Did you know that those cardboard or Styrofoam egg crates can be used for both survival and craft purposes? When SHTF there are going to be a lot of conveniences and luxury items that quite simply just won’t be available.
If you are in a lockdown situation, entertaining children and sorting out your home during the days you can’t go out will fill up the hours.
At best, all the goods you need won’t be readily available, and trying to get your hands on some products that make life easier could be too risky to be worth it.
So, your choice at that point will be to go without the product or find an alternative that works.
You will find tons of articles out there suggesting things that you should hoard now in preparation for a SHTF scenario, but egg crates don’t always make the list.
Granted, storing a lot of egg crates will take up some space in your garage or shed, and storage space is always at a premium, but you can stack them together to conserve space instead of throwing your used egg crates away.
Instead of throwing your used egg crates away, keep them and re-use them or store them for a SHTF scenario.
When storing egg crates for survival, do it properly because of the risk of salmonella and other bacteria that is present in raw eggs. Make sure you wash Styrofoam egg crates thoroughly with soap and warm water.
Do not use bleach directly on Styrofoam, use a diluted solution on a rag or paper towel to wipe them out and then hang to dry.
If your cardboard egg crates get dirty, show a ring at the bottom, or an egg breaks, leaks, or sticks inside, just discard it. It’s not worth the risk and cardboard egg crates can’t really be thoroughly washed out.
You can use a bleach and water solution and quickly dip a fairly clean cardboard egg carton into it to sterilize and then hang it to dry.
Ways to Use Egg Crates
#1. Fire Starters
Cardboard egg crates are great for survival because you can pack them with just anything that lights easily and use them as fire starters.
Things to consider for tinder to be packed inside include Vaseline-soaked cotton balls, dryer lint soaked in wax or rubbing alcohol, or small pieces of dried grass inside the egg carton.
#2. Mosquito and Insect Repellent
Everybody knows bugs hate smoke. If you are isolated enough and aren’t worried about attracting attention to yourself, you can burn cardboard egg cartons, perhaps with some dried sage or lavender.
They will smoke and help repel mosquitoes and other insects. Do not try this with Styrofoam cartons as the fumes will be highly toxic.
#3. Use as Trivet
If you need to take something out of the hot fire and don’t want to set it directly on the ground or even on a table, you can open up several CARDBOARD egg crates and turn them upside down.
Set your hot pan or plate on top and you’ve got an instant trivet that either protects your table or keeps your food up off the ground and out of the direct path of insects.
#4. Use as Seed Starters
Use empty cardboard egg crates to start seeds. Puncture the bottom of each well in two places, add a little soil, and plant your seeds.
Make sure you keep them moist and in a warm place to encourage germination.
When it is time to plant them out simply break the cardboard sections apart and plant into the ground in their cardboard holder – it will dissolve over time. This way the roots of the seedlings are not disturbed.
#5. Mini hot house from an egg crate
If you live in a colder climate and want to start seeds even earlier than usual, you can enclose the egg carton in a clear plastic bag to hold in heat, after you have watered the seeds thoroughly.
Blow the plastic bag up with air from a hairdryer set on cool and seal so the seedlings have space to raise their leaves above the level of the carton.
#6. Eggshells and cartons for raising plants
When you use your fresh eggs from the carton and break them to use them in your recipes, put the half empty shells back into the carton.
You can start seeds right inside the broken egg shells. When it’s time to move the tiny plants into the outside garden, simply lift out the egg shell with its plant, crush the shell around it a bit, place it in the hole, and fill with dirt.
The egg shells supply calcium to the roots and soil. The sharp broken edges also serve as a barrier of protection against crawling insects that will try to eat all your young plants.
#7. As Bobbers or Markers when Fishing
You might not need to worry about this if you packed your bug out bag with a fishing kit, but if not, you can use Styrofoam egg crates as bobbers. Cut into twelve pieces or sections.
Puncture the bottom of each section and thread your cord or string through. You will want to string two pieces together with the open sides facing one another.
Position along the net or string where you need it and then fasten the two sections together with glue, or sap to seal. Styrofoam crates will hold up longer than cardboard ones of course.
#8. Long-Term Storage for Eggs
This is the original intended use of course but during a post-SHTF scenario, you will need to preserve your eggs using mineral oil so you can extend their shelf life.
Keeping them in cartons means they stay secure and separated. Keeping them in cartons reduces chance of breakage during storage. See how here:
Cardboard or recycled paper crates can be used to enhance compost by tearing into small pieces and mixing in with the rest of the pile.
You may want to discard any cardboard that has ink markings on it to keep dyes from getting into the soil.
#10. Housing for Edible Insects
One menu item you may not have considered yet for a SHTF scenario is edible insects.
But if you are stuck in your safe room or if you think you may run out of food at your bug out location before you have a garden that produces, then raising your own insects might be an option.
