Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reusing Packing Peanuts

I seem to accumulate packing peanuts and bubble wrap like there is no tomorrow. Especially over the holidays, since all of our family lives a far and they love to send things to us (thanks everyone!). This year I found myself with a large box of perfectly reusable peanuts and wrap. However, I already have enough of this stored to mail about 100 packages. It is time to pass some of it along. Since I love finding people who need what I don't want on Freecycle, I posted what I have available late last night. This morning, I have two emails. One, from the people I will give it to, who are moving in the spring. The other email contained the following suggestions:

1) Bring the packing peanuts and bubble wrap to a local store that would us them, like a kitchen store. We live in an area that mostly has independent shops, and I am sure the owners would be happy to save on expenses and take these off my hands.
2) Bring them to the UPS store. This is a chain that I would think would have plenty of this stuff, but the writer of the email had done this in the past. I supposed even UPS is watching their bottom line and it is nice that they are open to recycling. I would expect most chain store to have silly policies that reject recycling...
3) Bring them to a thrift store. I visit our local one almost weekly. Of course they would like these, since they have many breakable items people need to get home in one piece.
Thanks, BG, for the suggestions.

Additionally, by serendipity, I came across a new favorite blog recently, called Craft a Green World. Kelly Rand just posted on "Crafty Reuse of Packing Peanuts". It contains this link to Instructables' "How to Fill an Office with Packing Peanuts" which is totally hilarious! I wish I had an office to do this to! Her other suggestions include using them to repack your ornaments and holiday breakables, for stuffing pet beds and decorative pillows, in the bottom of plant pots, or call the shipper to see if they will take them back...

...that last suggestion helped me remember that I had once seen that B&H Photo Video, who I frequently ordered from when I lived in the states, has a program for recycling packing peanuts. I dug out the brochure, since I could not seem to find anything on their website, and right on the front page in bold letters is says, "To recycle Stryofoam "peanuts" or packaging, call the Peanut Hotline at 1-800-828-2214". After some more web research I found out that the Peanut Hotline, under the Plastic Loose-Fill Council, is a nationwide (US) consumer reuse program. If you call that number it will give you the closest location that will accept your peanuts. I think it would be safe to say there are probably others services like this out there that can found with a little digging.

As for actual crafts... I was thinking you could make packing peanut garlands or "beaded" curtain strands. I did a search on "crafts using packing peanuts" and almost everything that popped up was a kid site or kid related craft, which does interest me since I teach the local recycled arts and crafts program for the after school program. The Paper Bag Octopus uses the packing peanuts to represent suction cups but seems like you could also stuff the paper bag with peanuts, instead of the wadded up newspaper that is suggested. The Toothy Puppet uses packing peanuts for teeth. In keeping with the holiday theme, here are directions for making a recycled Christmas wreath. If you really want to reuse your peanuts by crafting, there are tons of ideas on the web.

The same goes for bubble wrap. Here you can make a Bubble Wrap Footstool. I am intrigued by this project on DIY Network, which uses bubble wrap and bleach to bleach a pattern onto paper. I am not much of a scrapbooker but could use it in my mixed media work. Once again, no end to the possibilities on the web.

If you have an idea fora reuse or a craft using bubble wrap or packing peanuts, please comment here! Cheers!

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