Are Shoe Boxes Recyclable?

For most people, recycling is now as common and natural as throwing something away. We’re all trying to reduce the amount of waste we produce and recycling as much as you can is one of the best ways of doing this. But one of the problems with recycling is that not all materials are fully recyclable, if at all, and there’s no guarantee that your local authority is able to recycle everything anyway.

In general, shoe boxes are made from cardboard and should be recyclable. But, there can be issues when it comes to coloring and treatment. If the box is relatively plain, you should be good to go, but if it is dyed or has a plastic covering or even just stickers attached to it, then you might run into trouble.

Are Shoe Boxes Recyclable

The sticker issue is simple enough to deal with; just peel it off or, if you can’t, cut that small section out and recycle the rest. Throwing away a small section but recycling the majority is a much better option than just throwing the whole thing.

If the cardboard has been dyed, painted, or is covered in a plastic material then double-check the information. You might be able to take off whatever aspect is non-recyclable.

A lot of brands are trying to lower their waste and environmental impact so check out their website if the box itself doesn’t provide much information. They will likely have a policy regarding their boxes and will be able to tell you if it’s recyclable with household waste or you might even be able to take the box back to the store or send it back to them so that it can be reused.

Recycle by Reusing

Industrial recycling isn’t the only option for reducing waste and you can recycle a shoe box by reusing it yourself. 

If your local area can’t recycle shoe boxes, that doesn’t mean you have to resort to throwing them in the trash. Here are a few ways to reuse a shoe box.


This might seem obvious but we’re so accustomed to automatically throwing things away that it’s worth pointing out. If you’ve purchased an expensive pair of shoes or ones that have a material that needs protecting, you might want to consider keeping the box for the shoes themselves. If the shoes are only for special occasions, then keeping them in a box will make storing them much easier.

The box can also be used for storing keepsakes or craft and sewing equipment, and basically anything that doesn’t have its own place in your home. If you watch any movie or tv show with a sentimental scene, it usually involves someone showing items they keep in a shoe box so it’s a classic idea that simply works.

Home Movie Projector

This is a really cool one. All you need is an empty shoe box, a smartphone, and a magnifying glass. Cut a hole at one end for the magnifying glass (this will be the lens) and glue it in place.

Next, you can either lean your phone against the other end of the box or add an extra piece of cardboard to hold it steady. Then just aim the box at a blank wall, turn your screen’s brightness up as high as it will go, and play a film! This is a super simple and cheap way of setting up a home movie theater.

Cable Tidy

If you’re tired of your TV or computer cables getting tangled or just sitting there in an ugly bundle, you can transform an empty shoe box into a cable tidy.

Simply decorate the box however you like, cut some circular holes on one side, and put the cables in. 


Shoe boxes can become anything with a bit of childish imagination.

There’s something about cardboard boxes that delights kids, so just give the empty shoe box to your kids or any young children in your family and let them become creative with it. 

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a cheap way to entertain your kids on the weekend, sit them down with the shoe box and help them turn it into something. A few strategically placed holes and some paint can turn the box into a dolls’ house, a garage, or anything else they can think of. This is a great idea for a budget-friendly weekend.

Rules for Recycling

Recycling can be a difficult process, especially when you’re dealing with mixed materials. Recycling rules can vary by local authorities and it can become quite complicated, so here are a few things to consider before throwing something in the recycling bin.

Always check the information on the packaging

Just because something might seem recyclable, like plain cardboard, plastic, or glass, doesn’t mean it is.

Some colored plastics and glass cannot be recycled and if cardboard has anything on it, say grease on a pizza box, then it can’t be recycled. To save yourself the trouble, always make sure to check.

Check your local authority website

This might seem obvious but recycling can change area by area and you don’t want to risk your recycling not being picked up or being fined for sorting it in the wrong way.

Go waste-free

One of the best ways to avoid the frustration of working out what can and cannot be recycled is to buy something package-free. This might not be possible for something like shoes which need to be protected by a shoe box, but can be easier for a lot of other items.

Try to limit the amount of packaging you need so you’re spending less time sorting your recycling. This also means that, should you buy something where going package-free isn’t an option, you will at least have balanced things out a little bit.

Whatever you choose to do with your empty shoe box, make sure it has as little impact on the environment as possible. There are so many options that don’t involve simply throwing it away.

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