Packing materials can be a difficult thing to shop for because there are so many options and versions of similar products. Some are environmentally friendly, while others may not be so it’s important to weigh out your options when choosing the best material for packing. Learn how to distinguish between different types of packing materials to ensure that you are making the best choice for the items you are packing.
How to Choose the Best Packing Materials
There are so many different types of packing material such as bubble wrap, packing paper, packing peanuts, honeycomb wrap, and honeycomb paper. Choosing the right packing material doesn’t have to be a difficult task, but it’s important that you think about the items you are packing up and what material would protect your belongings the best. There are a number of reasons that each of these types of packing materials is good, here are some factors to keep in mind when the time comes:
Accessibility: The packing material you wish to use should be of convenience to you or pretty easy to get. If you need to order the packing material and it’s going to take too long, try a different type. They are all made to do the same thing – keep your items safe and prevent damage, so if it’s out of your way to get the particular type of packing material, choose something similar. With W.B. Mason’s G.O.L.D. Star delivery service, packing materials and shipping supplies will be delivered to you as soon as the next day, so be sure to check out all of the offerings.
Protection: You want to think about the level of protection your packing material can give your items. When packing fragile or expensive items, you want to make sure they are protected while in transit. The whole goal of packing material is to make sure your items don’t break, so be sure to choose something that will do a good job protecting the things you are shipping.
Cost: Whether you are using shipping supplies for moving, sending orders, or a gift, you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on your packing supplies because moving can be costly. Protective packing materials should be affordable and pretty reasonable for the amount of packing you are doing.
Environmental Impact: If you can, think about the aftermath of your packing material and what will happen to it once you are done with it. Can it be recycled? Can it be reused for another project? Can you give it away to someone else for their move? If it is salvageable, try to do something else with it before throwing it away. If it can be recycled and you don’t have a reason to keep it, recycle it. Some options that are sold may already contain recycled material, so look for the symbols before purchasing.
What to Use for Packaging
There are different types of packing materials for different purposes. Let’s go in depth about each one to determine what the best packing material is for different types of objects:
Air Pillows: Air pillows are a low weight option for small, yet breakable items that are being packed and shipped elsewhere. They are usually made of plastic and can be described as big pockets of sealed air that can be layered on the bottom and top of your box. Air pillow packaging can encapsulate your item without breaking it and is a great option to fill up excess space around your item without using packing peanuts that can be messy.
Bubble Wrap: Bubble wrap is great for using inside of boxes that contain fragile items because of the protective cushion the air-filled bubbles provide around the item. It is very lightweight so that you can save money on shipping costs if you are shipping the items. If you are simply carrying the box to and from locations or a mover is doing the heavy lifting, the bubble wrap won’t add to the weight of the box. Bubble wrap is made of plastic and can most likely be recycled.
Cold Packs: Cold packs or ice packs for shipping are used to prevent items that are meant to be cold from getting warm during shipment. If an item is supposed to be cold or should be shipped at a certain temperature, it can be unsafe to use or eat if it arrives warmer than it should be. Items such as meal kits, meat products and frozen items are examples of items that can be inedible if they are shipped at the incorrect temperature. Cold packs are available to ensure that your items stay cold during transit and won’t go to waste.
Corrugated Pads: Corrugated pads are sturdy pieces of cardboard that have more protection than regular cardboard and are made to separate items in a box. This is a popular shipping product because of the smaller cells they can create inside your shipping box. By using corrugated pads and separating the box into cells, each cell can hold a different item as opposed to stuffing all of the items in one box hoping they won’t break. This item is convenient if you are shipping multiple items in one box but still want to protect your items from damage during transit.
Desiccants: A desiccant is typically found inside a package or box that contains an item that can be damaged by moisture. Desiccants are packets of a hydroscopic substance that is used to keep its surroundings dry and to absorb water and come in a variety of sizes. They can also prevent mold and mildew from forming during shipment. Desiccants are helpful for packing items such as cosmetics, vitamins, or anything that would induce damage or prevent the item from being used if it wasn’t completely dry.
Honeycomb Paper/Wrap: Honeycomb paper or wrap is a lightweight paper-based material that you can use for shipping or for protecting items that you need to transport elsewhere. It is a paper-thin material that is sturdy, great for the environment, and protects your items. The honeycomb looking panels were made to use less product due to the holes that look like honeycombs. Honeycomb paper can protect things such as photographs or artwork and can be stacked in between items to protect them in transit. Honeycomb wrap is pliable and can be stuffed inside boxes similar to bubble wrap and packing peanuts. This material can be used to cushion breakable items inside a box and is recyclable. Some popular ways for honeycomb products to be reused would be for arts and crafts, as well as kindling for fires.
Insulated Box Liners: Insulated box liners provide insulation in order to keep the box and its containments at the right temperature during shipping. Things like meats, cheeses, fruits, and chocolate can melt, spoil, or become inedible without proper protection from insulated box liners. This material is reusable and recyclable which is great for the environment, and perfect for transporting goods long distances without the fear of them spoiling.
Packing Foam: Packing foam is great for softening the surroundings of fragile items and acts like a pillow to avoid scratches or chips. This product comes in a variety of thickness, sizes, and materials and are pliable to fit into any box.
