When most people move, they start by asking family and friends for their spare boxes. You might also spend weeks collecting them and hunting around at the back of grocery stores for their extras.

If you ever wondered if there is a better way, you should know that you have options. For example, trying to cut down on waste is a reasonable goal during a move.

You don’t have to use boxes for everything you pack. These packing tools are easy to reuse, and you might even have a bunch of them around the house already.


Remember those old infomercials where people could pack a dozen puffy coats into a single bin? Space-saving bags are the key. These bags rely on suction to remove excess air, which takes them down to a fraction of their size.

Even plastic garbage bags can become space-savers if you have a vacuum hose and you can tie it quickly enough. Just keep in mind that space-saving backpacks aren’t bulletproof. If you toss them onto something sharp, they might puncture or split.

And don’t forget that these bags cut down on volume, not mass. So loading 20 pounds into a small box will still be pretty heavy.


Plastic bins are a handy solution if you want something that acts like a box but isn’t cardboard. They come in various shapes and sizes, with colors to match your organization system.

Clear plastic bins can be an excellent alternative to boxes because they’re easy to pack and simple to see what’s inside. If you find yourself opening boxes because you can’t remember what you put there, this will save you a lot of time.

It’s tempting to find bins that will work for every item you have, but that may not be practical. Instead, try to limit it to two or three sizes. That way, they will stack securely and keep your packing more efficient.


Lots of people have suitcases. You may have several that you use for different types of travel. Why not fill them up with things instead of moving them empty?

Suitcases also work well instead of boxes because they have a hard shell. All that protection from the hard surfaces at the airport could provide just the right cushion for delicate items.

Unfortunately, suitcases aren’t easy to label or tape closed, although you might be able to lock them. The good news is that you probably don’t have tons of them, so it should be simple to recall what is inside.

Soft Bags

Some belongings are too big for a box, and this is the perfect time to use a soft bag. Duffel bags can provide extra protection for unwieldy items like hockey sticks.

Make sure the bag closes tightly and isn’t full of stuff likely to break. If you’re using self-storage or a moving pod to help you, you might be able to save yourself a box.

Moving without boxes doesn’t have to be intimidating. By using these alternatives, you may save money and a trip to the dump. For tips on packing for your move, learn more here. You’ll find the principles of packing that will help you decide if the alternatives to boxes is right for you.