As online shopping has grown, so has the amount of packaging material used to ship consumer goods and other products. Estimates show roughly 2.14 billion online shoppers rely on digital shopping and receive orders shipped in different types of packaging materials. In recent years, the recycling rate of generated packaging and other shipping materials has reached 53.9% — but there are alternative ways to reuse packaging material you receive from an online order.
Let’s break down how to reuse packaging materials to reduce waste with these practical, fun and creative ways to repurpose extra packaging material.
1. Save the Box for Multiple Uses
Without a doubt, one of the most common types of packaging materials is the cardboard box. Used for its durability, the cardboard box is the perfect option for shipping almost anything. After an order is received, there is a variety of alternative uses for this packaging material, such as:
- Gift giving: Perhaps the most common time to reuse a cardboard box is for gift giving. Whether it’s the holiday season or a loved one’s birthday, having extra boxes to use for gifts is a great way to reuse packaging materials. By repurposing extra boxes for gifts, you save money and avoid having to buy new ones. Using your old boxes from online orders is also environmentally friendly, as it reduces waste.
- Moving and storage: When it comes to moving and storing items, reusing boxes is a lifesaver. Gone are the days when you needed to purchase moving boxes. Instead, utilize your boxes from previous online orders. The same goes for putting items in storage. With extra cardboard boxes lying around, why not use them?
- Organization: In addition to storage purposes, boxes can also be used to organize almost any item. Smaller boxes are an effective way to organize smaller items, such as pens, hair ties, paper clips or coins.
- Unique DIY decor: If you have an artistic touch, turn extra boxes into decorative items, like personalized photo frames or indoor pet playgrounds.
2. Reuse Jars
Another type of packaging material often used to ship online orders is glass jars. Due to their ability to preserve items for long periods, glass jars provide an extra layer of protection for most food and beverage products shipped online. Although glass is recyclable, there are several ways you can also reuse this packaging material.
Depending on the size of your glass jars, you can use them for a variety of bulk storage purposes. If you like to collect coins, you can use your extra jars as change collectors. Glass jars are perfect for storing different types of food or beverages. Use them to freeze soups, broths and other liquid-based foods. Other examples of food products to keep in glass jars include spices, nuts or salsa.
There are also fun and creative ways to reuse your glass jars from online orders. If you enjoy DIY projects and crafts, use leftover jars to create homemade candles. Need a new centerpiece for your dining room or kitchen table? Paint the glass jars with your favorite color and fill them with decorations for the perfect tabletop decor.
You can even make your own indoor herb garden using larger glass jars. All you need is soil, rocks and seeds to grow herbs right in your kitchen. Herbs are typically smaller with limited root systems, making them the perfect option for glass jars.
3. Reuse Styrofoam in a Planter
Plastic foam like Styrofoam is also a common packaging material for shipping packaging. Packing peanuts are the most prevalent form of foam packaging due to their ability to fill up space and provide an extra layer of cushion for fragile items.
Most of the time, we throw packing peanuts away once we’ve opened the box and received our order — instead, consider reusing shipping packaging as a pot filler for plants. Add the packing peanuts to the bottom of the pot and then fill it with soil. Packing peanuts as a plant filler won’t harm the plant, and the pot won’t be as heavy. Before using packing peanuts, make sure that they are made from plastic foam, like Styrofoam, as other materials may dissolve when adding water.
4. Use Trays and Boards for Art Projects
Within the consumer goods industry, several products are shipped using trays and boards to hold everything from canned goods to beverages or other food and drink products. This packaging material can also be used for several different art projects.
The design of tray packaging makes it the perfect solution for mixing different paint colors. Let the paint dry and continue to reuse the tray over and over again for future art projects.
Use extra packaging boards as a canvas to paint on. Using boards when doing art projects — especially with children — is a safe, eco-conscious way to reuse old packaging material. If you have kids, you know how messy they can be. With boards, you don’t have to worry about them making a mess or ruining art supplies.
5. Use Bubble Wrap as an Insulator
Due to its high level of protection, bubble wrap is one of the most effective packaging materials for shipping fragile products. It also provides an extra layer of insulation for products that need to be kept at a certain temperature. For this reason, there are a few ways that you can repurpose your bubble wrap as an insulation solution.
A clever way to reuse bubble wrap packaging material is to insulate your windows during the winter months. Here is a guideline for installing bubble wrap as an insulator for your windows:
- Measure the size of the bubble wrap needed to cover the window and carefully cut the appropriate size with scissors.
- Use a spray bottle to spray water on the window where you are installing the bubble wrap.
- While the window is wet, place the bubble wrap on and press it into place.
- Once it is time to remove it, pull it off and reuse it for another project or save it for next year.
You can also use bubble wrap to insulate the inside of your grocery bags. This is an effective way to ensure your groceries stay cool and at the right temperature before you get home from the store. Simply cut the bubble wrap to the appropriate size and line the inside of your grocery bag.
Benefits of Switching to FIP
Switching to Great Northern Fiber Interior Packaging™ comes with several benefits, like no longer needing to upcycle your packaging materials. Our packaging is 100% biodegradable and made from paper products, making it an eco-friendly solution to ship products and goods.
For materials that aren’t as easy to dispose of, it’s important to find alternative uses. Contact us at Fiber Interior Packaging to learn more about our recyclable packaging options.