Packing Paper: Packing paper is also a great option for protecting your fragile or expensive items from being damaged during transit. Simply crumble up your paper and stuff it into any free space in the box to cushion the item. Packing paper is easily accessible and it’s one of the more cost-effective options for shipping supplies, and it can be recycled or reused for other activities! It depends on the item you want to protect but packing paper might not be the best option for something as fragile as ceramics, or glass, and it doesn’t offer as much resistance paired with heavier items.
Packing Peanuts: Packing peanuts are not the best when it comes to the material they are made of, but they are one of the better options for keeping your items protected. Styrofoam isn’t environmentally friendly whatsoever and cannot be recycled, but there are options out there for biodegradable packing peanuts. They fit into small spaces and can optimize protection, so your items don’t move during transit. They are also lightweight which keeps shipping costs low. Because of the material they are made of, Styrofoam packing peanuts can absorb moisture which makes them even more protective for your items.
The Great Packing Material Debate
If you’ve ever been indecisive when choosing a type of packing material, have no fear! Determining whether you should go with packing peanuts or bubble wrap or Styrofoam vs. biodegradable packing peanuts can be tricky because there are pros and cons to each product type. Here is a comparison and a breakdown of each category and when to use either material for packing or shipping:
Air pillows vs. Bubble wrap: If you are deciding between air pillows and bubble wrap to ship a fragile item, here are some pros and cons about each option. Bubble wrap is great for wrapping individual items, while air pillows are great for enclosing the item to prevent it from moving within the box. Both options are reusable if they don’t pop in transit, which is great for the environment and reduces waste. Air pillows take up more space, whereas bubble wrap is thinner. Both are a great option for shipping due to the pockets of air and are also great to use together.
Air pillows vs. Packing peanuts: Similar to what was said above, air pillows take up more space, but the large air pockets lead to more protection of breakable items. Packing peanuts are a great option for filling in the gaps inside your box. Both can also be reused if the materials aren’t damaged during transit. While both can be used to layer the bottom and top of the box, you want to make sure that if you use packing peanuts to use enough to fill the entire box to prevent damage to your item. Laying down a layer of air pillows might be a better option and filling in the small spaces with packing peanuts will set you up for success when it comes to packing your fragile items.
Packing paper vs. Bubble wrap: If you are trying to decide between using packing paper or bubble wrap for protecting your items while in transit, it really comes down to the types of items you are packing. If they are fragile and delicate like glass, ceramic, or contain something that could spill or leak, go with the bubble wrap. If it’s something that just needs some cushion for the ride and won’t break easily, use packing paper. Bubble wrap is great for physically wrapping the item in, so it doesn’t break, while packing paper is good for stuffing into the crevices of the box so the item doesn’t move.
Styrofoam vs. Biodegradable packing peanuts: These two products aren’t that different when it comes to what they look like and the purpose of the product, but one is easier on the environment, and one is not. Biodegradable packing peanuts are the better option because they are easier to recycle than regular Styrofoam packing peanuts. While Styrofoam packing peanuts may be more affordable and more accessible, the biodegradable ones will make a better impact on the planet in the long run.
Bubble wrap vs. Packing peanuts: When thinking about what will protect your item the best while moving, bubble wrap verses packing peanuts comes to mind. Both options are great for protecting your fragile and expensive items, but it depends on what purpose you need it for. Bubble wrap is great for wrapping items in, and packing peanuts are good for getting into those small spaces to protect the item from breaking while it’s in transit. They are both lightweight and won’t affect shipping costs too much, but they should be used purposefully. Bubble wrap can get expensive if you are using it to fill up space in the box to prevent your item from breaking, so you are better off using packing peanuts if that is what you are looking to do. On the other hand, packing peanuts won’t completely surround your item the way bubble wrap does, and if you don’t pack your box to the brim with the peanuts, there is a chance your item could move or shift while in transit. Using both is a great way to be extra cautious and would help prevent breakage better than using one over the other.
Honeycomb paper wrap vs. Bubble wrap: Honeycomb wrap and bubble wrap are both used in similar ways when keeping fragile or expensive items safe and protected. They both are wrapped around the item to prevent any breakage or movement while in transit. The difference between them is that bubble wrap can be a bit more protective than the honeycomb wrap due to the air bubbles. If you are looking for a more sustainable way to ship items and they aren’t made of glass or ceramic material, go with the honeycomb paper wrap. For more fragile items, bubble wrap will most likely be the better option.
The Best Packing Supplies
Whether you are moving, shipping orders, or sending a gift, the type of packing material you go with should help protect your items during transit and help prevent them from breaking. If you are able to get the greener version and help the planet, even better. W.B. Mason has everything you need for your shipping and packaging supply needs at discounted low prices every day. With our G.O.L.D. Star delivery service, you can receive your order as soon as the next day. Happy packing!
Benchmark Industrial. Bubble Wrap vs. Air Pillow Void Fill: Comparing Costs. (www.benchmarkinc.com/media/post/bubble-wrap-vs-air-pillow) Accessed August 24, 2022.
Moving.com. The 5 Most Protective Packing Materials to Use When Moving. (https://www.moving.com/tips/best-protective-packing-materials) Accessed August 9, 2022.
Shipware. What Are the Best Packaging Materials for Shipping? (shipware.com/blog/what-are-the-best-packaging-materials-for-shipping/) Accessed August 9, 2022.
U-Haul. Choosing the Best Protective Packing Materials for Moving. (https://www.uhaul.com/Tips/Packing/Choosing-The-Best-Protective-Packing-Materials-for-Moving) Accessed August 10, 2022.