7 Simple Ways to Reuse Egg Cartons

empty cardboard egg carton

Capelle.r / Getty Images

There are many ways to reuse your old egg cartons, but I wanted to focus on the projects that were simple and gave the cartons a chance at a second life before being recycled. Many of these ideas let you use egg cartons instead of buying something for the same purpose.

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Starting Seeds


Julija Kumpinovica / Getty Images

If you've ever saved an egg carton to reuse, it's probably been as a seed starter. No need to buy plastic seed starters or even the compostable ones, egg cartons are the perfect tool for the job. The cardboard cartons have perfectly sized compartments for growing seedlings. Once the plants are big enough to be transferred to your garden, no need to scoop them out. Just cut out the individual cups of the carton and place them directly into the soil. The paper will eventually break down as the plants grow.

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Bird Feeders

Egg carton bird feeder

The Creative Cubby

If you love to watch birds from your window, it's easy and fast to set up an egg carton bird feeder. All you need is the carton, some seed and some string. You can follow the tutorial at The Creative Cubby to make a feeder like the one pictured above. Cut the carton, fill it with seed and then hang it from your favorite tree.

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Packing Material

packing material

Jodimichelle / Flickr / CC BY SA-2.0

One of the most useful things you can do with old egg cartons is to repurpose them into packing material. If you've got a package to ship or you're moving, those pesky packing peanuts, expensive bubble wrap and paper wrapping supplies don't have to be a part of it. Cut the lid off the cartons and use the egg-cradling bottoms to line a box of fragile items. You can also cut up the cartons to use in place of packing peanuts. You'll save money and avoid the spread of those awful styrofoam packing peanuts.

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Fire Starters

fire starter material

Baha'i Views / Flitzy Phoebie / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you have a fireplace, like to build fires in an outside fire pit or go camping, you've probably used fire starters to get your fire going quickly. Save your egg cartons and you won't ever have to buy fire starter sticks again. Stuff the egg cups with organic flammable materials like dryer lint, dry grass, sawdust, pencil shavings and more. Pour paraffin wax or melted candle scraps into the cups and mix it together. Let the mixtures set and then cut each cup out and store them in a place that's not exposed to heat. Now, your fire starters are ready when you need them.

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Feed Your Compost


kisforkate / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

If you have a compost bin, you may already be throwing in your egg shells, but don't leave out the cardboard carton! Compost bins need close to a 50/50 combination of green (fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, fresh lawn clippings, etc.) and brown (dry leaves and grass, shredded cardboard and paper, nut shells, etc.) ingredients to feed the micro-organisms that are breaking down all of that organic matter and turning it into nutrient rich soil. Tear the carton into small pieces and add it to your pile or bin, along with any other cardboard or paper waste you have. Just make sure you're adding it with an equal amount of food scraps.

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Get Crafty

Egg carton caterpillar

Lynda Giddens / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

If you have kids in your house, egg cartons are your best friend. The boxes make great art supplies and your imagination is the limit. Just search Pinterest for egg carton crafts and you'll find more than you thought possible. Egg cartons make ideal paint palettes. The cups are perfectly sized for a good squirt of each color and you can use them over and over. Just let the paint dry in the cups and refill them with the same color next time. If you don't have kids, you can donate them to a local preschool, children's museum or art center. Those places are always looking for extra art supplies.

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Give Them Away

carton with assortment of eggs

Chris and Jenni / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Do you know someone who keeps chickens? Do you have a favorite local farm that you buy from at the green market or are you a member of a CSA? It's likely that they are in need of extra cartons for packing fresh eggs. Give them out and, if you're lucky, you just might get one back full of more eggs.