Egg cartons ingeniously cradle fragile cargo. The standard model—known as a 2×6 in packaging parlance—is made of molded recycled paper. You can give that paper yet another life by reusing the cartons in these resourceful ways.
1. Start seedlings
Cut off the lid, fill each cup with potting soil, and plant some seeds. Once the seedlings sprout, cut each cup from the tray and plant it—cup and all.
2. Muffle the band
This Old House technical editor (and former rock-star wannabe) Mark Powers once nailed egg cartons to his apartment walls and ceiling to dampen sound while he was recording.
3. Feed birds
Trim off the lid, thread string through holes in each corner of the tray, fill the cups halfway with birdseed, and hang in a tree.
4. Fire the grill
Melt candle scraps in a double boiler, then fill each cup halfway with sawdust. Carefully ladle the wax over the sawdust, and let it cool. Each cup can now serve as a fire starter—just light the edge.
5. Cushion ornaments
The cartons are ideal for separating small, fragile Christmas ornaments for storage.
6. Organize fasteners
Use your cartons as repositories for screws and bolts removed during appliance or other household repairs. Numbering the cups ensures proper reassembly.
7. Round up tiny spare lights
Those stray 4—watt night—lights and holiday bulbs won’t last long rattling around in a drawer. An egg carton’s cups make for ideal storage. For this use, keep the lid.
8. Ship cheaply
Being stiff but lightweight makes egg cartons excellent replacements for Styrofoam packing peanuts.
9. Manage a farm
Torn up, egg cartons are a great food source in worm farms. If the soil mix is too moist, add dry carton pieces. Too dry? Dunk them in water first.
10. Cool a drink
Now, he wouldn’t try this with paper cartons, but This Old House general contractor Tom SIlva says that in a pinch, the foam variety doubles as a great makeshift ice cube tray when you’re stocking up for guests.
from September 2007