Green Moving: Cardboard or Plastic?

While cardboard boxes have long been recycled and reused for Phoenix local moves, plastic totes are actually beginning to increase in popularity. They are strong, sturdy, and keep out moisture and bugs. Many people and Phoenix long distance movers are beginning to completely replace traditional cardboard boxes with these reliable plastic totes.

You may ask, is the switchover really worth it? Many Phoenix moving companies have started to go with this trend, making them a more environmentally friendly choice. Here are a few considerations for you to keep in mind as you make the decision for yourself.

Green Moving: Cardboard or Plastic?


Generally, plastic totes come in just a few shapes and sizes – rectangle, square, or sometimes circle. These can be long and narrow, tall and wide, or anywhere in between. While this works great for items such as dishes, utensils, books, toys, or bedding, it does not work so well for larger or more oddly shaped items such as a TV or a sculpture.

Cardboard boxes can be found in essentially every shape and size, so your choice may depend on the types of items you have in your home. If you have more items that can easily fit inside plastic totes, that will work well for you. If you have more specifically-shaped things, you may find that cardboard boxes are a better choice for your Phoenix local movers to use.


Initially you may think that plastic totes will be much more durable than cardboard boxes. They do not break down from moisture, they can be used repeatedly for many years, and do not fully decompose. However, think about it this way: if you stack several packed totes on top of each other, the likelihood of the bottom ones bending or cracking is pretty high. But, if you stack several loaded cardboard boxes on each other, they are more likely to stand firm and support each other.

Cardboard boxes tend to be quite sturdy when stacked, while plastic totes get wobbly the higher they stack. This means that while packed inside a moving truck, the chance of totes falling over and breaking is very high, while cardboard boxes can pack right next to each other and help keep each other secure.


Cardboard boxes will win this debate every time. Consider that boxes can often be picked up for free from big box stores or other companies, or purchased for about $1-$2 per box. Additionally, they are have straight edges which means they can be stacked right next to each other and be more space-effective inside a moving truck. In the end that equals less trips for your Phoenix movers, and less money spent all around. Because moving is so expensive in itself, any area that money can be saved is a win.

Plastic totes typically cost $5 minimum per tote, which means buying enough totes for all your possessions will add up to quite a financial investment. Add to that the expense of hiring professional movers, even the most affordable moving company in Phoenix, and you are looking at an extremely pricy moving day. Additionally, plastic totes are angled and take up more space inside a moving truck, so it is likely the movers would have to take more trips in order to get all your possessions transferred from one location to the next, which will again be a bigger expense.


As previously mentioned, cardboard boxes are square, and therefore quite simple to pack into a square moving truck. They are the same size all around, so it is easy to pack items inside and stack them all together.

On the other hand, plastic totes are angled with rounded edges, which means it can be challenging to fit as many items as you would like to inside. Plus, it makes packing them in the truck much more challenging for the movers, as they just do not fit well. The lids are bulky which takes up space, and the movers will need to keep in mind the fact that the bottom totes in a stack could easily crack or break if the weight is not properly distributed.


If you are considered about the environmental impact of using plastic totes versus cardboard boxes, consider first that totes can be reused over and over for many years. Unfortunately, you will need to have plenty of space to store them, since they must be stacked and all the lids must be accounted for, whereas cardboard boxes can break down flat and take up way less space while being stored.

The more environmentally friendly option will undoubtedly be cardboard boxes. They are made entirely out of trees, so eventually they will completely break down and put nutrients back into the ground. However, plastic takes many decades to even begin breaking down, and is filled with chemicals and other materials that are harmful to the environment.

In the end, you will need to weigh all the factors and make the choice that is right for you. Remember that your choices can have a big impact on the environment, your moving budget, the ease of your move, the stress of moving day, and more. Consider the pros and cons of each, and make the best choice for you.

Leo’s Moving has been an excellent, successful moving company for several decades. Our expert movers perform both local and long-distance moves, and will even come to your home and pack your belongings for you. We offer a full range of moving services, and will handle your moving day with ease. Contact Leo’s Moving at 480-447-8821 to find out more about our affordable services and to schedule your move with us!

Published by:

Leo’s Moving
2942 N 24th St #114
Phoenix, AZ 85016

Phone: (480) 447-8821
Email: [email protected]