Reuse, But Label Only Once

When we sold our house in the suburbs, we knew we wouldn’t be able to find another suitable place at a good price right away, so we rented an apartment and waited to line up the perfect deal. We retained our moving boxes so that we could use them a second time. Was it a good idea to do that? I’m not sure.

Good boxes are hard to find.

My wife, daughters, and I accumulated plenty of kitchen items, toys, and books in the ten years we lived in our old house; we gave away or sold much of it, but we

nevertheless retained many items that would be difficult or expensive to replace. Once you could go to the grocery or liquor store to pick up boxes for moving, but merchants now break down their boxes immediately for recycling. We had to buy dozens of 65-lb test corrugated fiberboard boxes for our first move. They were surprisingly expensive, so I carefully flattened them and stored them for the time when we bought another house and moved from the apartment.

Confusion reigned before the move to the condo.

When we bought our new house, we found that that the lending industry had built in new delays in the closing process. Our the team at our lender dragged their feet especially hard because we were buying a condo. We had to ask the seller for three extensions because our lender kept inventing new “conditions” for loan approval, conditions like proving the water was turned on in the condo when the home was inspected. (Of course it was on. That’s how the home inspector knew the shower door leaked.) When my wife called the lender to ask them if they knew their delays might make us homeless, they tried to calm her by saying that she shouldn’t worry because we could stay in the apartment until the landlord evicted us.

Packing and packing again

We moved more than two weeks later than we’d planned. We found out one Friday afternoon that we were clear to close on the following Monday. The landlord expected us to be out by Wednesday. We’d already relabeled our old boxes once when we organized our move. Because of the delay in closing, we had to unpack boxes to find clothes to wear and pots to cook in while we waited for the deal to close. In the days before we moved, we hastily

re-packed up and re-labeled the boxes.

Which label is the right label?

When the movers unloaded our furniture and boxers from their truck and put them in our new home, we had labeled the boxes once for the move to the the apartment, once after we’d packed the boxes to go the condo, and once more when we re-packed the boxes for the long-delayed move. In the our final haste to pack, we made many organizational and labeling mistakes. Two of three labels on a box were often incorrect.

That first evening in our new place we ate take-out pizza because we couldn’t find anything to cook in, bought toilet paper, and tore through boxes looking for towels for the bathroom and sheets for the beds. Hardly any boxes had correct labels, or else the correct label had been taped over when the boxes were re-packed. We found our small daughter had helped us by packing toys in almost all the boxes.

How could we have done better? We couldn’t pack the boxes with same items as in the first move, because we got rid of much of our stuff in the three years we lived in the apartment. We could have used different color markers to relabel the boxes for the second move--if we hadn’t already used so many colors when we marked them the first time. I hate to say it, but the amount time we spent sorting through our belongings may outweigh our savings from reusing the boxes.

It’s Spring and yesterday my wife asked me to find one of her gardening books. There’s a box downstairs with "clothes" written on one side and "toys" on the other. I hope to find some books inside.


We can’t locate the pots or the dice
Or the shirts or the sugar and spice.
O ammonia and poxes!
We reused the boxes
And mistakenly labeled each twice.

Article Written By marqjonz

marqjonz is a blogger at

Last updated on 05-06-2016 48 0

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