Posted on 18 Comments

How to recycle a cereal box in six easy steps

How to Recycle a Cereal Box, a painfully obvious tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

Given the proliferation of empty cereal boxes on the kitchen table lately, I am forced to conclude that there must be a misconception surrounding the recycling of these boxes. Allow me to put this misconception to rest: it is not true, that to recycle a cereal box, you need only deposit said box within view of the recycling container.  Recycling cardboard food boxes does take slightly more effort than you may be used to, but I promise it’s not hard.

Shall we begin?

How to Recycle a Cereal Box, a painfully obvious tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

  1. Remove any remaining contents of the box (such as the liner, or any errant Cheerios) and discard them.
  2. If there is a Box Top for Education on the box, please remove it. Now before I lose you here at this step, it is perfectly valid to tear the box top off of the box with your bare hands. I do not expect you to exert yourself and procure a pair of scissors all the way on the other side of the kitchen. That would be madness.
  3. Open up the bottom end of the box.
  4. You should be able to see all the way through the box now, with both the top and bottom ends open. Isn’t that neat? (Feeling playful? Feel free to pause here and pretend the box is a pair of binoculars.)
  5. Flatten the box.
  6. Repeat all of the previous steps for every box on the table.

How to Recycle a Cereal Box, a painfully obvious tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

Place the pile of flattened boxes into the recycling container, and you are done! Hooray! I knew you could do it!

Bonus points: run down to the family room, look around for more empty boxes that haven’t yet made the journey to the kitchen, and recycle them using the steps you just learned.

Isn’t recycling swell?


Similar to the cereal-boxes-on-the-kitchen-table problem, we also have a bottles-and-cans-next-to-the-sink issue.

How to Recycle a Cereal Box, a painfully obvious tutorial from Polka Dot Cottage

This, too, has a simple solution: discard the contents by pouring them down the sink, throw away the cap (in our town, caps are not recycled – a fact you should remember from 2nd Grade Environmental Day), and place the bottle in the recycling bin. That is how you deal with a bottle.

Cans are even easier, as you can eliminate the step with the cap.

In conclusion, while carrying your food and drink containers from the place where you consumed them back to the kitchen is a marvelous start to the recycling process, it is only a start. Boxes, bottles, and cans, need YOU to put them in the bin.

This has been a (painfully obvious) public service announcement. Love, Mom.


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Posted on 18 Comments

18 thoughts on “How to recycle a cereal box in six easy steps

  1. My favorite – my husband’s parents required them to rinse out the milk cartons before putting them in the trash (even pre-recycling era) but let him get away with just setting the empty next to the sink apparently because he still does it to this very day. Sometimes on the counter next to the fridge, sometimes even on the counter next to the trash can. Fortunately, he’s practically perfect in every other way so this I can live with even though it drives me batty.

    1. I have to admit, this post was as much directed to my husband as it was to my kids 😉

  2. In our state, Illinois, you can collect the tabs from the pop cans, and send them to St. Jude’s for children’s cancer research. I only know about Illinois, but I bet this occurs in other states as well.

    1. Yes, my aunt collects them for something – dialysis, I think?

  3. You forgot the step where you make the cereal boxes into postcards…then they’re really recycled!

    1. Oh, cool! They make good gift tags, too. I have a tag-shaped punch that’s a lot of fun to use on boxes like these.

  4. I just forwarded this post to my sons (16 & 20). Think it will help? 🙂

    1. Doubtful. My 13yo just rolled his eyeballs and said, “I know how to recycle a box!” 😉

  5. As a sewing aficionado, you may have written about this before, Lisa: I use cereal box cardboard to line my frequently used pattern pieces. I do 99% of my cutting on a self-healing mat with rotary cutters. Having the pattern on light cardboard makes it quick and easy to place my pattern with a few weights and then cut with minimal shifting. This is not exactly relevant to your recycling post, but I thought I’d brag anyway LOL.

    1. That’s a great idea! I usually trace around my pattern pieces onto the fabric and then cut it on the traced lines – it would be so much easier to trace around cardboard than tissue paper…

  6. Great tutorial for your family. I hope they follow along. I don’t mind breaking down the boxes if they make it to the kitchen counter. It drives me crazy when I have to take them out of the trash though.

    I add two steps to the water bottle part. I empty all bottles and cups of water into one container and water the potted plants on my front porch. I think our recycling program will take caps but so does my favorite art teacher. She loves all sorts of odds and ins that I collect, especially caps of all colors and sizes.

    1. I empty all my water containers onto my plants, too. Uses up the water and saves me having to fill up the watering can and trudge from plant to plant. Even got hubby doing it!

    2. We don’t usually have half-empty water bottles laying around, since we use a Brita pitcher instead of bottle water. But sometimes somebody gets one from somewhere or other.

      I’m not in charge of watering plants at my house. If I were, they’d all be dying of thirst!

  7. All our recyclables end up on the counter next to the back door, 5 steps from the bins in the garage. Drives me nuts, and it’s just hubby and me! I shouldn’t say all, the ones I use get put out there-isn’t one step easier than two?

    1. You would think. That’s where everything ends up here, too – within reach of the bin, but not actually in it.

  8. Lol! Awesome … I’m showing this to my family 🙂

    1. Hope it helps – I just got eye-rolls over here 😉

  9. It’s funny cause the other day, me and my wife talked about recycling and what to do with the old cereal boxes we have, and I joked about it and said, “Maybe we can turn them into cereal Cornflake boxes, cause the ones we buy only comes in foil.

    I guess that’s just the point of creativity I have. This is way way better. Thanks for sharing.

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