Monday, February 9, 2015

Save Money (and the Environment) with Recycled Packing Materials

As a vintage seller, owner of Start Talking Vintage of Manchester, CT, I love finding something old and making it new again, through giving it a new home or upcycling it for some modern appeal. 

I value being able to re-use, which is why I find such joy in re-purposing vintage materials. My passion for "recycling" doesn't stop just there- I also pack my sold orders using recycled materials. Not only is it extremely cost effective, but also beneficial to the environment!

Photo credit:  Windell Oskay

Tips on how to use recycled packing and shipping materials:

1. Save save save! I squirrel away old newspapers, used tissue paper and packing materials from things that I buy for my personal use. I have a spot in my attic for paper products that could easily be used for packaging. 

2. Make your own paper shred! I personally do not like to package with advertisement flyers from other stores- but the light weight material is perfect for packing. I use a small paper shredder to shred newspaper inserts. I mix the weekly sales shredded paper with kraft paper shred that I also shred myself- using those brown paper bags from the grocery store! 

packed snug with my own paper shred, straight from my shredder! 

3. Reach out to your friends and family and have them save their newspapers , cardboard boxes and other papers that would be suitable for packing for you! When your friends order online, ask them to save the boxes and the packing materials that their orders were shipped in!

4. Try The Freecycle Network. Freecycle is a website where you can post things you are looking to give away for free, as well as things you are looking to get- for free! The site is broken up by town, so all the listings you look at are local. I have responded to offers for bubble wrap, packing peanuts and boxes - where I simply had to connect with the person offering the free materials via email, where we arranged for me to pick-up. I have also made "wanted" posts for packing materials and have gotten offers for items. The premise of the website is just as it's name sounds- to recycle materials you have by giving them away for free to someone who can use them. Not only can you get packing materials from Freecycle, but you can also get printers, clothing, furniture and other household items people are looking to part with. I have gotten a sewing machine from the site!

5. Mix recycled materials with purchased ones. I never skimp on packing materials, especially when I am shipping fragile items. I also have a supply of new bubble wrap, boxes and packing peanuts that I have purchase, because sometimes my recycled materials need some more support in protecting my products.

6. Keep your materials attractive looking- always make sure they are clean! Just because it is recycled doesn't mean it should look like you personally picked it out of your neighbors recycling bin. I use a stamp that I had customized of my store logo on newspapers, tissue paper and kraft paper packaging. I also incorporate using baker's twine and other frills to pretty up my packaging. Branding can be everything!

7. Keep the recycling process going! I like to include a card in my packaging that says "The packing materials enclosed have been recycled. Please do your part and keep the cycle going!" This reminds my customers to reduce, reuse and recycle!

Enjoy finding materials to use in creative ways to ship your products!

Written by Jessica Marie of Start Talking Vintage. Jessica is a 21 year old college student who has developed a passion for all things vintage and the rich history they carry. She enjoys treasure hunting for historic beauties at estate sales, crafting, sewing and DIY projects, especially those that upcycle vintage items and give then new, modern appeal. She is studying Early Childhood Development and Education with the future aspiration of being a preschool teacher- but will never leave her old-soul vintage passion or eye for design behind.


  1. Paper is a material that can easily be recycled, and I suggest everyone should start recycling it. I personally like your suggestion about shredding unused paper, to use them for crafts or packaging. You listed a lot of great tips, Jessica. Thanks for sharing them! Kudos and all the best to you! :)

    Charlene Wells @ Pro Shred

  2. I agree with you. By using reuse packing materials we can save money as well as the Environment. Try the freecycle network and keep the recycling process going is the good tips given by you.


  3. Great post on packaging, thanks for sharing!!


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