Reducing Your Plastics When Moving Or Storing
The world produces around 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. But less than 10% of all the plastic ever made has been recycled.
So what plastics do we create in moving, and what can we do about it? We look at four items commonly used for packing, and some ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.
1. Bubble Wrap
In an ideal world, we’ll use less plastics. However, sometimes bubble wrap is the best tool for the job.
If it’s clean and can be reused quickly as bubble wrap (ie it has not had time to degrade), fabulous. And maybe friends or family can use it before you do anything else?
But if not, we can try to reuse it:
- The gardener’s friend: delicate plants can be protected from cold and frost by lining the sides of a planter or pot with bubble wrap, leaving the bottom free for proper drainage. And if your greenhouse lacks double glazing, keep drafts away by reusing bubble wrap to line the windows.
- The driver’s friend: keep early morning winter frost off your windscreen in the morning in the winter months by reusing that bubble wrap on your windscreen when parked up at night. Don’t forget to place your windscreen wipers over the top so it doesn't blow away. Apart from waking up to a frost-free windshield, snow is easily removed by simply lifting that sheet of bubble wrap.
- The shopper’s friend: reusing bubble wrap to line the inside of a food shopping bag can keep the items cooler for longer. It can also be used to protect delicate items, like fruit, from bruising by wrapping individually. (If you stress about the queue in the supermarket checkout growing behind you, keep the fruit separate and pack when you leave the store.)
- The short term storer’s friend: if you’re only storing something short term or moving things about, your bubble wrap can be reused to protect and cushion fragile items.
- The artist’s friend: bubble wrap - even used bubble wrap - has a million one uses in art projects. Search ‘bubble wrap art’ online – you’ll be amazed by the creativity.
- The fridge friend: in the same way lining a shopping bag with bubble wrap can prevent bruising, bubble wrap used as a fridge drawer liner can protect fruit and vegetables from bruising, and offer extra insulation to keep contents chilled.
- The campers’ friend: putting a larger sheet of used bubble wrap - before you pop it! - under your sleeping bag offers comfortable insulation to keep you drier and warmer.
- The saver’s friend: padded envelopes are expensive so create your own using card and left over bubble wrap.
- The pipe protector: bubble wrap can protect piping from freezing weather that could potentially lead to a burst. Pipes don’t care whether the bubble wrap is used or not!
And if we can’t reuse the bubble wrap, we can recycle it.
We recently blogged on bubble wrap and its use. Yes, bubble wrap can be recycled alongside other plastics like plastic bags. Ideally, pop all of the bubbles first, reducing the volume. (Some very unscientific surveys show that one minute of popping bubble wrap is the equivalent of a 30-minute massage for stress relief!)
2. Packing tape
When it comes to packing tape, ‘reducing’ its use is the best way to manage plastic use.
In this sense, a good quality tape cutting knife (they’re usually inexpensive) will ensure that you always have a clean edge and therefore not waste tape because it’s split down the middle or has a jagged edge.
Even better is a tape gun, which will ensure that you only use what you need.
(See the accessories on easyStorageBoxes for an idea of what we mean: Tape & Accessories – easyStorage Boxes)
Recycling information varies according to area, but if you’re storing used boxes, leave tape in place to avoid weakening the box structure.
The process of recycling card boxes involves churning them up with water. In the process, tape and sticky paper labels rise to the top to be skimmed off.
But that waste needs somewhere to go, so we suggest that you peel away plastic tape as cleanly as you can and put it into the recycling bin. Recycling centres treat soft plastics in different ways, so they may still not be recycled but burned. But at very least the boxes will be more easily recycled.
Reusing used tape requires imagination, so the best most of us can do is not to throw away tape on an unfinished roll – someone may well be able to use it, or it can be used for an essential fix later.
(And don’t forget to recycle that inner cardboard tube.)
3. Plastic boxes
Plastic boxes are great for storage around the home where things can be accessed easily, but aren’t a great long term storage option thanks to their sealed nature.
Once finished with, they are very easy to find new homes for, so there should be little need to recycle even split ones, as they can still be used in, for example, sheds for holding tools.
However, should they eventually need recycling, the majority of heavy duty plastic storage boxes are made of recyclable material).
4. Cling film
Cling film isn’t recommended for long term storage, but in a move in wet weather can be great for making sure that everything you’ve just packed doesn’t end up in the recycling bin!
Whilst the card centres of rolls are almost always recyclable, the outer will depend on where you live in the UK as to whether it’s recyclable: Cling Film, Recycle Now
At easyStorage we are certain that over time more eco-friendly materials will be offered at prices that make sense to consumers in the midst of an already expensive move, but, in the meantime, we hope this short guide can help us all limit our plastic use.