Saving Money on Packing Materials

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Safely packing the items you want to send or move, doesn't have to cost you anything. This page is about saving money on packing materials.


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Hubby thought I was nuts when I scavenged bubble wrap packing material to give to a buddy who has an eBay store. But he and his partner has just spent $50 on a roll of it at an office store, and that cuts into their profits. So since my friend is selling a few things of mine too, I think it's only fair that I pick up whatever recycled packing materials and boxes I can find. (CLEAN of course).

By pam munro from Los Angeles, CA

Comment Was this helpful? 10

The holidays are upon us, and you will no doubt want to send things to loved ones through the mail. Some of the best boxes to ship in are illegal to use: bleach, alcohol, paint, etc.


So, here is how to use them if you need them.

Comment Was this helpful? 8

When I decided to start doing some internet business, I was appalled at the cost of shipping materials and packaging. The post office offers "free" boxes if you use the priority or flat rate choices, but I have found that unless I am shipping small, heavy objects, these options are way too costly. Those "free" boxes come with a price.

One day I was shopping my favorite Dollar Store and they were unpacking newly arrived goods. The boxes were small, manageable, and were filled with peanuts and bubble wrap. I asked for a couple and was told I could have them all! I helped myself to as many as I could carry and asked when the shipments came in. The cleck kindly gave me a rough schedule and said I could come as often as I liked to get boxes and packing filler.


Now they even save me "special" sizes if I tell them what I need. The store is happy to have me take them as it cuts down on their disposal costs and I get all the FREE packaging I can use.

I have expanded my packaging re-cycling stops to include a dress shop where I get plastic hangers and garment covers for free, and a vegetable market where I collect fruit boxes for storage of my merchandise. These boxes come with corrugated trays that keep the fruit from crushing and do the same for my items. No need to wrap! I just put items in a box, layer it with a tray and store until I need the something. And all at my favorite price - FREE!

By PlumCottage from in a cottage at the Shore

Comment Was this helpful? 10

March 30, 2007

Tips and ideas for saving money on shipping and packing material.

Save Your 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

Plastic Bags

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.

By Renee

Ask At Stores

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!

By Kayla

Trade With Friends

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.

By Anne

Use Shopping Bags

Reusing the plastic bags from Walmart and other stores work great for packing. I never run out of plastic bags.

By Cindy in AL

Newspaper And Junk Mail

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.

By Anna

Shredded Paper

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.

By Susan K. Beal

Egg Cartons

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.

By Harlean

Packing Peanuts

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!).

By Ronsan

Save on The Shipping

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.

By Melissa

Priority Mail

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.

By Bridget

Using Popcorn

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.

By Robin

Reusing Brown Mailing Envelopes

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.

By Ronsan

Use The Right Sized Box

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.

By patricia sudduth

Take Used Packing Material From Work

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!

By pam munro

Use The Back Side Of Wrapping Paper

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.

By Cheryl

Feel free to post your ideas below.

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September 24, 2010

I mail often and want to share some of the ways I have been saving on mailing dollars. I save all the packing materials that come from other mailings and reuse them.

Comment Was this helpful? 5

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh
July 20, 2008

As I packed my latest my latest USPS shipment, it occurred to me how much money I spend on packing materials. They eat into my sales profit, and they're creating landfill chaos. Both my frugal and my environmental consciences spoke up and motivated me to create some alternative packing materials.

Colorful Shredded Paper

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? Yes

I am a frequent online shopper, especially when there are free shipping deals. By shopping online, I save money, time and gas, plus I receive free shipping boxes and packaging supplies that I will reuse.

A pile of different sizes of cardboard boxes.

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March 24, 2014

You know how some retailers use little plastic bags of air to cushion and protect the product during shipping? You can take an empty zip bag and fill that with air to do the same thing. I've used it lots of times when packing fragile items for moving.

Zip Bags as Air Packets

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? 2

March 7, 2005

I need a fairly good supply of sturdy cardboard boxes for mailing in my business, but I was often inundated with the wrong sizes plus too many of them until I began saving boxes by nesting them.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

In the produce section, there are the large apple boxes that come with recycled layers of pocketed cardboard (like eggs) that protect the produce during shipping. They are kind of lavender in color.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
Better Living Green Living Recycling OtherJune 17, 2012
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