Sure, the primary use of shipping containers is in their name: they ship things. But shipping containers, far from being hunks of steel only good for one job, serve a wide variety of purposes and can be reused in tons of creative ways.
Here’s a handful of alternative ways shipping containers can be used for your next home or business project!
We’ve all seen some great YouTube videos of homes made out of shipping containers. You don’t have to be rich or have a background in architecture or engineering to make it a reality for your next house. Even now, you can create a unique and energy-efficient home out of one or more shipping containers depending on how much space you need!
Reusing these containers is a much better alternative to building a new house from scratch.
Plus, building a house from shipping containers means you get more opportunity to customize its look! And did we mention that expanding your new home is as simple as adding another container or two to the mix?
Similarly, you can add some valuable space to your existing property by using a shipping container as a shed or garage. Need a spot to park your car or just a place to store all your tools and garden supplies? A shipping container can fulfill its original purpose without being expensively shipped around the world. Plus, you can keep shipping containers dry and cool (add link to humidity blog) which is ideal for a lot of volatile materials or sensitive compounds.
In keeping with the general theme of adding to your existing property, consider using a shipping container to serve as a workshop. You don’t have to keep it closed; getting rid of one or more of the walls will let you create an open-air workshop where you can set up workbenches, tool chests, cabinets, and more.
This is a particularly good idea if you want a workshop for tinkering with automobiles or motorcycles, as you can roll the vehicle in question up to the shipping container workshop without things being too crowded.
It’s hard to get to the movie theater these days, but you can use a shipping container as an outdoor movie theater for yourself!
For this idea, you’ll want to keep all the walls intact except for a single door to get in and out. Then set up a sound system and some comfy couches and you’re good to go. With a little soundproofing, the shape of the shipping container will make any sound from the film echo all the more powerfully. It’s a great way to lose yourself in your favorite movie for a little while.
If you have a more entrepreneurial spirit, you can make a food truck business out of a shipping container (or several). Getting rid of one or more walls is a necessity since you need a place for your guests to line up and order some of whatever food you decide to make.
But a shipping container serves well as a food truck base because of their portability and size. Simply haul it to different places around the city and watch the people line up.
And it’s just about the perfect size to host a small kitchen and a few talented chefs without having to take out a big loan on traditional restaurant space.
More medically minded people might see the potential for shipping containers to serve as emergency medical centers or clinics.
In fact, this strategy can already be seen in countries around the world as organizations like Clinic in a Can, who use shipping containers as mobile clinics ideally suited for serving hard-to-reach populations or people without access to quality medical care.
If you already work for a hospital or are looking to expand the capabilities of your organization, consider shipping containers as a cost-effective way to bring medical care to underserved communities.
Another great potential use for shipping containers is to build your very own Sauna. That’s right; you can make a home sauna out of a shipping container if you have a little bit of creative talent and a willingness to put wood strips over the interior.
You’ll definitely want to cover everything in wood and will have to do some plumbing work to make sure that you can feed steam into the sauna reliably. But once all that’s done, you’ll have a perfect sauna all to yourself.
Many colleges are looking into collections of shipping containers as affordable student housing solutions.
You can stack these on top of one another and give students the communal experience of living in close quarters in communities while avoiding the high charges of traditional new structures. Even better, shipping containers allow you to organize how the living spaces are set up because of their simple, standardized, volumetric shape.
Dig a hole in your backyard that’s big enough and you can set the shipping container down inside it. Fill it up and you’ve got yourself a perfectly sized swimming pool for one or more people.
In fact, it’s already suited for laps or back-and-forth swimming, so it’s even better if you primarily swim for exercise purposes. Remember, you will need to hire someone to do extensive piping and filtering work for the new pool, or otherwise handle this aspect yourself.
Similarly, you can use a shipping container as a large garden. You can remove as much of the wall height of the container in question as you like. But in the end, you’ll have an enclosed space that’s perfect for a garden of your own design.
You might need to bring in topsoil to build up a good bottom layer that has enough space for plant roots to expand. But this could be a great option if you don’t have a lot of actual raw ground in your backyard at the moment.
If you work for a construction company, you might look into using shipping containers as portable toilets.
You’ll need the help of a plumber, but these mobile containers can serve as rows of toilets that can easily be shipped from construction site to construction site.
Need more office space? Don’t build a whole new structure from scratch. Instead, grab a collection of shipping containers for a much cheaper overall cost and develop them into a new office space that can be expanded by knocking down walls when you line the various containers up.
You can alternatively use different containers as different sectors or long cubicles. In essence, the great thing about using these containers for office space is that you can set them up however you like!
Or, we also sell office containers that have been pre-prefabricated with office essential furniture and spaces. Learn more on our office store page.
If you aren’t interested in creating a whole new home out of shipping containers, you can always use them to expand or add to your current property. Consider using a shipping container to create a deck or patio, especially if you have multiple levels for your house.
These containers can be painted or covered with different materials if you want the aesthetic to match your existing home, too – consider adding a wood layer over a shipping container and using the skeletal structure as a support for a new deck, for instance.
Farmers might consider looking at the shipping containers as barns, whether portable or permanent. One or more shipping containers can provide significant space for animals of all species, especially since you can integrate multiple containers into a larger network.
Add a few gates at different entrances and exits and you have perfect partitions between different animals, feeding lots, and so on. Since shipping containers naturally funnel traffic into one or two directions, herding animals in or out of the containers will be simple every time.
You can even use multiple shipping containers as barns and ancillary supply storage compartments or zones.