a perforation along where you want to fold the box down. You can make the folds without doing this, but they’ll look way better if you use a purpose-made tool so the folds don’t buckle. Curious if it’s worth buying one? Check out how many product reviews mention all the money they saved.


4. Cut, tape, and ship!

sendle resize a cardboard box step 4 cut tape and ship

Using scissors or a box cutter (so that’s what those are for!), cut the corners down to the perforation mark. All that’s left is to fold them down and pack up your used box the same way you always do with the new ones. Your new box flaps might be a little long, and if that’s the case, they can be cut to fit. You’ll save money by buying one less box, and might save a lot more on shipping thanks to the lack of empty space inside.

How to change the shape of a box

Now that you know how to change the size of a box, it’s pretty easy to change the shape, too. You’ll definitely want to do this if you’re shipping something flatter but only have boxes that are more cube-shaped. Why pay for all that empty space?

Picture your fully-collapsed box as a tube, then choose two sides to make half as big. Cut the flaps all the way to the fold, then use your box perforation tool to create a score between the cuts. Now you can twist the whole thing a little bit and ta-da! Your square’s a rectangle. Clear as mud? Let us show you how it’s done with our awesome demo video.

A video guide on how to reuse and cut down a cardboard box.


Think a bit about your brand

Depending on how much of an image you’re trying to cultivate, you may be hesitant to reuse boxes because they show minor wear or even have another company’s logo. Sustainable tape and stickers from No Issue can help jazz up a used box a bit, or you can go a completely different route.

One quick note while we’re on the topic of logos! Don’t reuse a box from another carrier. That can lead to confusion and rejected shipments, and in some cases, it’s illegal to use one carrier’s box and another’s service.

Our friends at Pali Baskets established great working relationships with their local pet shop and other businesses, ensuring they get a constant supply of used boxes. Because their baskets are made from pallet strapping and other recycled materials – and are fully recyclable – shipping in used boxes is very on brand. “We actually hear from customers quite often that they love to see us reusing boxes," owner Cassandra Leever told us. "It certainly doesn’t hurt that they’re occasionally covered in adorable dogs!”

Now that you know how to change the size and shape of boxes, you’ll never look at the boxes you get the same way again. Giving a box another trip across the country or around the world is a great way to save energy and resources, all while letting you keep more of the money your small business makes.


Start shipping sustainably with Sendle 


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