6 Ways to Reuse Containers for A More Sustainable Lifestyle

In the search for ways to make our lifestyle more sustainable, not just when it comes to our carbon footprint, but also financially, containers have risen in popularity over the past few years, to the point where there are entire communities built around them and their various uses for sustainability purposes.

Their desirability may be puzzling, to the uninitiated, but they are an affordable, versatile, long-term solution to a host of issues modern life poses, from affordable housing to sustainable agriculture or storage. Here are 6 ways in which containers help us affordably create a more sustainable lifestyle.

What Makes Shipping Containers Sustainable?

Some might be wondering what freight containers have to do with sustainability. In actuality, this kind of container has a lot of hidden advantages that can become useful to everyday individuals; they can be repurposed from commercial use to personal use.

  • They already exist and can be repurposed. The most important aspect of container use is that they already exist. That means that by giving them a new purpose, you are reusing something that had fallen into disuse and abandoned to become trash and avoiding creating something new.


  • They have an exceptionally large storage capacity. Because they are made to be so spacious, that makes them ideal not just for commercial storage and shipping, but also for personal storage, and even housing or farming.


  • They are very solid and heavy-duty. They are built to last, which is incredibly important, especially if they are going to be used for housing or in farming, as storage for animal feed or similar uses. You are avoiding using building materials, thus cutting down on costs and your carbon footprint. They will not need to be replaced, or at least not frequently, making them more sustainable than other options.


  • They are weather-proof. You do not have to worry about the rain, snow, or wind damaging the inside or outside of the container. That means they can be insulated and turned into a living space, storage, or even a brand-new commercial space – one that can be shipped wherever you need it. There is no need to replace it, buy or build a new one for years to come.


What Can They Be Used for?

They are said to be incredibly versatile, but what are some common uses if you have access to an existing container? Here are a few cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways to reuse a shipping or storage container.

  1. Turn It into A Container Home

Perhaps the most obvious way to use it, and the most sustainable and cost-saving way is to turn it into a living space. There is a significant movement surrounding container homes and their many advantages, from reducing your carbon footprint to providing affordable housing in an age where that is becoming increasingly hard to come by.

It is easier than you think to turn a container into a living space. They are easy to upgrade and convert, including equipping them with electricity, plumbing, and running water, one can add windows, heating – all the luxuries of modern, urban living, but at a fraction of the cost.

Considering the average mortgage rate for a traditional home, the overall savings are astronomical when you choose to live in a container home. It is a property you own and can do up yourself, and you can even move it with you if you want to travel or pursue opportunities elsewhere.

Most importantly, living in a container home is one of the most sustainable choices you can make. Not only are you reducing demand for more new builds, but you can also live off the grid by installing solar panels, rainwater collection, and growing your own food. It is an excellent way to reuse what is already there and give it a whole new purpose.

  1. Open A Business

Renting or purchasing a commercial space to start a business can be a significant expense, and a source of stress, especially if you travel with your business or change locations. That is why utilizing a storage container for a commercial space is genius.

First, it’s a space that you can rent for a low fee, or even get for free if you are reusing an existing container. That is going to make a major difference to monthly costs, especially to new businesses that are just getting off the ground.

Second, a container is a very versatile space that can be turned into pretty much anything you need it to be. Their easily stackable nature also means you can get a bigger space if you need it. You can still limit it to a small shop such as a pop-up coffee place, gift shop, or office space, but you can also transform it into a more “traditional” commercial space, like a beauty salon, event space, or even hotel.

Third, a container is extremely easy to ship. You can transport it anywhere you need it, and even stack multiples ones on top of each other. Especially if you have a small boutique – whether you’re making floral arrangements, selling coffee, or even offering services like dog grooming – you can massively benefit from being able to move where the clients are and take advantage of a new area.

  1. Create A Container Farm

In addition to container homes, another use has gained popularity in recent years, and that is the creation of container farms. These self-contained eco-systems rethink and reshape the traditional farm and create a new, compact, sustainable way to grow food, thus saving space, land, and resources.

A container farm is a great solution for urban farming, as they do not require huge tracts of sprawling land, and instead focus on efficient use of space and resources. Anyone can start a farm in a container they own or rent that is easily accessible, no matter where they live.

You can create a container farm for personal use, or it can be a viable business. Beyond just being a sustainable option, it also makes a lot of financial sense. It is a fully controlled environment where you are not at the mercy of the elements, so you can more efficiently plan and predict each crop, saving you time, effort, money, and valuable natural resources.

  1. Use It for Storage

In line with their original purpose, a lot of people continue to use containers as storage space. Many pay to rent more traditional storage space, so why not minimize those costs, and utilize a container, instead?

If you downsized your home and have leftover items, are moving abroad and need somewhere to store your belongings in the meantime, or have items you need to sell, but cannot store inside your home – a motorcycle, a boat, yard equipment, and other seasonal items – they can easily fit in a storage container, where they can be safely locked away and protected from the elements.

  1. Use It to Move

Americans move house an average of 11 times throughout their lives. That is 11 times you need to pack up everything you own and pay to ship it across the country. It is stressful, time-consuming, and incredibly expensive, with moving vans charging by the hour.

That is why shipping containers make wonderful shipping solutions even for private individuals. They are very roomy, easy to access and load in and out of, extremely easy to ship, since that is their original purpose, and you can get them for free or rent them inexpensively.

Especially if you are already using it as storage, it is only a matter of getting from point A to point B, with no extra stress or costs involved.

  1. Rent It Out

If you already own a shipping container that you are not using for one reason or another, you can always allow someone else to use it. Renting storage containers is very popular at the moment because there is a container shortage. Owners are hoarding them, and most people are looking to buy them, but that is, of course, not the most sustainable way to acquire one.

The best way to go about it is to ideally use one that already exists, to eliminate the need to manufacture a brand new one, as is currently happening with most buyers. The next best thing is to rent it from someone who already owns it.

So, if you want one to use, but do not need it all year round, renting it from someone is the more sustainable and cost-efficient way to do it. On the flip side, if you own it and are not using it, renting it out to a farmer who needs it for storage, for example, is a great way to give it a purpose.

Bottom Line

There is a lot that we can do nowadays to make positive changes in our lifestyle, even with surprising materials or items such as containers. Perhaps not something most of us would think about, shipping and storage containers are actually very versatile and fit perfectly into a sustainable lifestyle.

They’re sturdy, spacious, and most importantly – they’re already there, so they require no extra resources to become something useful.

With an emphasis on reusing something that has already been used and subsequently abandoned, a discarded container can become a living space, a commercial space, a farm, a storage space, or even a stream of additional income.

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