Tips and ideas for saving money on shipping and packing material.
Save all the packing elements from the gifts you got through the mail. The bubble wrap, plastic peanuts, pillows, etc. can easily be re-used. Not to mention padded bags, etc. It's frugal and green, too!
By Pamphyila from Los Angeles
I re-use the heavy plastic bags that many catalog stores (and QVC) are using to send clothing, etc. Just turn the bag inside out and attach the label. I also save and reuse any corrugated boxes that I receive. If necessary, flatten the boxes for storage, and again, turn the box inside-out to re-use. Of course, also save any plastic peanuts for re-use.
I always go to the mall stores and get their boxes, bubble wrap, peanuts, etc. Make sure you call ahead of time as some stores keep theirs if they ship to customers!
I trade packing pellets/bubble wrap and boxes to a friend who works on my computer for me for free. She sells on E-Bay and needs all the packing she can get. I check with furniture stores or Pier One, they get furniture and and always seem to have bubble wrap and the thin styrofoam. A lot of small businesses will save things for you if you will ask them and pick a certain day you will pick them up. I find most people are very generous and like the fact they are helping recycle.
Reusing the plastic bags from Walmart and other stores work great for packing. I never run out of plastic bags.
By Cindy in AL
I wad up pages from old magazines or newspapers or junk mail and stuff them into the package to fill in extra space so the items will not move around. People always comment that the items are well-packed and I have never had anything broken using this method. This is free and takes little effort. I use free, clean boxes from a dumpster or store that will be throwing them away for shipping.
My husband and I shred credit card offers, and other mail with personal information in a paper shredder. We save the shredded paper, and use it as packing material. We used tons of it when we were packing boxes before we moved from Iowa to Texas. Anytime you need to ship something, use shredded paper rather than expensive packing popcorn or other material.
Cushion the sides of the box with empty egg cartons. If your breakable item shifts in the peanuts of shredded paper, it will still be protected by the egg cartons.
Always try to have one smaller garbage sack of packing peanuts stored somewhere out of your way but still assessable when you need it. Purchasing packing peanuts for any reason is expensive, but if you save them from packages you have already received, you won't have to buy them. I limit myself to no more than I would normally use in a year and donate the remainder to others (people who sell on e-Bay always need more!).
Saving money on shipping has not yet been discussed. Those shipping prices are really getting high. You either need to keep the package light or send it a shorter distance. Sending something small but valuable may justify the expense. Low value items may not be worth shipping when the shipping cost is as high as the value. If you do a mail order or internet order it can be shipped directly to the intended recipient. Choosing a chain store may mean that the item can be picked up in the store without a shipping charge. Another possibility is the check, gift certificate, etc with an explicit gift suggestion. When we save shipping we also save the fuel costs which are out of sight these days.
I ship lots of packages across the country and have found FEDEX Ground can be half the cost of the USPS parcel post and it gets to it's destination in about 4 days - many days ahead of the USPS.
I ship via USPS Priority Mail. I've found the service to be cost effective and very efficient. The bonus? The post office will give you the boxes or envelopes for free & they will use the Priority Mail tape to wrap the boxes. Saving money is a beautiful thing.
If you are storing or sending breakable items through the mail try packing them in popcorn! It's cheap to use and it cushions as well as the styrofoam 'peanuts' you can buy for packing.
Reuse brown mailing envelopes you receive in the mail, especially padded ones. Carefully peel off the existing labels or cover them with new labels. The closure may require extra tape when you reuse, but it is certainly cheaper than buying new ones. Make sure you have obliterated or covered any UPC markings embedded on the envelope before mailing.
When mailing your packages in boxes, always use the size box to fit the size item your mailing. Putting a smaller size item in a medium size box will cost more. The Post Office will charge for the size of the box also (height & length). When mailing in a used box, you will need to cover the old bar-code on the box. I use a permanent marker to mark through the old bar-code.
If you work at any establishment that uses packing materials that are usually just tossed, you can take them, strip off the labels if there are any, and put them to good use yourself. A lot of plastic padding/bubble wrap which is perfectly clean just goes into the trash!
The time to purchase your outer shipping paper is when Christmas paper goes on sale at 75% off! Simply turn the paper over, use the undecorated side in which to wrap your boxes.
Feel free to post your ideas below.
As was mentioned earlier - use REAL popcorn - not only cheap and easy to pop in the microwave, but it is biodegradable - a HUGE plus. Otherwise, reuse papers, plastic shopping bags, etc. Really shouldn't have to buy anything - reuse, reuse, reuse!
I sell on ebay and have been using all of the above tips but I have to to add another which buyers from me have commented on. I use empty pop (mostly Diet Coke cuz it's my favorite) cans to cushion on the bottom and edges. They are recyclable, weigh nothing and do an excellent job. Try it, you'll like it! Just be sure they are COMPLETELY empty!
Editor's Note: Washing them out with a little water would be a good idea.
You know how messy peanuts can be when you open a box that has been shipped to you. I save the peanuts in a garbage bag. When I have to send something in the mail, I take a plastic bag from Walmart or where ever and put the peanuts in the bag and tie the bag closed. No mess for the person receiving their goodies. You can put more or less peanuts in the bag and arrange the bags as needed in your shipping box..
Penny from Ipava
Real popcorn is "green", but styrofoam isn't. The best part about the real stuff is when it arrives, the receiver can put it outside for the animals. They'll appreciate it!
I don't mail many pkgs. When i know i will send on i usually get 1 or 2 brown bags at the grocery store.
If one is not big enough
#1 open up the bags
#2 Overlap them about 1/2 inch
#3 Tape them together
#4 wrap box
Keep the "outside" Smooth keep all the "Flaps" inside.
I have a friend who runs a mail shipping business. I was taking pre-packed packages in to mail thru her business. She told me that it would be more cost efficient for me to bring in my items & let her pack them for mailing. She also said not to use newspaper to cushion items with, as it's heavy & can make your package weigh more. Also, she said not to use real popcorn as if the item you're sending sits for very long in any warehouse that has rodents, the popcorn scent draws the rodents to your package. My parents & I send packages back & forth all the time to each other. We use the Walmart grocery bags as cushioning.
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