how much packing material do you save?

minetApril 3, 2007

We've recently moved twice in a few months (sold our house in SoCal, moved to rental apartment in Oregon, bought a house in Oregon) and am sorting out the packing materials.

Most of the cardboard boxes I've either recycled or given to people on freecycle.org who wanted them. I've also given away a lot of the off-white clean packing paper and bubble wrap.

I'm keeping some just for our own purposes, such as sending packages. I'm thinking I'll keep a box of the used-but-clean packing paper, a box of bubble wrap, a trash bag of the foam peanuts, and just a few smaller boxes. I have a shed out back where I can store them, but I wonder if anyone else keeps this stuff or just tries to find it when they need it. My excuse for keeping it is that it's expensive to buy new and can't always find it for free when needed.

I'm the type of clutterbug who often thinks, "I must keep this because I might need it some day" and I wonder if a modest amount of packing materials fits into this category too.

And what would you consider "a modest amount?" How much do you keep on hand?

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marie26

Unless the shed is clean and airtight, I wouldn't store packing materials in there. Personally, I'd throw out the peanuts because all it takes is one time for the bag to fall over for a mess to pick up. I've done that and now I throw away all peanuts. If you order off of the internet, you'll get more boxes. If not, I'd keep the few you've decided to keep. I'd also keep the packing paper and bubble wrap.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 9:42PM
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mary_c_gw

Outdoor sheds are not a good place for packing materials. Mice, rats, silverfish and roaches will all love the cardboard and packing paper.

Many of the foam peanuts are now made of edible material, so the vermin will like them too.

I take all the styrofoam peanuts to the local PostNet store - and they are very happy to have them. Cardboard boxes and wrapping paper go to recycling.

This stuff is NOT that expensive to buy, but storing it can (not always, but sometimes) invite vermin problems. Keep a few in an indoor place, get rid of the rest.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 10:50PM
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quiltglo

It depends upon how much shipping you actually do. We don't do much. I will roll up bubble wrap and put in on a shelf in the garage. Otherwise, I have faith that the universe will provide me a box if I need one.

If it was closer to Christmas, I might actually keep enough to mail a package. But now? A bazillion boxes are going to pass through our house before then.

Gloria

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 11:01PM
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talley_sue_nyc

I don't keep big [packing stuff unless I'm bang in the middle of "mailing Christmas presents" time.

I work at an office that gets a lot of stuff, plus people order things for their own lives and have them delivered to the office, so there are always boxes I can scrounge, and often bubble wrap and peanuts.

I *do° keep a stash of small boxes for wrappinn presents in, but I have a limit (which I am presently over, actually, and need to be stern w/ myself)

But, I also don't have an attic I could put them in, or a basement. If I did, I might designate a spot on a shelf, and set a limit: All the bubble wrap that will fit in this small-medium box; three packing boxes--one smallish, one medium, one big; one medium-large box of peanuts.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:16AM
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parrot_phan

I tend to let plastic packing materials (peanuts, bubble wrap, those air pillows) collect until my annual yard sale. Then it's time for the yearly purge. I fill up dry-cleaner bags taped at the hanger end & twist tied shut at the other end. I sell 'em for 50 cents to a dollar a bag -- they're usually among the first items to go.

If ever they don't sell, I'll Freecycle them. (Selling this stuff for cheap at a yard sale is easier for me -- no emails to respond to and no-shows aren't an issue.)

Packing paper -- the newsprint without any printing on it -- gets folded up and taken to a thrift store along with a bunch of bags for them to reuse. They use this paper to wrap glassware.

Gloria said:
I have faith that the universe will provide me a box if I need one.

Wow, did that resonate with me. You are so right -- and I want to get to that point myself.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 3:12PM
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Plow_In

I keep one medium size box with only bubble wrap in it. All peanuts go to the Mail store. I also save one small box in case I have to mail something to DD. All other cardboard boxes go to recycle. Liquor stores are happy to give you their empty boxes.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 6:17PM
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jannie

I don't keep boxes anymore. I had a few in my attic but the roof leaked. I cursed them, dragged them downstairs and straight to the garbage can. I can buy all I want at my local office supply store. I had a cardboard box full of packing peanuts that blew around in my front yard. I raked up all I could but I'm still finding them stuck in bushes,etc., and it's been over a year. I don't need to save this struff! Too many possible disasters await!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 8:16PM
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minet

Hmm, I hadn't thought of bugs and vermin getting into them in the shed. But that's a definite possibility. Maybe just one large clear plastic box of whatever I can fit into it (paper, bubble wrap, peanuts) and a couple of small-medium boxes in my garage. I have my wrapping paper in a long plastic box on a high shelf and the packing materials box could go up there too.

I have to keep reminding myself that I can get this kind of stuff again, if I need to. I don't need to keep it at my house. I can let other people who need it now, have it. And I'll be able to find some later if I need it.

I have 3 categories that describe the bulk of my clutter:
*** sentimental from relatives (vases, linens, photos, handmade dolls, etc.)
*** useful things I might need later (packing materials, office supplies, craft supplies)
*** and paperwork (bank statements, credit card statements, old insurance papers, etc.)

Of those 3, the sentimental stuff is hardest for me, because that's what can't be replaced. The packing stuff, yeah, I can let go of that. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 10:40PM
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liz_h

minet - I have plenty of stuff in the sentimental category, but I try to limit it. If I have several things from one person, it's a lot easier to let some of it go.

This thread reminds me of a story my recently divorced cousin told. His ex had an attic full of every box that ever entered the house. He said that when she moved out, the first thing he did was get rid of all those D@M BOXES. Then a few months later he wanted to mail something and went up in the attic to get a box...

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 7:26PM
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spiritual_gardner

None.

SG

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 8:34AM
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kim0201

I'm SO bad about this. I collect shipping boxes & packing materials. I break down the boxes into flat pieces so they don't take up as much room but they are still too much. Then when I sent something I turn them inside out so they look neat for shipping. I've been thinking all along "oh these would be great for ebay". Well most of my ebay things are gone now & it's time to do the same w/ the boxes. Thanks for the discussion; it's motivated me to purge.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 4:19PM
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adellabedella_usa

I say give it away or throw it out. I've had too many bad things happen to stuff in storage.

If you have a lot of packing paper in good condition, see if you can find a school or daycare to take it. My ds's school is always asking for paper. I use it to put under the kids for when they are painting or drawing.

I gave several of the boxes to a neighbor who moved a couple of weeks after we moved in. We made a huge box fort for the kids with about 20 of the boxes. That was fun for a while. I need to find a recycle place and get rid of some more.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 5:21PM
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minet

Thank you for helping me get a handle on this. I decided to buy a large clear plastic box with a snap on lid from Target for about $10 and keep as much packing material as would fit into that box. I put in some paper, bubble wrap and some sheets of foam wrap.

Everything else (including all peanuts) I listed on freecycle and then took to someone who is moving.

The box fits up on a high shelf in the garage, next to the long box of wrapping paper. Out of the way but easy to get to, and safe from the critters in the shed.

If I ever need more I'll ask for it on freecycle!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 2:33AM
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tre3

Congrats Minet for coming up with a great solution that works for you! Setting a limit based on the size of your bin makes it easy to set a boundary. This concept can be adapted to so many other categories of stuff!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 9:17AM
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socks

Yes, that's a good idea Minet. This packing stuff really costs if you have to buy it, so keeping a set amount in a bin is a good idea. I save just about everything I get and seem to use it up. I take the peanuts to our local UPS store, and they are glad to have them.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 8:55PM
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