With the carriers all offering contact-free deliveries many of us have been choosing to order goods online rather than risk the high street – this has meant that companies can continue to trade while at the same time customers can feel safe shopping from home. However, with all the extra parcel deliveries many of us are now inundated with packaging. Instead of just filling up the recycle bin, why not explore other ways to use parcel packaging and maybe pick up a new hobby at the same time? It's environmentally friendly and you'll have a lot of fun a long the way!
Turn your trash into treasure and make something beautiful you can enjoy and display with pride. Packing peanuts in particular are horrible for the environment as they cannot be recycled but before sending them off to landfill did you know you can easily incorporate them into an arts and crafts project?
Packing Peanut Garlands – If you have received some polystyrene or packing peanuts in a parcel then you can give them a new lease of life as room decorations. Get the kids involved and have them decorate the peanuts however they like, you can get really creative with glitter and glue, but even just use a dab of paint or felt tip pens will brighten them up. Once they have dried then simply thread them all onto a long piece of string or wool and hang them on walls or windows.
Packaging Collage – Have fun helping the kids turn packaging into a giant collage. Use a large piece of cardboard as your base and glue on whatever packaging you have to hand: foam peanuts, corrugated cardboard, bubble wrap or string. Create a fun design and then get messy decorating it with paint – perhaps you could create a beautiful NHS rainbow and display it proudly in your window!
Bubble Wrap Jewellery – Bubble wrap is one of the most commonly used packaging materials; it's great for protecting fragile goods as it's both lightweight and flexible. We already know it's also a great stress reliever – who doesn't love popping the bubbles? But did you know you can use a hot iron and baking paper to turn your bubble wrap into flat beads that you can then use to create bubble wrap jewellery?
We are amazed that something we normally just throw away once we have opened our parcels can be turned into something so beautiful!
Packing Peanut Beanbag – Another use for those pesky packing peanuts is to use them as stuffing for a beanbag or beanbag chair. You'll need quite a lot of them to fill a decent sized beanbag, so if you don't have enough then you can help fill it up by adding in some plastic carrier bags. Simply ball up the individual carrier bags and secure by twisting the handle to maintain the shape.
To create the beanbag, raid your airing cupboard for an old sheet, blanket or duvet cover and sew it shut along three of the edges to create a giant pocket. You'll find it easier to do this if you have a sewing machine but it's possible to do by hand if you are the patient type. Then just add in your styrofoam peanuts (and carrier bags if used) to the desired level of plumpness and sew the remaining edge closed. Now you have a comfy chair... for peanuts!
Just Have Fun
Remember when you were a kid and you got more fun playing with the card board box than the actual item inside? Recreate some of those memories by helping the kids turn your discarded packaging into a fun game or activity. You just need a box and your imagination!
Pimp My Ride - Turn an empty box into a car, or a boat, or a spaceship… the possibilities are endless. You can cut up smaller boxes to make wheels or wings and attach them to the larger box with glue or even sellotape. Get creative and decorate the boxes with paint, felt tips or crayons. To give your vehicle some added bling finish off with glitter, pompoms and tin foil – don't forget the fluffy dice!
Build A Fort - If you have lots of boxes then building a fort could be a fun way to while away a few hours. Again, just get creative and decorate the boxes to your own personal style, this writer likes the traditional "black marker pen bricks" but you can do what you fancy!
Don't forget to cut out windows and doors, with a bit of string you could even create yourself a working drawbridge. Bonus points if you create some cardboard swords and a shield so you can defend your fort against invading armies!
Play A Game - If you have lots of bubble wrap lying around then why not play a game of Bubble wrap hopscotch? This takes just a few minutes to prepare but will keep you (and your kids) entertained for hours!
- You need 10 similarly sized large pieces of bubble wrap
- In large writing number them 1 to 10 on the flat side
- Arrange the pieces in traditional hopscotch formal – securing the pieces to the floor with tape
- Then just jump and listen to the bubbles pop!
In The Garden
Packaging materials can easily be utilised in the garden, whilst most cardboard is recyclable don't feel like you need to shove it straight in the recycle bin. Here are our favourite ways to use cardboard in the garden along with other packaging.
Cardboard Compost – adding cardboard to your compost heap will help provide the rich nutrients your plants love. Most plain cardboard packaging can be used for compost just remove any labels/tape first. Tear the cardboard into the smallest pieces you can to aid the decomposition process, soaking the cardboard in washing up water also speeds the process up.
A good rule of thumb to remember is two parts green nitrogen-rich items (grass cuttings, vegetable scraps, flowers, tea leaves etc) to one part brown carbon-rich items (cardboard, dead leaves, straw, twigs and branches etc) layered up and keep it damp!
Grow Plants - you can use a small cardboard box and bubble wrap for starting seeds off in the house, forget buying expensive seed starter kits; a humble cardboard box is the perfect solution as it's lightweight, sturdy and when the seeds are ready to plant outside you can plant the whole box directly into the garden as the cardboard will just breakdown adding nutrients into the soil. Best of all, it's free!
- Fill a cardboard box with seedling potting soil
- Following the planting instructions on your seed packet
- Water the seeds in
- Cover with bubble wrap to keep the seeds moist until you see the first signs of growth
- Water and feed the seeds regularly with liquid fertilizer
- After a few weeks when the seeds are ready to be planted in the garden – simply plant the whole box!
