How to Reuse Your Moving Materials

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American generates 1,600 pounds of trash per year. That number really hits home when you’re unpacking after moving day. Before you dump that huge pile of leftover bubble wrap, newspaper and cardboard boxes into a landfill, take a moment to think about where it could be reused around the house.

The Great Outdoors:
Whether you’re in the garden or on the hiking trail, packing materials have many outdoor uses.

Kindling – Next time you start a campfire or light up the charcoal grill, use crumpled newspaper as kindling to get the flames going.

Wrap Garden Pots – Thick layers of cardboard, newspaper or bubble wrap make great insulation for garden pots that will be left outdoors over the winter. Wrapping the pots in insulation can keep them from freezing and killing any perennials that you’ve left in the pots.

Composting – If you’re composting lots of “green” material such as food scraps, you may have too much nitrogen in the mix. Add shredded newspaper to the pile to increase the amount of carbon.

Garden Mulch – Instead of paying for pricey landscaping fabric, use thick stacks of newspaper or large sheets of cardboard to suppress weeds. (As with landscaping fabric, it may be necessary to weigh down your mulch with rocks if you are in a windy area.)

Bleacher Seats – Next time you go to a sports game, take along a small roll of bubble wrap to pad the bleachers.

Camping – Next time you go backpacking, take along a roll of bubble wrap and use it as padding under your sleeping bag. The bubble wrap will act as a cushion, and it will also insulate your body from the chilly ground.

Around the House:
Packing material has many uses at home.

Organization – One good use for cardboard boxes is to organize any stuff that you haven’t found a place for in your new home. Christmas lights, tax documents and even the rest of your unused packing materials can all be kept in cardboard boxes.

Mailing – Use your bubble wrap to make padded envelopes. Simply cut two pieces of wrap to fit within your envelope and glue them in place.

Window Insulation – Tape large pieces of bubble wrap to your windowpanes to keep out the winter chill. Some people even go the extra mile and frame the bubble wrap in the same way that a window screen is framed. This allows you to remove or replace the insulation without leaving tape on the glass.

In the Fridge – Use bubble wrap in the refrigerator to line your produce drawers. This will keep delicate fruits such as pears from getting bruised.

Protect Garage Floor – Does your car leak oil? Protect your garage floor or driveway from stains by laying down newspaper or cardboard.

Low-Budget Paper Towel – Packing paper makes a great low-budget paper towel. Use it for cleaning windows or sopping up spills (unless you have carpets where the print might leave a stain). And we’ve all seen old-fashioned cooks use clean sheets of newspaper to drain the grease off of fried foods.

Odor Remover (and Shape Keeper) in Shoes – Are your shoes a little bit smelly? Line them with crumpled newspaper in the evening, and then remove it in the morning. The paper will absorb the odors. For long-term storage of shoes or purses, leave the paper in so that the item holds its shape.

Garbage Can Liner – Place a few folded sheets of newspaper in your kitchen trashcan to absorb leaks.

Quick Trash Can – Need a trashcan in your work shop or crafts room? A medium-sized cardboard box works fine as long as you don’t put liquid trash in it. You can even make it more attractive by wrapping it in attractive paper.

Kids and Pets:
If you have children or pets in your home, you’re sure to find a few uses for packing materials.

Toys for Children – Kids love cardboard boxes. The largest ones can be made into a fort, the medium-sized ones make great “boats” for “rowing” around on the floor, and the smallest ones are excellent helmets.

Toys for Pets – Cats and other curious animals also love cardboard boxes. For hours of feline fun, tape together several boxes and cut holes to make tunnels.

Birthday Presents – Need to wrap a child’s birthday present? Use the Sunday comics pages from your newspaper as a fun and funky gift wrap.

Padding Corners – Got a spot where your toddler keeps bumping his (or her) head? Tape a little bit of bubble wrap on for padding.

Changing Tables – Bubble wrap also makes a good lining for a baby’s changing table. It’s soft, it makes a great insulation against the cold table, and it’s disposable. Stash some in the diaper bag and use it on changing tables in public restrooms.

If you’re a frugal housekeeper, you’re bound to find many more uses for leftover packing material; your only limit is your imagination. Instead of throwing away your bubble wrap, newspaper or cardboard boxes, store them away neatly for future use. Your wallet and your local landfill will thank you.