Save Money on Packing Materials

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

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.



Every day I feed sheets of paper into my shredder to protect my identity. Why not make this device work for me in two ways? I use it to shred documents, and then I turn those documents into newly made packing materials. I'm careful to dump the shredder after shredding credit cards so that those hard plastic shreds don't get mixed up in my packing materials. It's free and it cushions my parcels on their airborne journeys.

Plastic Bags

If you're shipping something that isn't necessarily fragile but could still use some cushion, try using plastic grocery bags to surround it. I usually save these and take them to the recycling collection or donate them to our local pool (we keep them on hand in the locker rooms for the transport of wet suits.) However, if I need some quick cushioning I found that these bags work well, and there's always an abundance of them on hand.


Reuse What You Have

I have as many packages coming into my house as I have going out. When a new package arrives, I carefully separate the packing materials from the items and then add them to my supply closet. Packing peanuts are stored in a drawstring kitchen trash bag while thick papers that come wrapped around items are folded and stored as well. Bubble wrap can be folded, and those inflated pillows are also kept in a trash bag. The entire supply is then stored in a large open box in my attic until I need to ship an item. I rarely have to buy cushioning supplies, and my packages leave in the same materials others arrived.

Shipping Options

Shipping is tricky in that you want to keep prices low but get the best value. I found that Priority Mail is the best method for me since it provides free boxes. There is no hassle in searching for the right sized box or even buying a box at the office supply store. Instead, I ship everything through this service. The customer receives it quicker, and the boxes are more sturdy than those I usually find in my basement.


By visiting you can order a supply of boxes and other supplies FREE just for using this shipping service. (It is against USPS policies to use these supplies to ship other methods than Priority Mail.)

Often the difference between Priority and Parcel Post is mere pennies to the shipper who usually appreciates the faster service of Priority Mail.

Colorful Shredded Paper

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July 20, 20080 found this helpful

As an eBay seller, I've been doing all of the above for years. I also used the same packaging techniques for our recent move halfway across the country. :-)

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July 20, 20080 found this helpful

Can you still buy those shredders that cut paper into long thin strips? My cross-cut shredder makes more of a confetti, which makes a huge mess if you try to use it for anything.

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July 22, 20080 found this helpful

I was happy to see my Dr. Brandt skincare products packed with crimped paper instead of styrofoam peanuts. Kudos to him!

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September 20, 20080 found this helpful

Dumpster diving can be a great source for packaging materials. I live in an apartment and our dumpster often provides me with loads of boxes.


People usually throw out the stuffing too, so I often see boxes still full of peanuts, wrapping papers, and styrofoam.

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