Edible insects, such as crickets and grasshoppers, can be kept in cardboard egg crates until they are needed. One crate can actually house several hundred crickets.
Due to the trends in pesticide use nowadays, make sure you research how to raise edible insects safely.
This video shows how to raise crickets using egg crates. If you can’t bring yourself to eat crickets, then they make good food for your chickens.
If you have somewhere else to keep your crickets, you can tear up cardboard egg crates to use as food for the crickets. Avoid using ink dyed parts of carton.
#11. Organize or Store Small Items
Egg crates, whether made from cardboard or Styrofoam, can make great containers to organize all those little odds and ends. Use them to store things like extra buttons, hair ties, bobby pins, or safety pins.
#12. DIY Mancala Game
Making time for fun is going to be crucial for mental health, especially for kids. Use a cardboard or Styrofoam or cardboard egg crate to make your own mancala game to take everyone’s mind off of things for a little while.
For mancala pieces, consider using marbles, beads, even dried beans or small pebbles, or whatever is suitable and available in your area.
#13. Paint Holders
You can also use polystyrene egg crates as organizer cups to hold paints for art and craft projects. No washing afterwards; simply dump and save water.
#14. Checker Pieces
If you cut cells apart, you can use them as makeshift checker pieces and draw a checkerboard in the dirt or on paper. Or you can string or glue multiple pieces together to make a toy train or toy caterpillar.
You’ll need some paint to distinguish between the checker pieces or if you have no paint then make a plan with small pebbles – black and white/cream or two different types of seeds.
#15. Toys for Kids
You can string or glue multiple pieces together to make a toy train or toy caterpillar:
This video shows you how to make the toy train:
This alligator is really very cute and will keep kids amused making it:
#16. Toy boat
Watch this video to see how a 5-year-old makes a toy boat – he uses a cardboard container which may not last too long in the water – perhaps use a Styrofoam base and if you have a couple of kids to keep amused they can have boat races across a swimming pool or creek near you.
#17. Game of Skill
Place a 12-holder egg carton on the ground outside after having marked each of the holders with numbers.
Let kids collect some small pebbles or use marbles if you have, and they select a particular holder to throw their pebble into. If they do not land in the nominated one they have to try again.
Keep a tally of their scores. You can adjust the rules to the age of the kids as well as the distance they have to stand from the holder. It will encourage counting skills and also motor coordination.
Once a person has landed on a particular number three times then that number is considered closed and the person must move on to closing all of the 12 numbers by scoring three times. The first person to close all the numbers wins.
#18. Noise Insulation
Keeping noise to a minimum is crucial during a SHTF situation. This can be especially difficult to do if you have an infant or young child.
To help muffle the occasional cries and noises, nail the cartons to the walls of your makeshift safe room. This won’t be professional sound insulation, but it will help in an emergency.
If you don’t have a specific safe room, you can nail them onto the inside of the walls of your house to muffle sound. It may not look magazine photo ready but it will muffle the cries of your infant or everyday noise from your kids from people passing by who may want to do you harm or steal your supplies.
#19. As Food Source in Worm Farms
There are many reasons for preppers to keep a worm farm. Cardboard egg crates can be used to feed those worms.
Worms are useful for fishing bait, they are great for your compost pile, and their natural digestive process improves soil over time.
And each worm can eat their weight every day in food, which means they help break down leftovers and other organic material so you don’t have to worry about it piling up during a SHTF situation.
For soil that is too wet, add carton pieces that are dry and for soil that is too dry, wet the pieces down before adding them to the worm farm.
20 Insulation under your (thinnish) foam mattress
If your bug out location is pretty basic and you just have thinnish foam mattresses stored at your BOL, plus a sleeping bag, then a stash of egg cartons will come in handy.
The homeless use cardboard for insulating them from the ground, but egg cartons, although they will flatten with time and weight, will do the trick in preventing the cold seeping into sleeper’s bones from below and provides some cushioning form the hard ground.
21 DIY Candle Molds
Use the Styrofoam egg cartons for this project. You will need candle wicks and will need to use a needle to stab a hole in the bottom of the container and thread the wick through – you’ll be using them upside down for stability so you have cone shaped candles.
Use sticks to balance across the top of the individual cups and wind the wick around. Styrofoam can melt so pour the hot wax in a little at a time.
To make your candles useful for survival add a little tea tree or citronella oil to keep bugs away when you burn them. If burning them inside then add a few drops of essential oil like lavender or vanilla for a pleasant candle fragrance.
Once the candle has set, push it out of the Styrofoam meld gently or if this doesn’t work then peel away the Styrofoam. Do not leave candles in the melds as should the Styrofoam catch fire the fumes are toxic.
22 Paper Clay
Paper clay can be used for projects to keep kids busy during periods of isolation.
