Boxes, boxes everywhere!

Yesterday was Cyber Monday. Did you dive into the deals this year? More and more shoppers are choosing the convenience of e-commerce. Buying items online and having them delivered to your home is popular year-round, but especially during the holidays. You might see those shipping boxes, packing materials, and padded envelopes begin to pile up this month.

According to Forbes Magazine, the average American family of four receives 84 packages per year. Satish Jindel, the president of Ship Matrixa, the firm that tracks delivery for the major carriers, estimates that from Thanksgiving through Christmas 2018 alone, the U.S. Post Office handled 915 million packages, UPS delivered 814 million boxes, and FedEx and smaller carriers processed 588 million packages.

With this huge volume of online packaging, we simply cannot throw it all into the trash without overflowing our landfills. Instead, we need to reuse or recycle what we can. Most shipping boxes are made from corrugated cardboard, which consists of three or more layers. Often, there are one or more squiggly or zigzag layers of cardboard sandwiched between two flat layers of cardboard. Corrugated cardboard is great for protecting items during shipping or moving. Because of its strength, it is sturdy and reusable.

Before tossing boxes into the recycle bin, please first consider how you might get one more use out of them instead. Free online marketplaces like FreecycleCraigslist, or Nextdoor often allow you to connect with neighbors who are moving and need boxes and packing materials. You could also use the boxes to make crafts with your children or grandchildren. If you need ideas for making cool toys out of recycled boxes, 15 Fun & Easy Cardboard Box Crafts For Kids or search online for ideas. Give the boxes one more use before recycling!

When efforts at reuse are exhausted, here is what to do with the packaging that remains:

• Cardboard shipping boxes should be recycled. Please empty and then flatten the box before recycling it at curbside or in a local dropoff bin.
• Deflated plastic packing pillows, bubble wrap, and plastic mailing envelopes can be recycled in the same way you would recycle plastic bags and other plastic film. Collect the bags and film in your house and then drop them off for recycling. Look for a location on the Plastic Film Recycling website.
• Packing peanuts are typically made of expanded polystyrene foam and are not accepted for recycling. These may be reused or may be accepted at some package shipping store for reuse. Call ahead to make sure they are currently accepting the items you have.
• Shipping envelopes or other packaging which contain a mix of paper and plastic that cannot be separated should go into the trash.

Eco-friendly online shipping tip: 

Whenever possible, choose an online shipping option that uses the fewest possible shipments for the items you ordered. This reduces the number of boxes needed and the number of delivery trucks, creating less waste and resulting in fewer emissions and less wear-and-tear on our roads.

Credit: TriggerPhoto | iStock | Getty Images Plus

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