The Origin of Cardboard Shipping Boxes

It seemed right to begin a discussion about cardboard shipping boxes by talking about the history of cardboard a little bit. Namely: where does cardboard come from? First of all, cardboard is more or less a general term for some heavy-duty paper. After all, paper towel rolls are still cardboard but they are much thinner and not as strong as something like cardboard shipping boxes.

Wouldn’t you know it, but cardboard first starts out as wood! Unless, of course, we are talking about cardboard made from other recycled cardboard, but when the first cardboard was made it was made of wood. That’s right, trees chipped and then broken down with chemicals into fibers. These fibers then get washed to get rid of the chemicals, and it goes through a series of machines that bleaches it, mixes it, and cuts it up to make a pulp. From there is goes into a machine that converts into a mat of paper.

Cardboard Shipping Boxes

This mat goes through steam rollers that squeeze out any excess water and dry it at the same time, also making sure that it is smooth and even. The drying process is finished, and there is now paper! This paper is then used to make different kinds of cardboard. Cardstock is made by gluing several layers together. If cardboard shipping boxes are being made, then these sheets of cardstock run through a machine that gives it a rippled texture. This is called ‘corrugated’. This is what you see in between the flat cardboard, which is exactly what happens. The newly corrugated sheet is glued in between cardstock and then cut to size. Then people get to have their logo printed it, and all that good stuff.

Wherever you are sitting, take a quick look around and try to see how much cardboard is near you. Okay, for me, I’m seeing a paper towel roll (which is still inside the paper towel but probably not for long, once my kids get up). I see some hardcover textbooks on the desk next to me, which might have some glossy printed pictures on them but underneath that shiny paper is surely cardboard.

Can’t forget the box in the corner, that my brother and sister-in-law shipped massive quantities of Halloween candy in. It’s the first thing my kids ask for every single morning (thanks, guys). Cardboard is everywhere, and even places that aren’t obvious.

Bin Liners and Dimensions

When going to buy bin liners it is crucial to know the size of the box. Perhaps that just seems obvious, but there is a reason to this ridiculous suggestion. Bin liners consist of a width and a depth and a length. When calculating what size liner you will need you need to know the width and depth of the box, and then add one inch to each for the liner.

Also, the length of the bag must consist of the height of the box, plus the depth of the box, plus six more inches to make sure that everything in the box will be covered effectively. As you can see, simply guessing at what size might work isn’t really a great way to go. I am not a math person, otherwise I might attempt to walk you through the process, but in the end I fear you would up with something grossly off the mark.

white-bin-liners_PDT05737I have talked before about gussets and about how the bin liners from are gusseted (well, I’m sure all of them are, but I’m focused on one resource). I explained how gussets are extra pieces of material sewn in to expand the item, and this is why we now have pants and bin liners and stuff like that. Well, I didn’t get a chance to mention where gussets come from. It’s really quite fascinating, you see. It comes from an Old French word for “armpit” (did you have any doubt that it would be an old word?).

More specifically it describes a piece of armor used for the armpit. So it was originally a term used when referring to armor, and then apparently the idea caught on and they began using gussets in clothing around the mid fifteen-hundreds. I don’t know why they waited so long, but I’m glad they finally decided to incorporate them in the everyday person’s wardrobe. We can’t all wear armor just for the sake of the gussets.

I thought all of that was very interesting. It’s fascinating that what was once used to describe armor amongst French people, hundreds of years ago at that, is now a term that I am explaining to you in regards to bin liners. The even crazier thing: it’s still doing the same job!

Once again, just as a friendly reminder, when trying to figure out what size liner to purchase, make sure you know how big the box is. You don’t want everything to fit nicely and then you discover that when you try to tie the bag there is a huge ginormous gap which essentially defeats the purpose of protecting the product.


Clear Packaging Tape

What good is clear packaging tape? Well, I’ll tell you. When you get it at you are getting quality carton sealing tape at discounted prices, just like the website says! Currently, it’s even on sale. This is a good product to have when you want your packaging jobs to look clean and professional. Of course other kinds of tape would do the job as well, but sometimes we just need to make a better impression.


It’s one thing to throw some duct tape on an old diaper box and send it off to your mother-in-law, but when you are trying to mail a company product you wouldn’t want to take the same approach. This is where clear packaging tape comes into play. At there are four different strengths to buy, from light duty to heavy duty. You can get the rolls in two inch widths, or three inch.

So there’s clear packaging tape, and then there’s ultra clear packaging tape. Perhaps this just seems a little obnoxious, and maybe even like a marketing ploy. But the ultra clear stuff really is ultra clear: you can see right down to the cardboard core. Now that’s something you can’t do with plain old clear. The ultra clear is perfect for covering mailing labels, or labels of any kind.

