Let’s talk a little bit about poly shipping bags. First of all: what are they? So the ‘shipping bags’ part seems pretty self-explanatory. But it’s that ‘poly’ part that starts throwing people off. Don’t feel bad, it threw me off too. I had to learn all about ‘poly’ and so now I will tell you. First of all, ‘poly’ is really just short for ‘polypropylene’ and now you can see why they were trying to keep it simple.
Nobody likes something they can’t pronounce. If it can’t be pronounced than surely it is something dangerous, like some mind-trick of the government or some secret agency that is somehow scamming us into doing their dirty work by not using the full term. Allow me to clear the air. I will spare you the spiel about the chemical and physical properties because it really doesn’t make any sense. Polypropylene on the molecular level doesn’t really matter to us because we are just trying to talk about poly shipping bags. I will tell you that it is a kind of polymer which, in the synthetic world (synthetic is a fancy way of saying ‘fake’), is basically plastic. So that probably doesn’t come as a surprise. Poly shipping bags are plastic. Big whoop. Well did you know that polypropylene is the second most important plastic? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
This type of material is chosen to make things out of because it is durable: its not easily destroyed, and it can withstand freezing and especially heat. On top of that, it is able to be joined by heat fusion which is a huge plus. All of this now ties into poly shipping bags. When you buy them you know you are getting a durable product that won’t be easily ruined, which means that it could probably even be reused, and at least whatever it is holding will be sufficiently protected. As for the heat joining, this is the cool part.
At PackagingSupplies.com they sell bag sealers, which does exactly what it says it does: it seals a bag by melting the two ends together, cutting off the excess in the process. The hand sealers come equipped with timers based on the thickness of the plastic, so that you don’t have to worry about doing a poor job. In particular, the rolls of poly tubing seem like the most effective type of poly shipping bags. You can use the heat sealer to just roll off however big you want the bag to be, and then seal it, and the next bag can be even bigger or smaller. When it’s all said and done, polypropylene has done the world of shipping and packaging and storing a huge favor.
I’m pretty sure Santa Claus uses bin liners. I imagine his toy shop is just full of bins, which means he needs the liners. I picture his factory with these gigantic bins of all sizes lining the walls, lined with the liners, and full of all of those pieces and parts that he makes all those toys with. I’m sure, in the past, the bins were full of plaid cloth squares, and fluff, and googly eyes. Nowadays they are probably full of buttons, and batteries, and wheels. Things have really changed. But probably not the bins and bin liners. I bet you that Santa Claus buys them from PackagingSupplies.com, too.
Even if you don’t believe in Santa Claus, which I wouldn’t you blame for (I mean, really, the whole thing doesn’t make much sense, and I hope you don’t mind me saying it), it’s probably at least easy to believe in bin liners. I’m not suggesting you start trying to convince your kids that bin liners have some sort of magical properties, and it would be hard-pressed to center that around Christmas of all things. BUT, when you think about toy shops, bins and bin liners make a lot of sense. And if you aren’t thinking about toy shops they still make sense for any kind of shop. Even for the supplier of the shop.
When you start breaking it down, I suppose it all starts with the suppliers. The suppliers need to have the bins in the first place and, therefore, they need to have the liners. They then fill said bins with the product, and ship them to the manufacturer, who opens them and has access to the product while they make what they are selling. Sure, Santa could just throw some bins in the back of the sleigh and drive out into his magical wonderland. I’m sure the elves pull cotton stuffing off the trees and stuff those bin liners. I’m sure they look underneath cute little plants and find Hot Wheels parts sprouting up, just waiting to be plucked.
There is probably a magical bird who lays plastic eggs, which are harvested and then melted down and poured into molds of all kinds… I think I’m getting carried away, but you get my point. It’s easy for Santa. Not so much for the laymen. There are many necessary steps that need to be taken in the industrial world this side of the North Pole, and bin liners have their necessary place amongst it all.