Block Weeds - cardboard or even newspaper is great for this job. Just breakdown some cardboard boxes and place pieces of cardboard around your plants covering up all the visible soil. Water the cardboard well to get it nice and soggy as this will help the cardboard to stay put. Then just leave it!
The cardboard will block any weeds from coming through and will eventually breakdown into the soil – so no nasty chemicals and no cleaning up!
Protect Against Frost – use bubble wrap around delicate plants to protect them from unexpected frost. Just place some garden stakes around the plant bed and wrap bubble wrap around them to create bubble wrap walls. Then secure more bubble wrap over the top to create a bubble wrap roof – you've basically made a mini bubble wrap greenhouse – just be sure to remove all the bubble wrap once the frost has passed so the plants don't overheat.
In The House
It's not just the garden that can make the most of packaging materials. There are plenty of areas of the home that can benefit from recycling your parcel waste.
Line Your Fridge - Use bubble wrap as a liner for your fridge drawer and shelves – simply cut out a piece that fits the bottom of your drawer to keep items from rolling around and protect loose fruit and vegetables from bruising. You can put a layer of bubble wrap on your fridge shelves to help stop bottles rolling around.
An added bonus to using bubble wrap in the fridge is it helps keep the fridge clean for longer as if you have a spillage or it gets dirty you can just peel away the bubble wrap and replace with a new piece.
Windowsill Herb Planter – You don't need a garden to be able to grow your own fresh herbs. If you've been using the lockdown as an excuse to expand your cooking repertoire and fancy yourself as a Jamie Oliver then this is the perfect tip for you.
- Grab a small box, shoe boxes are perfect for this
- Fill with potting soil
- Sprinkle in some herb seeds
- Pop the box on a bright windowsill that gets plenty of good light
- Keep the soil moist but don't over water.
You'll be adding fresh herbs to your favourite recipes in no time at all, nothing tastes as good as home-made and home-grown!
Pot Plants – Use packing peanuts to help fill a large plant pot. Large potted plants look great but it's expensive to fill all that space with soil and it makes them really heavy too.
If you part fill the pot (about a quarter to a third) with polystyrene peanuts you will need to use a lot less soil for your plant, which will also make the pot a lot lighter and easier to move around. The peanuts will also allow any excess water to drain away from your plants roots leaving you with a happier plant. So you've saved your plant, your bank balance and your back all with a few foam peanuts!
For Your Pets
Let's not forget our furry friends when it comes to reusing packaging; whilst you want to keep the plastic wrap and peanuts far away from any inquisitive pets, the humble cardboard box can certainly be revamped into something your pets can enjoy.
Make A Pet Bed – We all know that cats love cardboard boxes, some more than their actual beds. So why not recycle a cardboard box and create your cat their very own Kitty House! Don't worry if you're not very creative, you just need to cut out a door for your cat to gain entry, add some windows for aesthetics and you're good to go.
But if you're feeling adventurous why not get really creative and go with a theme, adding turrets to a fairy tale castle for your princess cat or cannons to a pirate ship for your rambunctious kitten. Add in a blanket and a favourite toy and your cat will love it!
Doggy Destruction Box – Are your dogs going a little stir crazy with the one walk per day rule? Here's a great way to let them blow off some steam whilst reusing some of your packaging. Create a doggy fun box. Your dogs will have so much fun with this, but fair warning there may be a little tidying up to do after!
- Find a decent sized cardboard box
- Screw up some news paper into balls – some tight and some loose
- Shred some paper and scatter this throughout the box
- Throw in toilet/kitchen roll tubes, egg cartons… whatever you have to bulk out the box
- Then scatter in some treats – if your dog is on a diet then use some of the daily food allowance instead of treats
- Stand back and let the dog sniff out the treats
Bunny Toy – Rabbits and Guinea Pigs love to play with (and nibble on) cardboard so why not turn a delivery box into a fun new toy for your small furries? This is a really simple toy you can create by cutting out three circles of cardboard and slotting them together to make a ball. You can punch a few holes in the cardboard and add in some carrot or other treats to entice your animals to play with it.
As your pets are likely to enjoy sampling this toy please ensure that the box you use hasn't been used to carry anything that may be toxic to them and don't decorate these toys.
Send A Parcel – Stay Connected
Of course the obvious answer on how to reuse cardboard boxes is to simply – "Send A Parcel!" If you have followed our spring cleaning or decluttering guide why not see if you can sell some of your hidden treasures on Ebay and then recycle old boxes for posting out your items. You can also create a care package to send to a loved one to let them know you are thinking of them even though you can't visit them at the moment.
Parcel delivery has been proven to be very safe and low risk from Covid-19 Interparcel are working hard with all of our trusted courier providers to ensure that you can stay connected during this difficult time. All collections and deliveries are door step drops and contact free keeping you and the driver safe.
How contact free delivery works:
- The driver will approach your door and place your parcel on the doorstep
- The driver will ring/knock on the door and then step back the advised 2 metre social distance
- Once you open the door and acknowledge the delivery the driver will sign for the goods on your behalf
How contact free collection works:
- The driver will ring/knock on the door and then step back the advised 2 metre social distance
- You should open your door and place the parcel on the door step
- Once you have then closed your door the driver will approach and collect the parcel