Most of us have ordered something online and been surprised at the amount of packaging that comes along with it. Often times, it begs the question “Are we paying more for the product or the packaging?” (For those of you who haven’t received something with an extraneous amount of packaging—just trust us; it’s ridiculous.) Jessica Taylor-Cassan posted in a 2007 article that about 50% of landfill waste comes from packaging. It scares us to think what that statistic is now. And while we can’t answer the question of what we’re paying more for, there is one we can. What can we do with all of this packaging material?
Ways to Recycle Packaging Materials:
Most curbside recycling accepts cardboard, but if you’ve been shipped something huge, this may not be an option for you. Consider using it as a protective mat for your kids while they are doing art projects. Or donate it to a local school’s art department. We’ve also found that larger cardboard boxes are a favorite play/ sleeping grounds for cats. So if you’re an animal lover, you could convert a corner for this box to be used by the furry members of your family.
Recycling Styrofoam Peanuts
Uggghh. Just the name alone forces us to shudder. For the most part, Styrofoam packing peanuts are NOT able to be recycled—rather, re-used. Because of the necessity and the environmental concern, there are biodegradable packing peanuts now being made, and will dissolve in water. For those that aren’t—here are a few ideas. Use them to fill and line your favorite planters or stuff and fill pet pillows. Donate them to your local shipping stores to be re-used. Or very simply, reuse them yourself the next time you need to ship something out!
Recycling Bubble Wrap
This one is simple if you have children. Unpackage the item, pop a “test” bubble, and then hand over to your younger kids. I am an older kid myself, and it seems like not long ago that I was still entertained by popping those bubbles. The end result can be recycled, so just include that in your curbside pickup. However, if a headache is pressing and you don’t want to hear a constant “Pop! Pop! Pop!” save them and use them as a great insulator in coolers before your next family picnic. Or again, very simply, use them again yourself when shipping your next item!
Recycling Foam (Polystyrene) Packaging
This you would most commonly see if you were to receive electronics or anything else that needs a molded packaging to ship. While not many places offer recycling of this type, it is available in more and more places each year. To find out more about this, visit http://www.recyclepefoam.com/ If this doesn’t help you, you can always break it down and use it as you would packing peanuts in planters or use it as the base to sculpt around in art projects.
Recycling Wooden Pallets
Wooden pallets can be dropped off at your local Home Depot or Lowes for re-use. Fall is a less than a breath away now it seems; so if you’ll be looking for campfire wood, these pallets can also make for a great fire. Just be sure to remove all the nails before you get started. Also, there are lots of great ideas for upcycling like these five DIY Pallet Projects! Simply brilliant and unique ideas!
Do you have any tips to share? What are your favorite ways to recycle packaging materials?