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Creative Reuses of Packing Materials

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It's easy to substitute knives for scissors when opening a box. If the zipper breaks on your pants, you can mend it with a safety pin.

What would you do, however, if someone left a box of packing peanuts on your doorstep?

Some creative ideas come to mind a bit more naturally than others, but there are interesting uses for your packing materials too! Corrugated cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and plastic bags are among the packing materials that can be creatively reused after your move.

Cardboard boxes

Since boxes have various shapes and sizes, they can hold items from your clothes to your coffee maker. Your post-move boxes can still be useful in the following ways:

  • Organized storage. Check inside your home for items that can be consolidated for cardboard box storage. You may not want to throw away magazines and textbooks, but need the space. Boxes will give you the opportunity to label and neatly organize your stored items for future use.
  • Chemical waste receptacles. Small or medium moving boxes can be reused as trash cans. Oil and paint cans are known for leaving marks behind on the garage floor. A cardboard box will add a layer of absorption and help you organize your chemical cans.
  • Home composting. Corrugated cardboard is a biodegradable waste product, so you can turn your cardboard into compost for use in your lawn and garden soil.
  • Mailing packages. Used cardboard boxes are great for sending packages, especially during the holidays. Whether you are sending toys to a niece or a care package to your son at college, cardboard boxes make sturdy and affordable shipment containers.
Fact: In 2008, the American Research Group reported that on average, Americans planned to cut Christmas spending by 50% from 2007 spending costs.
Year Average Spending Percent Change
2008 $431 - 50%
2007 $859 - 5%
2006 $907 - 4%
2005 $942 - 6%
  • Arts & Crafts. Children often say and do the darndest things. Making forts, castles, or puzzles, will allow children to express their creativity through cardboard. Small cardboard boxes can also be made into elegantly designed gift boxes.
  • Profit. Another great way to reuse your packing boxes is to sell them online,at moving centers, or on college campuses near where you live.

Packing peanuts

Packing peanuts seem to flow endlessly from all corners of a moving box but for an invaluable purpose. Protecting your fragile belongings is important, and even packing peanuts have a few more uses.

  • Cushions. You can insert peanuts into a zipped cover as a soft cushion for you or your pets.
  • A drainage system. Peanuts can be placed in the base of a flower plot as a drainage system for plants.
  • Interior design. If you have plans to paint a room, packing peanuts can be dipped in paint, and then applied to walls to create designs.
  • Decoration. As a fun project, spray peanuts with glue and cover them with glitter. You can make a garland to wrap around Christmas trees, holiday wreaths, candles, or use as hanging decorations.

Bubble wrap

There is just something about bubble wrap. Seeing it may conjure nostalgic memories of when you last popped those plastic bubbles. Here are some ways you can appreciate bubble wrap or rekindle your enjoyment of this fun packing material!

  • Hydration. Bubble wrap is generally pliable and water-proof, so it can be used to wrap wet plant roots or stems after a move.
  • Shipping Food. Shipping your fruits,baked goods,and dried meats in bubble wrap will provide excellent protection.
  • Play. Popping bubble wrap is so much fun that a Japanese company created an everlasting bubble wrap toy! There is an easier way to create this toy at home. Cut your bubble wrap into tiny squares, and then insert a rubber band through a hole in the corner.
  • Lining. Popped bubble wrap tends to be easy to cut, which makes it a great material for lining under carpets and doormats. It can even be placed under moveable plastics, like toys or chairs for added sturdiness.

Plastic bags

Reusing plastic bags can be an extremely eco-friendly endeavor. You can reuse plastic bags in the following ways:

  • Shopping. Reusing plastic bags for any type of shopping will reduce waste in your home and in landfills.
  • Gift bags. Plastic bags come in various colors and sizes, so they can make great bags to hold presents.
  • Lunch boxes. Since many plastic bags have handles, they can easily hold and transport any meal.

When you've just unpacked all of your belongings, you may feel overwhelmed by the boxes, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and plastic bags. Not only does reusing your packing materials save you energy and money, but it will also help you de-clutter your new home. Discovering creative ways to reinvent your packing items will direct any stressful moving energy in a positive direction.

Solely serving the pertinent purpose of transporting prized possessions during a move, creative uses for packing materials are often overlooked. There is no better time than during a bleak economy to come up with ways to make efficient art out of materials you purchased to pick up and move to a new province.

The following guide gives several ideas on how to reuse boxes and packing peanuts so you and your family can have a cost-free craft session after the move, maybe even making a little something to hang on the new refrigerator.

Boxes, boxes, boxes. After a move, they are strewn all about half-empty in your new house. But don't be so quick to throw them out since there are many crafty and creative ways to use the containers by children and adults alike.

Cardboard castle - The basic cardboard box can turn into a magical 3-foot outside or inside fort that has windows and doors children can play in and crawl through. There is no better way to stretch your child's imagination than by having them picture an elaborate setting while they craft a castle out of cardboard.
Robot costume - Cut out some holes big enough for your head and arms in a large box and before you know it you have a robot costume for your child to wear around the house on a rainy day.
Gift box - Putting a gift in a personalized and decorative box is a great way to say you really care. Rather than purchase wrapping paper or spend money on a gift bag, make a gift box! By using some old pictures, colored ribbon and markers, you can personalize a package for family and friends that they can use for a long time.
Set of shelves - One of the craftiest reuses for a box is turning some cardboard containers into a set of shelves by stacking them on their sides a few rows high. Before building the set of shelves, take some time to bedeck the outside of the boxes. Go for an eclectic look by decorating each box differently, or go with a more uniform feel and paint all the boxes the same color.
Packing peanuts
The little white nuts of foam can be used in fun ways if you just use your mind's eye. So next time you get a box full of the foam, don't be so quick to throw away the peanuts.

Necklace - Brush a slew of peanuts with colored tempura paint and let dry. Then measure a piece of yarn around your neck, leaving a little wiggle room to thread the material through a one-inch sewing needle to create a soft, puffy choker.
Sculpture - Pretend you are Picasso and feed your inner artist by creating a packing peanut sculpture. A little Elmer glue and a lot of imagination will surprise you as you build who knows what out of the little white foam. After, display your art on a coffee table for a time.
Bean bag chair - If you are not wearing them around your neck, use packing peanuts for a little comfort and pleasure by filling a laundry bag with the Styrofoam pieces and making a bean bag chair. After you stuff the material with the peanuts, tighten the drawstring for your very own fun floor seat. To personalize your new piece of furniture, simply apply some fabric paint on the material and write your favorite quote or draw a simple picture.

Patrick Hanan  Posted by Patrick Hanan on August 27, 2009

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