Clever Alternatives to Expensive Packaging Materials

Fun, random fact of the day: It’s probably common knowledge by now that the Disney story of Cinderella is not the original one.  The one by the Brothers Grimm is perhaps the most familiar to us, and it is chock full of disturbing elements.  For example, I was horrified to find out that the father doesn’t actually die, but most versions just kill him off because it’s better than his lack of character in the way his daughter is treated.  And of course there’s the bit about the stepsisters cutting off parts of their feet to fit into the slipper…

Anyway, it’s time to talk about packaging materials.  Perhaps packaging materials are not nearly as interesting as grim fairytales (yes, that pun was intended), but they are a pretty constant part of our lives, and so it would behoove us to talk about some clever alternatives to the expensive store bought stuff.


I did a quick walk through of my house, just wondering how many things I could point that would be useful as packaging materials, and I was surprised at how many things seemed to fit the description.  I thought a couple things, sure, but I wound up being able to put together a short list, and here are some of my findings:

  • Shredded paper- depending on who you are sending something to, your shredded documents are a great alternative to other more expensive, less environmentally friendly options.
  • Old boxes- just because your coffee maker box says Mr. Coffee doesn’t mean you can’t cover it in plain paper and use it instead of spending a few dollars on a new one, on top of the shipping costs.
  • Grocery bags- those plastic grocery bags really start to accumulate. I know in my house we use them for dirty diapers, cat litter, sending stuff home with people, an overnight bag, lunch box…  You name it.    They are also really useful as stuffing for packages.  And they have a dual function: wrap up books or clothes or other vulnerable items that might became ruined if the box gets wet or broken into by vermin.
  • Rubberbands- yes, even rubberbands can serve a big purpose! Consider using them to keep loose items taunt and you will wind up saving a lot of space, and hopefully have cheaper shipping costs as a result.
  • Old socks- make sure you wash them first! I save old socks and use them when I’m sending breakable items by actually putting the item in the sock and then rolling it up (of course this is to people that I know will be offended to receive one of my old socks as well).