Making the Most of Recycled Packaging Supplies

You might be surprised to find how easy it is to accumulate enough boxes and paper stuffing to pack and ship all of your gifts for the holidays or any time of year. In fact, most free shipping items come right to your door. It is a simple matter of rescuing paper stuffing and boxes that you would typically break down and recycle, or (gasp) throw out, and finding a place to store these recyclable shipping supplies.

Shoe and Boot Boxes & Paper
Shoe and boot boxes come in a range of sizes and are just the right strength to be used as gifts boxes or for shipping. If you have a large family, then you have even more sizes and options to choose from. Always keep the box when you purchase footwear. Different size boxes can be nested to save on storage space. Take out and fold all the tissue wrap inside. Shoes and boots often come with a variety of light and heavy weight paper wrapping all of which can be reused for the interior wrapping of your next gift.

Books, Music and DVD Boxes
Ever notice that Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other media retailers send you a box five times the size of the item you bought? Break these boxes down and save them. Remove all labels before reusing them or cover the old labels with very dark marker or sturdy duct tape.

Speaking of Media…
To fill the vast amount of empty space around books, music and DVDs, sellers fill the box with air bubble packaging that looks like a snake of blown up resealable bags. I know your kids love to make a racket dancing on these — they make even bigger popping sounds than bubble wrap — but saving bubble packs will come in handy next time you want to ship something. They are a bit cumbersome to store, so one way to deal with that long string of bubbled air is to stash them in a leftover retail bag and hang them from a hook in the garage or a storage room. You can also separate the connections but do this sparingly since the connections are useful to keeping items still when you reuse the packaging. This is extremely light weight filler, a definite keeper if you ship internationally.

Your Online Purchases
People are buying online more than ever and nearly anything you order will arrive in a sturdy box that can be broken down and stored flat. Again, watch out for labels when you reuse the box. These shipments also come with an assortment of bubble wrap, paper stuffing, foam rolls and pouches, depending on the retailer. Fold the paper, which when folded will store to about one-tenth of its original size. Roll bubble wrap and foam like you would a poster. You will never have to buy package stuffing again.

Fill the Box
Now that you’ve saved all of this money on packaging supplies, the next time you have extra room in the box add an extra gift to your gift to fill up empty space! Dishtowels and pot holders make great package stuffing, as do hand towels for the bathroom. Holiday themed linens are abundant and can be purchased at huge discounts post-holiday and saved as stuffers for the following year. For kids try adding a stuffed animal, bean pillow, crib size blanket or pair of rolled up PJs to complete the package. In the event that there simply isn’t enough in the box to begin with but a smaller box won’t work either, add in some of your recipient’s favorite cookies or candies. These aren’t soft stuffing items, but they will fill enough volume to reduce the amount of packaging needed.

Saving Gift Wrap
I don’t do this. What a pain! But I do save gift bags and the filler that comes with them. Everything folds flat and can easily be stored in an under-the-bed box made for storing wrapping paper and supplies. Take two of those shoe boxes you saved and put all your ribbons in one and bows in the other then tuck them right by, or inside, the box under the bed.

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