Packing peanuts are the oil sludge of packing materials. If you have some lying around, reusing packing peanuts is always preferable to throwing them out, but if you've banished eco-unfriendly packing materials, there are plenty of alternatives that either make use of waste or provide a usable material for the recipient.
10 Alternative Packing Materials
1. Newspaper: Balled up, torn into strips or just used to wrap items, your daily newspaper can be put to goo use as packing material (before it's ultimately recycled).
2. Magazines: Pages from magazines are great for separating breakables, and you can crunch them up just like you would a newspaper.
3. Old Clothes: Cut up threadbare or ripped shirts, jeans and other clothing and pack around any objects as a space filler, or use larger pieces to protect breakables.
4. Junk Mail: In famous for producing unnecessary waste, junk mail can be crumpled up to fill space in packages.
5. Office Paper Waste: Shredded paper waste from your office is a great filler for many packages. (Tip: Even though it's shredded, you probably shouldn't use any paper that was once printed with confidential information.)
6. Re-sealable Sandwich Bags: Wash and reuse re-sealable bags filled with air to provide cushioning in packages that aren't quite full.
7. Wrapping Paper: Some people reuse wrapping paper from larger gifts, but it never looks quite as fresh the second time around. Instead, save wrapping paper to fill out future gifts that you need to send by post.
8. Yarn: Forget useless packaging materials--fill out packages destined for knitters and crafters with a skien or two of yarn. 9. Plastic Bags and Packaging: Flexible plastic packaging and plastic bags are a great space-filler and they cushion breakables well. 10. Popcorn: It sounds crazy, but if you're sending a package to a friend or family member, you can pad any extra space with small bags of freshly popped popcorn. It's an extra treat, and it will provide great cushioning for many items.
Originally Published: Jan 11, 2012