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26 BIG Ideas

The city's leaders in health, science, politics, food, and culture share their game-changing ideas for San Diego in 2016.


(page 18 of 26)

Let’s reuse every cardboard box.

Eaman Talai, Founder and CEO, BoxedGreen

Given our transient population—Veterans! Students! Beach-loving nomads!—it’s no surprise that every year roughly half a million people in the county move. But that also means more than 12 million boxes are needed annually to accommodate those moves. Add to that the millions of boxes that stores and companies go through, and that’s a lot of cardboard waste. Though most gets recycled, local startup BoxedGreen is shifting people’s habits toward reusing before they recycle. “Recycling a cardboard box takes 70 percent of the energy needed to create a new box,” says Talai. “People sometimes forget about the ‘reuse’ in ‘reduce, reuse, recycle,’ but most boxes can be reused up to three more times.” His company’s website connects people who are moving with stores that have gently-used cardboard boxes. Customers buy the boxes, starting at $1 per box, and pick them up at retail stores and storage facilities in San Diego. Talai, who plans to expand to North County, got the idea after seeing stacks of perfectly usable cardboard at a neighborhood store. “It’s easy, good for the environment, and saves you money. No-brainer,” he explains. “We need to get to a point where anytime we discard something, we ask ourselves, ‘Can someone else reuse this?’ One man’s trash can really be another man’s treasure.”

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