Making Your Business More Efficient

« Back to Home

4 Fun Ways To Put Your Used Packing Materials To Work

Posted on

If you were extra careful to pack your important items for moving or shipping in strong, lightweight, shock-absorbing materials, you may now be wondering what are you supposed to do with all those boxes and fillers. You don't have to clutter your garage with this stuff, nor do you have to throw it wastefully away. Here are four fun and interesting ways to repurpose your packing materials.

1. Foam Peanuts

Foam packing peanuts do a great job of cushioning oddly-shaped items that might otherwise jostle around inside their boxes. Unfortunately, they're a lot less convenient once they're out of the box. Foam peanuts consist mostly of air, which may make them exceptionally light but also makes them relatively bulky. Unless you relish the thought of keeping a giant bag of the stuff in your closet or polluting the nearest landfill, you need to come up with some clever place to put your peanuts -- and your garden just might be the perfect spot.

Are the packing peanuts your shipping company uses made of corn-based starch instead of polystyrene? If so, then they're biodegradable, and that means you can use them as compost. This product will return to Mother Earth naturally and safely, providing raw material for your flowers and plants. But even if the foam peanuts are made of polystyrene, your green thumb can still put them to useful work. Place them in the bottom of your planters as a cheap, lightweight method for improving the planters' drainage.

2. Corrugated Boxes

Cardboard is a staple material of the packing and shipping world, and for good reason. This lightweight, strong, versatile material can take on a wide range of sizes and forms. Corrugated boxes are especially useful -- and not just for packing and shipping. The characteristic wavy sheet comes in several different sizes of waves, or flutes, which provide varying degrees of strength and flexibility. The kind most commonly used in standard packing and shipping applications is called single wall board. This material has a layer of fluting sandwiched between rigid inner and outer boards. You can also get moving boxes made of double wall or even triple wall corrugated cardboard.

What makes corrugated boxes so useful after you've used them for your move or shipment? The air trapped inside the fluting serves as an effective thermal insulator, slowing the transmission of heat or cold between the inside and outside of the box. The thicker the corrugated cardboard, the more insulating power it possesses. Cut pieces off of your boxes and tape them around door frames, windows, vents and any other parts of your home that are permitting air to leak through.

3. Wine Crates

If you used wooden wine or liquor crates to ship your prized beverage collection, you know how reassuring it is to have bottles safely secured by these robust open-ended boxes. But once the bottles have been moved to the bar or cellar, you'll find that the crates can still serve a variety of useful purposes in an eye-catching way. One of the simplest applications is to hang them on the wall as shelves or bookcases. You can paint the crates in complementary colors to match your interior decor or leave the natural wood for a more rustic appearance.

Cyclists may enjoy using a wooden wine crate as a simple, convenient storage option on their bike's front or rear rack. You can attach a crate of the appropriate size by strapping it to the rack with a bungee cord or zip ties. It's a good idea to paint apply a coat of varnish to the crate (and let it dry) before attaching it, especially if you store your bike outdoors or ride in damp conditions.

4. Bubble Wrap

Some people like keeping bubble wrap around after it's done its job as a packing material because they enjoy popping the little air-filled pockets. Sadly, the redesigned version of this popular product no longer pops -- but that doesn't mean you can't get some other interesting post-move uses out of it.

The air pockets in bubble wrap are there primarily to protect fragile objects from external impacts that might damage them. You can use this protective property to keep fruits and vegetables from coming to harm on your next shopping trip. Simply line the inside of your grocery bag with strips or sheets of bubble wrap and you'll never have to worry about bruising the produce during the trip home.

The trapped air inside those pockets is also an effective insulator, just as the air inside corrugated cardboard reduces the transmission of thermal energy. That's another great reason to line your grocery bags with it. Your hot or cold goods will maintain their temperature longer (assuming, of course, that you pack hot and cold items in separate bags) and you won't be in such a rush to get home.

These are just a few of the many fascinating ways you give packing materials a useful, efficient second life of sorts. Ask your local packing and shopping provider for even more enlightening ideas to get the most out of these items! For more information about packing materials, consider websites like