Building a Box from Garbage

While there are plenty of things we can find at IKEA that are good quality, they do tend to use a lot of particle board. I like IKEA, but their furniture is great until, well, until it’s not. Something starts to crumble and then something else starts to warp and the whole thing goes kind of wibbly wobbly.

This means we throw a lot of stuff away, even when there’s still good bits in the old shelves. If we follow the Three “R’s” — (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) we know that we probably shouldn’t have bought so much stuff at IKEA in the first place but before it goes to the landfill maybe we should figure out something to do with it.

While the sides of the cabinet were shot, I had eight old particle board shelves that I was able to salvage out. I didn’t plan to make anything pretty from them, just something useful, and as I’m building out a workspace in the garage, I needed some low cabinets that I could throw stuff in an on. Easy peasy.

The cool part about using leftover shelves, even laminated particle board, is that they are all the same size. This means they pretty much fit together as a single box with no real fuss or muss. I did have to create rails to act as brackets; using some scrap I was able to cut four pieces that were big enough to hold tight, but small enough to not really be in the way once I start using the boxes as storage.

No one is scoring this project on looks, but this isn’t about design, it’s a sense of stewardship. Old planks and boards can often be reused and there are whole management streams for that now, but particle board and flatboard are hard to recycle because the wood is infused with resin and chemicals like formaldehyde. In the three R’s, you pretty much go from Reduce, Reuse to Reject.

Much better that we find a way to simultaneously Reduce by not buying something new when we can Reuse something that, honestly, can’t be Recycled.

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