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Creative Ways to Repurpose and Recycle Amazon Packaging

Minimalism is catching on, and I'm excited about streamlining. I'm sharing what I've learned about decluttering and simplifying our lives.

The boxes add up much too quickly. Don't send them to the landfill.

The boxes add up much too quickly. Don't send them to the landfill.

What to Do With All That Amazon Packaging?

During the pandemic, shopping online at Amazon helped people get what they needed without leaving their homes. As the boxes and bags began piling up, I pondered ways to get more use from them. I did not want to see these ending up in the landfill as trash.

Of course, a few boxes could be used to store out-of-season items in the garage, but I couldn't use all of them that way, and some were too small for that purpose. Then there were the bags: Some were all plastic, some were paper with plastic bubble lining, and some were paper padded with paper fill (which Amazon switched to after people complained about the waste). Another issue was the plastic air pillows. What the heck could be done with those?

Read on to find some ways to repurpose and reuse all that packaging clutter from your Amazon orders.

Ideas for Recycling Plastic Amazon Mailing Bags

What can you do with the mailing bags (pouches, envelopes, or whatever you call them)? These ideas work for the white plastic, padded envelopes and also for the tan paper envelopes that are lined with plastic bubbles. Here's a quick list to get you thinking.

  • Give them to someone who is moving. They can put them between their plates for padding as they pack their kitchen items.
  • Use them yourself to mail something. Put a label over their label or turn the bag inside out so it will be plain white. Fold the top down and use packing tape to seal it securely. The post office does not want people to use staples as they can injure employees.
  • Donate a big batch of the mailing bags to someone who sells on eBay, Etsy, or other resale sites.
  • Use them as plant pots to give plant starts to friends and neighbors. (check the photos below for how I shaped and stapled those to suit my plants)
  • Cut along the seams and open it out to use as a background for paint projects.
  • Use the larger ones as liners for small trash cans around the house.

Ways to Reuse Amazon Boxes

  • I recycle if the box is too damaged to use again.
  • Make a Halloween costume. Check on Pinterest for ideas of costumes made from boxes.
  • Make a pet bed by cutting one side of the box lower, add a cushion, drape a sheet or towel over it all.
  • Store things in them so you don't need to buy those plastic storage tubs.
  • Ship things in them.
  • Give them to someone who is moving. (Advertise the boxes on your local Buy Nothing group, FreeCycle, or NextDoor Neighbors)
  • Give them to someone locally who sells crafts on Etsy or is a reseller on eBay and other sites.
  • Cardboard can be composted in your garden.

How to Reuse the Brown Paper Padding

Smooth out and flatten the brown paper used to cushion things in the boxes. Later, you can wrap gifts in it for Christmas. Tie with twine or yarn. Then tuck a piece of evergreen from your landscaping under the twine for an accent. Classic!

Brown paper—turned into pretty gift wrap.

Brown paper—turned into pretty gift wrap.

How to Reuse Air Pillows

Cut all the way down one side of a batch of air pillows, then separate them. They are perforated to easily pull apart from the adjacent pillow. Take them along on your walks for doggie-poop bags.

Cutting open the air pillows to turn them into small bags.

Cutting open the air pillows to turn them into small bags.

Giving Away the Boxes

Other people may not have as many boxes as you do, so share yours. Don't toss those boxes.

My neighbor was moving to Gulf Shores so I toted all my boxes over to her house for several weeks. She might be sorry she moved as she got there just in time for two hurricanes.

A friend had a son living in California. She needed lots of boxes to send his stuff from Florida out to the West Coast. I shudder at the mailing costs but at least she got her boxes free from me.

In the past, I've advertised the free boxes on NextDoor Neighbors and usually, they are all gone within a few hours. I put them out by the curb, so the people don't have to come to my door. Easy for them and no bother for myself. Once the boxes are gone, I remove my free ad from the site. Some people want larger boxes for moving but others can use the smaller boxes if they are sellers on eBay, Etsy, or Amazon.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Virginia Allain

Add Your Own Ideas for Recycling or Repurposing Amazon Packaging

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on November 22, 2020:

Jo Miller, I'm growing a vegetable garden this winter (Florida), so I'll make use of your tip. Thanks.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on November 21, 2020:

I use my for mulching. Also I sell on ebay and sometimes use them for packaging.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on November 10, 2020:

Good ideas! Your box collection looks like mine. Our local recycling center will take clean coardboard boxes that are flattened, I do that for the ones I can't use otherwise.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 10, 2020:

We try and reuse items as much as possible and recycle the rest. You gave some good suggestions here as to the possibilities of reusing items in creative ways.

Liz Westwood from UK on November 10, 2020:

That will be helpful, as we have a dog in the family that comes to stay with us sometimes.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on November 10, 2020:

I'm adding a picture for the doggy poop bag idea.

Liz Westwood from UK on November 09, 2020:

This is an excellent article. I have piles of boxes in my garage. I use larger ones for storage. Smaller ones are harder to find a use for, but are handy if I have to return a small tech item like a camera for repair. I am wondering whether to use them for craft witb grandchildren. At least they can go for recycling in the UK at the end of it all. Envelopes I tend to reuse with a label. I really liked your idea for the plastic bubble wrap.