It also handy for filling holes between logs or gaps in a makeshift shelter where drafts may come. See how to make it here:
23 As a change holder
Cut the lid off a six-pack egg carton and place the holder on a convenient side table where you can empty your change and sort as you empty.
Later it can go into change jars or be banked. This is just for the short-term when you need to sort quickly.
24 Sorting out your workshop
You know how it goes – you have things tidily organised in containers or jars, but somehow there always seems to be a container or toolbox with a mix of stuff – washers, tacks, etc.
Use your egg carton to save time – a 12-compartment one should be fine. Cut off the lid and as you sort, drop different items or sizes into the various compartments.
It saves times as later you can scoop out the whole lot and dump in the right jar or container so everything is together, rather than one by one searching for and opening and closing containers.
If you have no other containers then these could be more permanent solution – in this case leave the lid on and put similar types of screws, in one and tacks and nails in another.
Make sure they are well labelled so they are easy to find.
25 Teething Puppies
Puppies love ripping up shoes, socks and anything else – usually something valuable you left lying around – like your leather wallet.
Let them rip up egg cartons for fun and when they have made a fine old mess sweep up into a container to use as mulch on the garden, or if you are in an apartment line the base of pots with the bits to keep in moisture before adding potting soil– the puppies will have done most of the shredding for you so this will save time.
26 Kitten/cat toys
Use scissors or a craft knife to separate the compartments in cardboard egg cartons then join two together with a bit of glue – instant cat balls they will love to chase. As an alternative, before you glue the two halves together stab a hole through one carton cone, thread a piece of string through and knot it on the inside so it doesn’t pull through.
Glue the two pieces together then hang up for the cat to bat back and forth or tie to a stick to make the cat chase the moving ball. Or you can make them work for their treats. Watch this video to see how long you can keep your cat amused:
27 Makeshift bird feeder
Put holes in the four corners, then thread string though so it can tie up level to a tree branch, lastly fill the individual compartments with bird seed. See how to do it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7mZ06H9V-4
28 Temporary screw/part holder
You know how it goes when you are replacing a plug or fixing an appliance – you take the screws out and then when you are finished some are missing – and there’s a hunt on.
Have they rolled under the furniture, or got lost in the long pile carpet or lawn, vanished off the windowsill where you carefully put them? Or if there are different lengths of screws it takes trial and error to find the right ones that fit back in the holes.
Take a 6-compartment carton and remove the lid – instant holder for the bits and pieces you are working with. Drop the same size screws into the holders and life will be a lot easier as you put everything back together.
29 Beading container
When you are working with various colours and shapes of beads instead of opening each individual container tip out what you think you will need into a 12 or 6-compartment egg cartons – depending how complicated your design is and work from there – replacing the contents into their individual containers when you have finished.
30 Nail polish organizer
If you have ever stored nail polishes in a drawer lying down you will probably have come across a nasty leakage when one wasn’t fastened properly after use.
Cut a polystyrene or cardboard container to fit a drawer and store nail polishes organized by color in upright rows. This way when looking for a color you can just lift out the whole tray instead of scrabbling through the drawer to select colours.
31 Christmas ornament organizer
Tired of lifting out broken ornaments from the Christmas decoration box. Place delicate ornaments in the compartment then close or if you are using the big trays that take 30 eggs then stack up the trays once filled with ornaments then cling wrap.
When Christmas rolls around again your ornaments will be tidy, clean and ready to hang on the tree.
32 Golf ball storage
In SHTF situations you may not be doing much golfing – keep your golf balls neat and ready to use when things return to normal by placing them in egg cartons.
33 Keeping the hen-house comfortable
If you are running short on straw and need to keep the hens off of hard wood or wire then an egg crate – the type that holds 30-eggs, with straw on top will keep the hens insulated from the cold floor of their nest pens.
To make them comfier for the hens bash down the centre part of the carton so they don’t have a lumpy nest. It makes cleaning out easier – simply remove the whole tray with the straw when needed and dump into the compost.
34 Insulation for small animals’ quarters
Fasten the 30-egg cardboard trays on the inside of rabbit hutches, cat houses or kennels to help with insulation in cold weather. Admittedly the rabbits may eat the trays and the dog might have a chew.
35 Laptop stand
A 30-egg tray placed under your laptop will keep it from getting too warm against a table, or if you work from bed, from making your legs too warm.
If you are in survival mode and need to take jars of canned goods to neighbors or the elderly then pack egg cartons between the jars to keep them from breaking on the trip.
Egg cartons can also be used instead of bubble wrap if packing larger items away like microwaves or electronic equipment that you may not be able to use when there is no electricity.
37 Making pompoms
Kids love making pompoms – these can be used on their winter hats,. Use cardboard egg container lids to cut your circles for the pompom.
