The Covid-19 Quarantine has shifted how we shop. Due to stay at home orders, a significant portion of our commerce has gone postal. People are ordering much more than their standard mail-order purchases. Everything from last minute buys to groceries are being shipped locally and even internationally. But this means there’s a potential for so much trash. These shipping materials, while useful, can pile up and contribute to growing environmental issues. While society may be increasing the amount of shipping at an exceeding rate, there is room to look for creative ways to reduce, reuse, and upcycle these excess shipping materials.
Upcycling is the process of finding new, and potentially improved, uses for old waste or discarded items. It’s one step above recycling because it helps reduce waste by not just reusing products. Recycling is a great environmental effort. But even recycling can introduce harmful chemicals into the air. Upcycling instead finds new creative ways to get even more use out of items and can keep them out of landfills. Upcycling can often involve using reclaimed items to make furniture or finding ingenious new practical uses for household items.
The perils of this uptick in shipping materials is with the current Covid problem the last thing people may be thinking about is recycling. The prospect of properly disposing of plastics and large bulk items may involve locating recycling centers. But with the ample amount of down time, there are some creative solutions to the build-up of old envelopes, boxes, and even bubble wrap.
If you find yourself with an excess amount of bubble wrap or packing peanuts consider recycling them. While there may be creative alternatives you can also find a local recycling center to ensure that these are properly disposed of. EPS Packing is a great resource for recycling packing peanuts. You can also recycle bubble wrap, plastic bags and film at certain specific recycling centers. While Covid restrictions may be in play it is good to familiarize yourself with your local recycling institutions to ensure you can dispose of recyclable materials properly.
Beyond just recycling there’s ways to find creative uses to any excess shipping materials. These can be small household hacks or fun and creative projects. There’s even potential for one of a kind creations. Here are a few suggestions and solutions to your shipping materials.
Envelopes are fairly simple to reuse. If you cover up any outdated address information and barcodes you can readily reuse envelopes. Covering this information can offer the opportunity for artistic expression. You can also turn an envelope inside out to reuse them. When you think about how much wasted paper there is with all the random offers and pre-approved credit cards and general spam we receive every little bit can help.
Many use envelopes as scrap paper. But one additional use is to cut off the corners of an envelope to use as a bookmark. Simply slide the portion of the envelope you’ve cut over the page you’re reading. Not only is that a creative way to reuse envelopes but it can help you remember your place without damaging your book. These envelope corner bookmarks can also be used instead of sticky tabs.
Envelopes make great storage for small items. You can use them to store old photos, plant seeds, and tax receipts. Given how many blank envelopes you get with bills and credit card offers imagine how much you can effectively store. Shipping materials can also be a great way to upgrade your organization.
Bubble mailers can also be reused like envelopes. But there are also great creative upcycling solutions for these bubble wrap envelopes. You can use bubble mailers in purses and other items in your closet that you want to keep properly shaped. You can also use bubble mailers to store fragile items. Bubble mailers can make great storage for small glass ornaments or other items that you need to keep in your closet. They can even be a great way to store light bulbs in your to avoid potential breakage.
Boxes are in excess. Sometimes even the tiniest of purchases can come in surprisingly large boxes. On the bright side, in your spare quarantine time you may have been doing extensive organization. One of the hallmarks of Marie Kondo’s organization style is a need for small boxes to help you facilitate organizing. Boxes can help you create sections in your closet, drawers and around the house. You can use all of your shipping boxes to replace purchases you may make at The Container Store. Many of the standard size boxes can offer creative storage solutions that thankfully are better for the environment. You can also use boxes to store shoes by the door or to create a makeshift shelving section in a closet or storage shed. There’s also the most popular use for boxes…moving.
Bubble wrap may be addictive to pop. But there are alternative uses for bubble wrap. Bubble wrap is just as responsible for harming marine life as the plastic soda can holders. And it’s worth remembering that any reduction of plastic can help the environment immensely.
You can use old bubble wrap for art projects. You can use them to store glass or other breakables in your closet. But some, outside the shipping box, ideas are great winter solutions. You can use bubble wrap to insulate plants to keep them from getting too cold. You can put bubble wrap in between the soil and planter to insulate your plants from the cold. You can also cover plants with a bit of bubble wrap to keep them from frosting.
If you don’t want to stress about cleaning snow off your windows your solution just might be…bubble wrap. If you put bubble wrap underneath your windshield wipers it forms a barrier between your window. When you get up in the morning simply pull off the bubble wrap and that can spare you some headaches in clearing your windshield of snow and ice.
Shipping pallets may just seem like random pieces of wood. But with the aesthetic popularity of reclaimed wood, shipping pallets have created a whole aesthetic for furniture. You can use shipping pallets to creatively raise your furniture for extra height. You can stack the under your bed, sofa or shelving units. You can also simply add wheels to turn a shipping pallet into a coffee table, cart, or ottoman. Shipping pallets can also be used to make tables, shelves, and even be used as flooring. This article compiles photos of some very creative home design uses for pallets.
A shipping container can actually become a home. The tiny house trend has meant an actual excitement about turning one or more shipping containers into full-fledged homes. Shipping containers can become a perfect trailer-sized dwelling. Architects are turning shipping containers into office spaces, decks, pools, barns, retail spaces, small homes, and even two-floor homes. It’s not just a great way to reduce waste but a way to have a one-of-a-kind home. You can even turn a shipping container into a food truck. Simply, add wheels. It’s clear that shipping containers add a certain aesthetic value while also being a boon to environmental efforts.
These are just a few creative ways to upcycle your shipping materials to help reduce waste. The great thing about upcycling is that it doesn’t have a ton of rules and regulations. It’s all about overcoming the limits of your imagination and creativity. We set the value of items and we can all afford to stop thinking of excess items as trash and instead as raw materials for larger projects. The potential of these shipping materials is just the tip of the iceberg for a greener future.
As a part of the shipping industry, Border Buddy is committed to helping reduce the environmental toll of our business. We hope this article has provided you with thoughtful ideas for what you can do with old shipping materials. We also hope we can provide you with the most efficient way to import, export, and transport your goods. For help with navigating shipping internationally, contact Border Buddy.