Purging The Packing Peanuts: Four Environmentally Safe Packing Materials For Moving Fragile Items

6 April 2015
 Categories: , Blog


When moving house, properly packing and securing your more fragile and expensive items is always a key concern -- nobody likes it when the removals workers show up with boxes of smashed vases. However, the most commonly used padding and filler materials for boxes—polystyrene peanuts and bubble wrap—are notoriously bad for the environment. Not only do the manufacturing processes used to create them burn a lot of energy, but they take thousands of years to biodegrade, clogging landfills already choked with refuse.

Never fear -- there are a number of greener products you can use in place of these plastic products. If you feel like getting creative, there are also some unusual options you can use:

Recycled polystyrene and bubble wrap

Marketed as a green alternative (and generally coloured green to match), recycled packing peanuts and bubble wrap are becoming ever more popular, but they're not perfect solutions. Most brands of recycled packing peanuts only contain around 70% recycled material, and the processes used to recycle the polystyrene and polyurethane that these materials are made from still use large amounts of energy. They are also non-biodegradable.

Starch packing peanuts

Made from sorghum or corn starch, these packing peanuts are biodegradable, non-toxic, and can be disposed of by simply flushing them down drains with large amounts of water (don't flush them down the toilet unless you enjoy plunging for hours.) They are only slightly more expensive than regular peanuts, particularly if you buy them in bulk. They are slightly heavier than standard peanuts, which may be a concern if packing particularly large items. Their main drawback, however, if that they create large amounts of dust -- besides the mess this creates, it can also clog the mechanisms of fine machinery such as clocks, and create a potential fire hazard if used to pack heat-producing items such as toasters.


Obviously, don't choose the hot buttered stuff, or your new home will smell like an abandoned cinema for weeks. Instead, buy bulk packs of unpopped kernels and pop them yourself, using the end product in the same way you would packing peanuts. This is a relatively expensive option unless you manage to get your kernels at trade prices, but it is a thoroughly green one. The debris popcorn creates is also much less fine and easier to clean than the dust created by starch peanuts.

Junk mail

Many people advocate recycling newspapers for use as packing material, but it does not absorb shocks well and newsprint can leave indelible marks on some surfaces, such as unglazed terracotta. Instead, save your junk mail for a few months and put it to work as packing filler -- the stiff paper used has much better shock absorbing characteristics, and glossy catalogue pages provide a small amount of damp-proofing. Be sure to scrunch it tightly.

For more information, contact a company like City West Removals And Storage.