If you have run out of egg cartons you can use the cardboard from cereal boxes – in fact any thinnish cardboard box will do.
38 Ice cream cone toy
Some egg cartons have high pointed dividers. A ten-year-old came up with the ice cream cone idea where she cut off the cone shaped piece, decorated it with paint and a cross-hatch pattern to resemble an ice-cream cone – then using the pompoms she had made, filled the cone with pretty pastel pompoms.
39 Ice cream cone sweets
Let the kids cut the cones from the egg cartons, then place two s’mores stuck together with some icing sugar or peanut butter.
In the opening of the cone, spread a little of the icing sugar or peanut butter on the topmost s’more, then dip it in some hundreds and thousands – a pretty snack for kids to make and enjoy.
40 Wreath for Thanksgiving, Easter or other holidays
Using Styrofoam or cardboard egg cartons cut flowers and leaves or other shapes like Christmas bells and arrange onto a cardboard base, glue in place, paint, add glitter or whatever takes the kids’ fancy and hang up to celebrate. See how to make a wreath here:
41 Make a Piñata
Use two or 6 compartment or 12 compartment egg cartons, fill with sweets and cover with pretty paper – the kids can paint their own if you don’t have any available from your stashed craft supplies.
Use string to tie the segments together and hang up to enjoy the piñata. Kids can get creative and make the piñata into a crocodile, dragon or whatever creature they fancy.
Here’s a video on making a dragon they can adapt for their piñata, if a small one is required:
For a large piñata you can use 6 of the 30-egg trays to create a square piñata if you have a lot of kids around.
Tape the edges together and before the last side goes on fill with treats kids can decorate the outside with whatever materials they can find to make it pretty – even some flowers or leaves. Hang up and smash!
Make papier Mache clay as explained here, then mold it over a container of choice, wait to dry then cut out sections:
Put a headlamp or torch inside to make a lantern. You can make ones like Halloween lanterns if there are no real pumpkins around. If cutting out is too difficult then mold the shape with open spaces to allow the light through.
43 Mosquito repellent
Cut the egg cartons into single compartments, place a small stone inside to weight the compartment down, then place some cotton wool soaked in citronella oil in the compartment and place in strategic places to discourage mosquitos.
44. Egg carton owls and pandas
Check this tutorial out to see how to make egg carton owls to entertain kids.
The panda is also a very cute project. There are heaps more animals that can be made from egg cartons – enough for the kids to make a whole zoo!
45 Roses from egg cartons
It’s hard to believe the beauty of these roses made from egg cartons – see how to make them here:
With the completed roses you can make a wreath, decorate a branch or put them on twigs to make a vase full of roses.
46 Lining raised beds
If you have recently made raised beds then line with a layer or two of cardboard egg cartons, water them, then add the soil.
The cardboard will keep the soil moist for longer and prevent weeds coming up from the bottom for long enough to get your plants established.
47 Frost protection
Surround smaller plants with a layer of cardboard egg cartons placed on end before securing your sacking if bad frost is predicted and you simply don’t have enough dried grass to surround your plants.
48 Ice cube trays from plastic egg cartons
Make sure the cartons are well washed before filling with water and placing in the freezer.
This is a useful trick if you are having a fairly big gathering unexpectedly, don’t have enough ice trays, and can’t get to the shop to buy a packet of ice.
49 Improving the soil using the hügelkultur method.
If you are unlucky enough to have bad soil don’t despair, instead use the hugelkultuur method of building up the soil by laying down big branches and plant clippings, a layer of cardboard egg cartons or other cardboard, before you put in the mulch and compost.
The cardboard will help keep in the moisture, feed the earthworms, and get the whole biodynamic process going. See how to make a hügelkultur bed here:
50 keeping baby and toddler socks tidy
Cut the lid off a Styrofoam or plastic 12-egg carton and after sterilising and drying, place pairs of baby socks in the compartments and store in a drawer – it makes it easy to find a pair to suit an outfit instead of scratching around in the drawer.
51 Bedroom mat
There is nothing nicer than a soft fluffy mat underfoot.
If you have enough extra bits and pieces of yarn make loads of pompoms and fasten them onto a backing piece to make a fluffy mat for kids to put their feet on when they get up in the morning.
Use the egg cartons for the pompom pattern as seen in #37. See how to make the mat here:
The video uses toilet roll holders but you can use the egg carton shapes as the base for the pompoms.
Start saving those egg crates! Better yet start using them right now around the house to reduce the amount of waste you send to the landfill but also to save yourself some money.
All of the kid activity ideas can be done at any point, you don’t have to wait for a SHTF scenario. Pull one out the next time the kids get bored and see how much fun they can have reusing egg crates!
updated 04/06/2020 by Jeanie Beales
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart.
For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of nine grandsons and one granddaughter, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.