Seven Ways to Get Free Shipping Supplies
Once upon a time I sold a lot of stuff on eBay and Amazon, and I always needed envelopes, boxes, and padding. The costs of these shipping supplies could really add up when you mail over a thousand things per year, so I looked into how to cut down my shipping costs. Here are some of the ways you can get your supplies for free and lower your business overhead.
Reuse Packaging - When I receive an online order it always comes with a box. Those boxes can be flattened and used for your own packages. I usually keep a couple boxes around for future use. Bubblewrap lined envelopes are also great and can be reused.
Newspapers - After you finish reading that weekly circular or newspaper, you could use it to stuff your packages for mailing. It is more environmentally friendly than bubble wraps or foam peanuts and could provide adequate protection to your package.
Junk Mail - If you have a reasonably good shredder, junk mail can be processed into filler for a package. As long as the recipient is not able to piece together your personal information, junk mail is a great substitute for foam peanuts.
Dumpsters/Recycling Bins - There are often perfectly good boxes available in dumpsters and recycling bins. They are usually cleaner in the recycling bin so I suggest looking there first.
Local Stores - Last week in downtown San Mateo I saw several shops closing down, and one of them had a lot of boxes they needed to get rid of. If you look around your town and find any dead businesses it is likely they may have unwanted boxes. I think if you ask around you can even get shipping supplies from stores that are not closing down because businesses tend to receive many packages a day and have no need for the extra packaging material.
United States Postal Service - The USPS offers free shipping boxes and envelopes for their Priority Mail or Global Priority Mail service. You can order the packaging online or go to the postal office. The catch here is that you must use the boxes for Priority Mail.
Friends and Family - You can ask your friends and family to save packing materials for you if you do not have enough yourself. You should make an effort to pick the things up, though.
This list is by no means comprehensive and I am sure you can find other ways of obtaining free mailing supplies. With so much online ordering and shipping of goods around the world I think we all need to reuse and recycle our packing materials.