How safe are plastic shoe boxes (environmental question)

lillethMarch 24, 2008

My closet has shelves for shoe boxes. I have been contemplating replacing all my cardboard shoe boxes with plastic ones from Dollar Store or Big Lots. But, I am concerned about the dangers or having too much plastic in one closet. I have a lot of shoes. I know there are many reports that it is best not to microwave food in plastic, freeze bottled water in plastic, etc. But what about offgassing from plastic storage? My husband wants to get rid of cardboard because he is sure it brings bugs into the house. I suppose he has a good point. How to weight the good and bad of different storage options is my question.

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I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. I guess if they had a strong smell you could let them air out a while first but I don't notice that in the boxes I've bought.

I'd suggest some research on the "reports" you've been misinformed on. A lot of the talk is just that. The email about microwaving in plastic is so overblown it's substantially a hoax although it has a grain of truth in it. You should use microwave safe plastic and not let plastic wrap come in contact with the food.

The claim about freezing water in a bottle is a hoax. "This is an urban legend. Freezing actually works against the release of chemicals. Chemicals do not diffuse as readily in cold temperatures, which would limit chemical release if there were dioxins in plastic..."

People shouldn't be so afraid of plastic. Fer cryin out loud if plastic was as dangerous as some would have us believe, we sure couldn't ride in ANY new car these days now could we? :) Look in your refrigerator... plastic all over from the butter tray, to the drawers, to the shelves to the walls of the refrigerator. Plastic milk jugs have been used for decades. Plastic drinking straws, plastic flatware, etc.

When I managed convenience stores we used plastic shoe boxes for storing the food, like hot dogs, polish, etc, which incidently were wrapped in plastic from production! And the Health Department endorsed this.

Of the two thoughts, I'd lean toward your hubby's, however, I'm not so sure about the cardboard bringing in bugs. Musty smell? Mold/Mildew if they get damp, even from humid weather? Yes, but I'm not so sure about bugs once they're in there.

Get the plastic. And ignore email chain letters! :) You'll be much happier! Happy organizing!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 2:39AM
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Have you considered that plastic doesn't 'breathe'? That's often important (breathing) when you store things so they don't suffer from any moisture problems, though if you air things out carefully prior to storage and keep the boxes sealed up in a dry place, you should be ok.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 6:26AM
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To cynic: I am amongh the world's great skeptics, which is why I raise the question to begin with.

Lucy, I have thought about the fact that plastic doesn't breathe. We don't have a damp house, so moisture is not a problem in my closet, but I have wondered if plastic would pose a problem.

And of course once I get the plastic boxes, I throw out the cardboard. So I want to make sure I'm doing the right thing.

Anyone else have thoughts on this? I searched for another thread that would address this but didn't see one.

How do most of you store shoes?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 10:34AM
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I think that cardboard shoe boxes shouldn't be a problem w/ bugs.
True, some bugs would eat the glue, etc., but unless you actually have a problem, I don't think it's crucial to eliminate them all.

Maybe stuff like wool should be stored in something that's bugproof, but not shoes.

CORRUGATED cardboard offers cockroaches wonderful places to breed, so I tend to avoid it--those are the boxes that will actually *bring* bugs into your house.

The boxes currently in your closet are not going to be bringing in any NEW bugs (and shoe boxes aren't corrugated, so generally don't bring bugs in anyway). They won't lure bugs from somewhere else, and they won't offer bugs much more in the way of food than the other items around your house.

You wrote: "once I get the plastic boxes, I throw out the cardboard.'

Someone once said something on the kitchen remodeling forum that really struck me. We were talking about flooring, but this is true of everything:
The "greenest" flooring material is the floor you *already* have.

If you want to be environmentally responsible, use what you've got until it is a problem. Don't throw something out, just to upgrade it, unless you've got proof of a problem.

Are you finding bugs among your shoes? I bet not. If not, then you don't have a problem.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 11:24AM
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Excellent advice!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 5:41PM
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I've got to agree with talley -

the 'greenest' option is to only replace shoe boxes as they fall apart.

for storage, particularly with canvas shoes, those little dessicant packs are a good idea in a plastic box....for dress shoes that haven't gotten stuck in the rain or something? a bottom liner cut from the 'old' cardboard box will take up any residual moisture, without overdrying the leather (the dessicant packs can, over the long term, cause dry-rotting of leather...but we're talking years, here)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 12:46PM
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I don't store my shoes in shoeboxes unless they are glittery bridesmaid shoes or the ones I plan to wear to the Oscars. My shoes just sit on the shelves.I have two 9 foot long shelves over my clothing and my shoes reside there.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 7:33PM
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I only recycle cardboard shoe boxes when they are ready to fall apart. I wouldn't waste my money with plastic boxes - what's the point. I've stored my shoes this way for 20 years and I have never found a bug near the boxes. If I'm out and my shoes get wet, I leave them by the door to dry. Then I wipe off spots and back into the cardboard they go.

Talley is right - the greenest thing you can do is use the cardboard.

I do have a huge problem with throwing out plastics...if they end up in landfills but that's another issue.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 10:13PM
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I think I wouldn't like the plastic myself, because I would want my shoes to be able to be aired a bit while I'm not wearing them. This probably isn't a big problem with heels, etc. but I think letting shoes air out is probably good so any built up moisture from wearing the shoes will air out.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 12:13AM
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