The price of eggs is finally falling but it was at an all-time high just a few months ago. So if you can get some additional value on your eggs by reusing the egg carton, why not? Plus, it’s always good for planet Earth to be more sustainability-minded. Although some brands have switched to biodegradable and thus eco-friendly cardboard versions, many eggs are still packaged in Styrofoam or plastic cartons. Styrofoam takes around 500 years to break down in landfills! Even then, it’ll still be present as tiny foam pieces.
No matter which type of packaging your eggs come in, there are plenty of easy and creative ways to upcycle those empty cartons. Here are 10 of our favorites. Unless specified, you can use any kind of egg carton for these projects.
1. Start Some Seedlings
Gardening can turn into an expensive hobby in a hurry, so it’s helpful to cut financial corners wherever you can. Instead of buying plastic seed trays, use those empty egg cartons to get the job done.
First, add some drainage for water by poking a few holes in the bottom of the carton. Barton Hill Farms suggests separating the lid from the bottom, then putting it underneath the egg tray to catch any wayward water.
Next, fill each cup up halfway with seed-starting mix. Put a few seeds in each cup, then make sure they’re covered with the mix. Water the trays enough to keep the soil moist, but not totally soaked through.
Once the seedlings’ roots reach the bottom of the tray, move them to the garden (assuming the freeze risk has passed. If not, leave them in a pot indoors until the weather warms up). Pro tip: Try putting an empty half eggshell in each carton cup, then fill it up with soil and seeds. The eggshell nutrients are beneficial to budding plants.
2. Make a Worm Farm
Worms are vital to any garden, so avid gardeners will often cultivate worm farms to increase their supply. Cardboard egg cartons are ideal for this purpose, as they contain microbes since they once carried a food product. Worms love to feed on microbes!
To make your own worm farm, grab two dark, plastic bins that are at least 14 inches (36 centimeters) deep. Follow these directions to drill the correct number of holes so that the worms get lots of air. Line the bottom bin with a cut-up T-shirt or some burlap, then nest the two bins together.
Cut up some newspapers and spray them with water in the bin. Then tear up cardboard egg cartons, wet them and place them in the middle layer of the shredded newspaper. Add worms with the soil that they typically are sold with, include some worm food and enjoy a thriving worm habitat! (Note, worms and worm food are available online or at garden supply and home improvement stores).
3. Make Fire-starters
Cardboard egg cartons can quickly be made into fire starters, perfect for use when camping, grilling, sitting around the fire pit or anywhere else that requires them. Simply sprinkle dryer lint, sawdust or cotton balls in the bottom of the carton. Make sure to fill up the cups about 3/4 of the way.
Next, melt an old candle or some other type of wax in a saucepan. Once melted, carefully pour the wax on top of the lint/sawdust. Allow it to cool, then when you’re ready to use them rip the cardboard sections apart and light the outside of the cup.
4. Use as Organizers
Thanks to their neat little sections, old egg cartons are perfect for organizing small things, like nuts, bolts, screws, nails and so on. This is also a great hack for jewelry, nail polishes, office supplies, tiny light bulbs and batteries!
5. Store Small Christmas Ornaments
Christmas is pricy enough. Forego extra expense by using empty egg cartons to store small ornaments instead of fancy sectioned boxes.
6. Create a Bird Feeder
This is an easy and cheap way to nourish the avian friends in your area, by using the whole egg carton or just a cup or two. Simply cut the top off the carton. Then poke a hole in the bottom of the individual cup, or at all corners of the rectangular carton. Thread twine through the holes and tie a knot in the bottom of each. Fill it up with birdseed and hang the makeshift feeder in a tree.
7. Replace Packing Peanuts
Here’s one that’s ideal for Styrofoam containers. Rather than purchase earth-unfriendly packing peanuts, tear up old Styrofoam egg cartons to add padding to packages.
8. Entertain Your Dog
Sometimes dogs need a little bit of extra brain stimulation. Here are a few ideas, using egg cartons:
Hide treats inside an empty cardboard egg carton to challenge them to learn how to open the box. Close the lid over the box but don’t lock it.
For dogs who’ve mastered the first trick, increase the difficulty by hiding treats in the egg compartments, each covered with a scrunched-up ball of paper or a small ball.
Put an exceptionally tasty (and smelly) treat, like a hot dog chunk inside the carton. Let the dog sniff it, then tell the pup to stay while you hide it. Tell the dog to “find it,” then watch in amazement as the pooch tracks it down.
9. Perfect Your Paint Palette
The next time you or your kid wants to paint, section off the various colors using an empty egg carton. This will reduce mess and contamination but will also allow for a handy mixing spot when combining colors.
10. Make Ice Cubes
First, make sure the carton is nice and clean. A Styrofoam carton is best, as water will freeze without binding to the box. Then, fill it up with water and pop it into the freezer. This should generate ice cubes in a pinch that are easy to remove!
Adventurous chefs like Alton Brown swear by meatballs oven-baked inside cardboard egg cartons. Be sure to spray the carton with cooking spray first so the meatballs don’t stick.