Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Recycling and upcycling packing materials

Since starting my etsy shop I've been looking into ways to recycle shipping supplies.

I suppose some of it's economic (so customers don't have to pay higher shipping and handling fees), but it's mainly environmental. And I realize now that recycling doesn't just have to stop with a reused mailer, there are a lot of other creative and cool ways to recycle.

Many of these I'm planning on using, and not just with etsy, but hopefully with everyday shipping too.

The etsy forums have a lot of helpful hints, like:

Don't reuse Priority Boxes, not even turned inside out. This is not allowed by the postal office, and often they get angry about it.

Tyvek Envelopes were highly recommended when you have to go with pre-bought shipping pads. They are made from recycled milk and water jugs.

Several people recommended ironing used gift tissue paper.

Another tip I liked is to save the non-written-on side of Christmas cards for tags and notes.

It was also suggested that if you do recycle packaging that you also buy a stamp or tape that reads "I recycle," so your client doesn't think you're just being cheap.

Several people on the etsy forums said they turned cereal boxes inside out and used those as shipping packages.

These cool envelopes were made by Marmalime out of old maps.
I asked her about them and she said:
"Most of the envelopes that I re-cover with maps are tyvek or weather proof, plus I'm adding the extra layers of maps so I'm not too worried about leaks. I sometimes sew my own envelopes with packaging foam or bubble wraps and recycled maps, and then put orders in an extra plastic bag just in case."

There's actually a whole group on flickr devoted to etsy packaging. Not all of it is recycled, but it's good for inspiration.

I personally have gotten bubble wrap (called jiffy packs in the UK) from freecycle.

The Crochet Queen over on etsy writes her thank you notes on the back of monopoly money (from a set which has lost too many pieces). How cool is that!

Here's some instructions on making your own envelope. Probably best for personal use though, the post office might not like them.

There's also an etsy shop that sells recycled stationery if you're low on time.

I was impressed that many of Tamdoll's items are sent in pillowboxes that she makes herself. I didn't ask in time for permission to include the pic here, so you'll just have to click here to see it.

I was really happy to see there was a Youtube tutorial on how to do

And now I'm off to make my own pillowboxes! Bye.


  1. Pillow boxes are hard!

    I've been playing around with making them out of calendar covers... pretty sturdy but hard to work with being so thick and all. and one side is usually very glossy and doesn't take to glue very well... so then you have to sand the edges ...

    I sorta gave up, but I'll try again when I'm not so frustrated.

  2. I have no clue if my remark went thru or not. lol Thanks for the recycling tips. My daughter is excited to make some pillowboxes to put her special items she make for her Nana!

  3. Oh,forgot to add, did you see that I picked you for one of my top 10 blogs? Her is the link to the post.

  4. Wow thanks for all of the great ideas! I'm always looking for ways to recycle.

  5. Great post! Thanks for including my recycled map mailers!

  6. You're welcome marmalime!
    Thanks so much knitwit!!

  7. Thanks for linking to me! (You can use my pictures anytime, fyi, just let me know before or after so I can link back, too!).
    I make the pillow boxes using the die-cut machine at the library - I just bring my own recycled boxes to use.
    For more recycled packaging - the library is also a great place to ask about what they dispose of - I get a lot of packing materials there - books are always being shipped in bubble-wrap envelopes or small boxes.

  8. These are some great ideas! I get hung up on packaging and mailing a lot. I'll be stalking some of these links! thanks