Since I bake a lot, there tends to be a lot of empty egg cartons in my house. I have come up with some creative ways of using them so that they serve a practical purpose rather than just making some kids craft that will sit around until I think the kids won't mind if I threw them away.
For the most part I simply went with the idea that these things are disposable and go in our city compost trash bin.
One of the most common uses I have for the empty carton is to use the lid to hold our table butter. My family uses this to put on their bread or biscuits, and I've always found it handy to have softened butter out. I like to keep the butter in its wrapper to keep anything gross out of the butter. The beauty of using the egg carton as a butter holder is that you can clean your knife on it to prevent crumbs from getting into the butter and if it gets nasty then there is no need to worry about washing it out.
The next purpose is probably more common, and that is to use the egg cups as a paint palette. My youngest has just gotten into finger painting, so this works great. If it gets really nasty we can just throw it away and get a new one.
Another common practise is to use the cups for seed starters for your garden. I love this idea because the cups compost easily. Once your sprouts are ready to plant then you can just pop them in the ground. For certain plants you can even keep the cups in place, but for larger plants you may want to separate the cups. The egg carton is strong enough to hold the seeds for about a month before they get too weak, so for anything that requires a longer germination then it is best to start your seeds between two wet paper towels until it sprouts and then put it in a cup of dirt in the egg carton.
After researching on the internet I found a few more interesting ideas for empty egg cartons. Here are my top five picks:
1. Fire starter - place either dryer lint, charcoal briquette, sawdust, ect in the egg carton, then take some melted paraffin wax to seal up the open end and keep the fuel in place.
2. Christmas ornament organizer and cushion - this one seems self explanatory. There is a lot of things you can use these for organization, but none are quite as practical as Christmas ornaments. These would work best for those small bulbs or hand made treasures.
3. Packing material - this could serve as a cheap and more environmentally friendly alternative to styrofoam packing peanuts.
4. Coin separator - perhaps it is because I haven't figured out the money system over here, but you can use the cups to sort out your coins.
5. Tiny portable compost pile - the lid to the egg carton works well to hold your food scraps you want to compost. Since the egg carton is compostable there is no bowl to empty, just put all your scraps in the lid and toss the lid in the compost bin.
I am continuing to find new ways to reduce or reuse our everyday trash. Stay tuned as I look for new ways to reduce our trash output. We have recently been informed that starting in June our already tiny trash bin will only be picked up fortnightly (that means every other week). So we need to reduce our trash to just one white kitchen bag a week. For a family of five that will be a challenge, esp since the baby is still in nappies (diapers).