If you are moving and you need boxes, the kabadiwalas are the ones to see. Just ask the locals where to find them. When you want to unload all those boxes (or piles of newspapers or magazines or just about anything else), call the kabadiwala to collect them.The rates for buying or selling boxes, magazines, etc. are usually by the kilo. Incidentally, even if you go to a store to get a used box for shipping something, you will usually have to pay for it. If you don’t buy it, they will sell it to the kabadiwala.
So who are the kabadiwalas? They are India’s recyclers. You could also say that a kabadiwala is a ‘junk dealer’, but ‘recycler’ is more to the point. They recycle just about anything. The shop or yard of a kabadiwala is typically stuffed with piles of flattened cardboard boxes, stacks of newspapers, scrap lumber, dead motors being stripped for parts, etc.
You’ll often see boys on bicycles or with push-carts roaming the cities and towns (especially in the more upscale neighborhoods, since the poor don’t have much to recycle) calling out to buy newspapers or boxes or whatever is their particular specialty. There are many people involved in the indigenous recycling scheme—rag-pickers, bottle collectors, etc. Many of them sell their wares to the kabadiwalas; others sell stuff on the sidewalks or perhaps even door-to-door. Unsellable items may be taken home for other uses, such as patching the roof.
Anything that can be reused in some way, gets recycled. Indians are astonishingly creative in their recycling. Since the majority of the population lives on less than $2 a day, this is essential.
By the way, if you really feel you have to have new boxes, your best bet is to look in the phonebook (assuming you can find one) for packers and movers.