I’m going to tell you a little secret. I’ve used the ultra clear packaging tape to laminate. When my son was a toddler I printed out the letters of the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors, sight words, and animals. I laid out super long strips of the tape, cut out the pictures and placed them on the tape, and then laid another strip of tape over them. I simply cut in between the pictures, did a little bit of trimming, and voila, I had some laminated, pictures!

Then I did one better by hot-gluing a little magnet to the back of each one and suddenly my son would be busy for the entire time I was cooking dinner. You can’t pay enough to get that kind of peace, let me tell you. I’ve even considered making up little baggies of these laminated, magnet pictures and selling them at craft fairs. People overcharge homemade stuff so much that I’m sure I could wind up walking away with some decent compensation. The best part is that no one would even know I had used clear packaging tape!

Why Cheap Moving Boxes are the Best

Nobody says that they want to spend a lot of money on cardboard boxes. Or if they do they are probably lying. We generally use cardboard boxes one time and then we are done with them. Sometimes, if they hold up well, we can save some of them and use them for a side project in the future, or to send your cousin her old jean jacket that you borrowed at your other cousin’s rehearsal dinner.

Cardboard boxes are ideal for short term, and this is why we choose them for moving. On top of that, this is why we choose cheap moving boxes (keyword being cheap). Have you ever heard of anyone packing all of their house up in plastic bins? I didn’t think so. You would wind up with about a hundred totes after everything was moved in and then what would you do with them?

Cheap Moving Boxes Maybe build a house out of plastic totes or something. Have you ever heard of anyone packing all of their house up into garbage bags? Absolutely not! That’s even more ludicrous than the opposite extreme. Nobody with any type of life experience would put their dishes and appliances in plastic bags and heft them around. You might as well just move all those bags right into the trash, because that is about what the stuff will be worth after the entire process.

No. The answer to all of this is cheap moving boxes. And the answer to cheap moving boxes is Remember what I said about packing dishes in plastic bags? I’ve got one better. Dish packs. These are cardboard partitions that go inside boxes to keep the glassware from killing each other on the journey. I’ve used these before, and they are amazing.

As much as I loved the dish packs I loved the lamp boxes even more. Somehow moving lamps is an enormous pain. They aren’t very sturdy, they are awkward, and of course they are fragile. My ultimate favorite, though, in the family of cheap moving boxes, is the picture frame box. I have had way too much stress occur over whether or not my paintings were sleeping peacefully enough between the guest bedroom pillows, or wrapped up in a sleeping bag. I always imagine a sore spot being rubbed right through. Thanks to the the picture frame boxes, all of that anxiety goes away. There’s enough from the rest of the process, am I right?

Plastic Packaging Bags: A Win/Win

When it comes to packaging and shipping, it would behoove us not to forget about plastic packaging bags. These might seem like an inconsequential byproduct, but without them there wouldn’t be so much a point of packaging or shipping what we are trying to work with. For instance, those coffee beans you’ve invested your life savings into growing, you wouldn’t just throw a handful of beans in a box and send them on their way.

Can you imagine buying some supposed home-grown, one-of-a-kind, best-coffee-beans-in-the-world but they are just floating around in a box? No way! You would absolutely want to put them in a coffee bag. I suppose you’ve never thought of coffee bags as plastic packaging bags before, but they really are. At you can buy them in half-pound or one pound sizes, and in brown or white.

Packaging Bags

If you don’t think you need them because you aren’t mailing anything, think again. If you have a local coffee shop, you are still going to be selling those beans. I highly doubt you would want to be putting them in little sandwich baggies. I don’t think anyone would buy a specialized product like coffee beans if the proprietor didn’t take their product seriously enough to even package them appropriately. Or at least I wouldn’t. I’d buy a home-made rice krispies treat in a plastic baggie. Not so much some coffee beans.

How about the very opposite end of the spectrum: electronics. That is about as opposite as you can get from coffee beans, right? You need very specific plastic packaging bags for electronics. Once again, the throwing-in-a-box analogy: you don’t just throw circuit boards in a box and send them on their way. There would be no point in spending the money on shipping. You might as well just throw your money right into the trash can. You will absolutely want static shielding bags. sells them open-ended, or ziploc style. These are a very cool addition to the family plastic packaging bags. Somehow, these bags are designed to not produce static electricity. Static electricity can easily damage sensitive material. At you can get the static shielding plastic packaging bags in really little (3 X 5) or in pretty big (14 X 18). That’s small enough for a watch, and big enough for a lap top.

I encourage you to invest in those seemingly inconsequential byproducts, so that your product can be treated the way it is meant to be treated, and can be sold the way it is meant to be sold. It’s a win/win.