Simple Living

Over 20 Ways to Reuse Shipping and Packing Materials

One thing was clear as I came through this holiday season: there is so. much. packaging! Bags and boxes and stuffing and wrapping paper and bows and the list goes on! As much as we try to eliminate these things, sometimes packaging is inevitable, so I’ve come up with some ways to reuse packing materials and hopefully keep items out of the landfill a little bit longer. 

Packing materials ready to be reused

Packing Material Pile Up

All of this pile up of packaging and wrapping has inspired our Climate Change Collective conversation this month. Jamie at JamieAdStories is sharing his thoughts on the immense amount of wrapping that is used in the UK–it adds up to 227,000 miles each year!

Check out his great post here: Wrapping Up Doesn’t Have to be a Waste.

If landfill sites are being filled with gift wrapping every Christmas, then we really need to challenge this. In the spirit of Christmas, should we not be giving back to the planet instead of polluting it with rubbish? … Let’s make an effort to move away from unnecessary packaging and towards a more sustainable future full of recyclable Christmas wrapping and emptier dustbins.


I love Jamie’s post because wrapping paper and all the trimming with it can be so wasteful. That’s why we’ve written about ways to reduce your gift wrapping waste in this post on Plastic Free Wrapping Ideas. Here you can find loads of ideas on how to wrap gifts waste free!

stack of empty cardboard boxes prepared for relocation from home
Photo by SHVETS production on

How to Reuse Packing Material

Looking at the waste that comes before the wrapping, though, we have to figure out what to do with all of that packaging. 

Here are some ways to reuse packaging and keep it out of the landfill: 

Ideas for Reusing Boxes

Since everything seems to come in boxes, let’s start with this super useful and easily reusable item.

Here are 9 ways to reuse boxes:

  1. Make plant pots, like these in this Instagram post.
  2. Ship your own items that you have to mail or find a group like Ship Again Vancouver where you can give boxes to others who need them.
  3. Wrap up presents.
  4. Get creative with arts and crafts projects–like this homemade pirate ship made by my friend’s kids!
Reuse boxes by making crafts like a pirate ship
  1. Pack for moving house. (Don’t need to move yourself? Offer them up in your Buy Nothing Group as someone else might need them!)
  2. Use them for storing items.
  3. Build a cat castle. For inspiration, check out these Pinterest posts.
  4. Use cardboard to remove grass and start your garden bed using the sheet mulching method.
  5. Use cardboard for weed control in your garden.
Mailer bags and envelopes

Ideas for Reusing Bubble Mailers or other Mailer Envelopes and Bags

I love that many mailer envelopes are made with paper and are recyclable now. This is so much better than throwaway plastic ones! This doesn’t mean that the recyclable ones have to go straight to the bin though. All types of bubble mailers and mailer envelopes are reusable.

Here are 5 ideas on how to reuse your bubble mailers and envelopes:

  1. Ship your own items that you have to mail.
  2. Use bubble mailer envelopes to pad mailed packages with fragile items.
  3. Protect fragile items you are packing up for moving in bubble mailers.
  4. Use mailer bags as garbage bags.
  5. Use mailer bags for packing shoes in your suitcase for trips to keep other items from getting dirty.

Ideas for Reusing Packing Paper

I LOVE packing paper. If there is going to be a material protecting whatever I ordered, I really prefer to get this versatile material because it can be reused so easily.

Here are 4 ways to give your packing paper a second life:

  1. Wrapping paper for gifts. You can keep it plain or stamp, draw, or paint it to make your own unique wrapping paper.
  2. Protect items as you pack to move.
  3. Reuse it for protecting your own shipments.
  4. Cut it up and create note paper.
  5. Cut it up and use for arts and crafts.
Shipping materials ready to be reused

Ideas for Reusing Packing Material (foam pieces, large bubble packs)

Packing material involves a lot of miscellaneous items too. While they may seem useless, here are a few ideas to give those random pieces a new use:

  1. Use various types of packing material for padding in your own shipments.
  2. Use foam pieces, bubble wrap, or even bubble mailers to protect items as you pack them up to move house.
  3. Crafts! Packing peanuts are fun to paint and can be added to creations for a 3D effect.
Packing materials ready to be reused

Making Efforts to Reduce our Waste

While we can try to buy package free as much as possible, there will inevitably be packaging and shipping materials that show up in our lives. Every time we make an effort to reuse these items and prevent them from heading to the landfill or even the recycle bin, we are creating a more circular economy. This is a gift to our planet and makes a difference every time!

How do you reuse packaging and shipping materials?

Climate Change Collective
Photo Credit: Michelle at Boomer Eco Crusader

The Climate Change Collective

This post is a part of our Climate Change Collective conversations.

The Climate Change Collective was born out of an exchange that took place between Michelle and Jamie in the comments section of a Jamie Ad Stories blog post. Jamie and Michelle both care deeply about the impact of human activity on our planet and wanted to find a way to keep the climate change message top of mind for everyone. A tweet was sent out, bloggers responded, and we’ve all now teamed up to create the Climate Change Collective!

The idea is simple. The members of the collective will take turns writing a monthly blog post sharing their concerns and unique perspective about climate change. After the post is published, the rest of the group will keep the conversation going by sharing a link to the post on their blogs along with their thoughts and ideas. If you’re a like-minded blogger and would like to join our collective, please get in touch. The more the merrier!

Pela phone case image. Compostable phone cases. Made of plants.

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What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!