Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Shoe Box Graveyard

So, about two months ago I spent probably a grand total of 16 hours cleaning/de-cluttering/organizing my bedroom. How and why is a whole other post (which I may do at some point), but at the end of this whole process I found myself with an amazingly clean and well-organized bedroom, about eight bags of stuff to take to Goodwill, and a giant stack of shoe boxes I didn't need. (This was after re-purposing maybe half a dozen for storing tools, spare kitchen utensils, stacks of non-digital pictures, closet shelving, etc.)

I had hoped I could foist at least some of them off on my friends. No such luck. It would appear my friends all have plenty of shoe boxes of their own for storing tools and pictures and such, thank you very much. I can't bring myself to toss them all into the recycling, so I decided to ask the Internet. The Internet knows everything, after all.

Of course, I should have anticipated that the first 57 suggestions would all involve making dioramas. I had a bad experience with a diorama in the third grade, so I revised my strategy:

The results were shall we say interesting at the very least. Without further ado, I give you some suggestions for what to do with old shoe boxes.

Suggestion 1. Make a duct tape suitcase.

Please don't ask me to explain what you're supposed to do with a duct tape suitcase once you've got it. I would not know as I have real suitcases that I purchased in a store.

Suggestion 2. Make a ribbon storage box / dispenser. I do not have a lot of ribbon that needs storing, but I have to say this is one of the more useful / non-crazy sounding ideas.

Suggestion 3. Make a scanner to digitize your old negatives. This seems legit, but hard and complicated. Also I am probably not hip enough to do this.

Suggestion 4. Keeping with the multimedia theme, make a DIY "film projector" using old comic books.

Points for creativity, but I am maybe less excited about this project because we already have a "film projector" of sorts, which we call a blue ray player. Only instead of old cut-up comic books, it plays actual movies, purchased from a store / reputable internet purveyor.

Suggestion 5. Make a shoe box & rubber band guitar. I suppose if you have small children maybe this is a reasonable idea but as I barely touch the actual non-shoe box guitar I have, I can't imagine creating one with rubber bands is really going to solve my problem. Instead of a stack of old shoe boxes, I would probably just have a stack of shoe box guitars.

"The shoe box guitar belongs to the string family." True fact; I have a music degree so I would know.

Suggestion 6. Build a whirligig. (Bonus points if you knew what a whirligig was without looking up. I didn't.)

Alas I do not possess the patience to build a whirligig. Also I am not sure what one does with a whirligig.

And finally, the coup de grace of shoe box crafts...

Suggestion 7. Make a whelping box.

That's right. If all else fails, try to find some small animals about to give birth, and let them give birth your shoe boxes.

If you are unable to find an animal small enough to fit in your shoe box, try to find one whose babies will fit. You can then put the new ones in the shoe box as they come out.

(I am not making this up. This was an actual suggestion from a real person about what to do with old shoe boxes.)

* * *

I hope you've learned an important lesson today, and that is that there is nothing funny about having a bunch of leftover shoe boxes that no one wants. In my desperate internet searches for uses for the damned things, I ran across a suggestion from one woman, which was to kindly ask your shoe retailer to keep the box themselves and only take your shoes home, thereby making it their problem and not yours. This is a great idea for shoes purchased in person which I will probably attempt at some point, but I still buy shoes online often enough that this still won't solve all my shoe box-related troubles.

Now, I will ask you some questions in bold Italics, designed to draw your attention to them. Sorry for the cliché, but I really want you to give me your answers. (Like really.)

  • Do you often find yourself with an abundance of unwanted shoe boxes? What do you do with them?
  • Have you ever made a whelping box or a whirligig, either with a shoe box or some other type of found materials? Do you often find yourself in need of whelping boxes & whirligigs?
  • Do you make your shoe retailers keep their own damned boxes?
  • What am I missing here about the duct tape suitcase?


  1. The whole reason why I had four kids was to give purpose to my old shoe boxes :)

    Legos, playmobil, bug habitats, zhuzhu pet whelping boxes and mansions (when taped together)...and so much more...especially DIORAMAS! Did you see my daughter's diorama of Jackson Pollack's Long Island studio? Pretty awesome ;-) Maybe you could do a therapeutic diorama to rid yourself of that bad memory?

    That is the solution to your shoebox dilemma .... time to have a bunch of kids ;-)

  2. You could whelp them in a shoebox, which would get rid of a few more!!

  3. This whole post cracked me up -- in part because I just got rid of seven shoe boxes last month (though several more should go, too). However, I didn't think of getting google entertainment out of them; mine went to the recycling bin. So I'll just live vicariously through you, and eagerly wait for your duct taped whelping guitar to appear in a future blog post.

  4. You could have used them to box christmas or birthday presents although you would still have to store them until then. Moms and aunts usually reuse boxes for gifts so you could pawn them off on family.

    A duct tape suit case sounds like a sure fire way to get strip searched at your local airport if you're into that kind of thing.