I’ve been talking about bin liners a lot, recently. I’m not going to lie, sometimes its hard to come up with something else to say. I mean, you would think that the subject would just wear itself out. Not so, my friends, not so at all. I’ve been mentioning how I recently cleaned out my garage and found an old bag of bin liners and used them to clean up the massive piles of leaves all over my yard.
Autumn is a really good time of the year to find a roll of bin liners. As I was cleaning and organizing I was filling those babies up with stuff to take to Goodwill. Having kids really means that you begin to accumulate stuff, and then you forget about a lot of the stuff until one day you drive home, look in the garage, and say, “Holy crap!” You go out, find some decrepit dump trucks from last summer, that old t-ball stand your son never used because he was born with a bat in his hand, apparently, and sand toys out the wazz. Somehow they never want to actually use the sand toys, they want to use large sticks and heavy rocks and playing with sand goes from being pretty chill to incredibly dangerous.
I’ve had to ban the activity several times at my house. It’s been sad, but necessary. Anyway… Stuff to donate went into the bin liners. I filled one of them with all the soccer balls, basketballs, tennis balls (anything that rolls) and threw it on the top shelf until the weather becomes nice again. I’m tired of having to throw a ball every time I’m trying to get to something else. I put the inflatable pool in one of them, because those things aren’t cheap and you can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to get two years out of it.
Just roll that sucker up, stick it into a nice, roomy, gusseted bin liner, and get it out of everybody’s hair until next summer when I unroll it. I shudder to think of the many spiders who will have made it their home, but I’m afraid it’s a necessary evil. I even used the bin liners to do what they are meant to do, which is line a bin. Okay, so the bin is imaginary, per se, but if you hang up a bin liner on a nail by the back door you can put any and all cardboard in there which makes it way easier to tote back to the firepit. And then you can reuse it! Buy some bin liners. Seriously, even if you are just cleaning out your garage and your yard.
Bin liners are an amazing and versatile product to have on hand. I would even go so far as to call them a tool. I call them a tool because when I have something that needs a solution, I sometimes go to bin liners. Allow me to explain. I was cleaning out my garage the other day and I came across an old roll of bin liners. That’s right, I said roll. This is because bin liners conveniently come on a roll, just like garbage bags do. Only bin liners are quite a bit bigger, and they are gusseted.
At PackagingSupplies.com there are close to a hundred sizes. That’s not an exaggeration, either. At least there are fifty. If I counted them all I would probably wind up somewhere in the middle, like eighty, but that doesn’t seem like a productive way to be spending my time. Feel free to do so, and let me know the exact number if you want. But the point is that the smallest size is thirty-six inches by twenty-eight inches by sixty inches. That’s right, this is the smallest size. Three feet by five feet. That’s pretty big, with over two feet in width. Remember how I said that bin liners are gusseted? That means they have a width. Normal garbage bags are just two flat pieces of plastic bound at the sides, and open at one end. It is flat.
At the sides of the bin liners an extra piece of fabric is sown in so that the liner gets wider as it goes down to the bottom, so that entire bottom space of the bin can be used to maximum capacity. This is a handy trick indeed. Back to the sizes… The largest size is fifty-eight inches by forty-six inches by one hundred twenty-five inches. That’s over five and a half feet by ten feet! I mean, not to give anyone some crazy ideas, but you could fit some pretty huge stuff in there. Like probably even a tiger.
If I wanted to secretly ship a tiger somewhere I could imagine myself using the hugest bin liner, in the hugest bin. Cut some holes in there, toss in a few slabs of frozen meat, and that tiger should arrive at his destination with no problems (and without ruining the bin, thanks to the liner!). You may not find yourself wanting to ship a tiger, but you could probably find something else.
It seemed right to begin a discussion about cardboard shipping boxes by talking about the history of cardboard a little bit. Namely: where does cardboard come from? First of all, cardboard is more or less a general term for some heavy-duty paper. After all, paper towel rolls are still cardboard but they are much thinner and not as strong as something like cardboard shipping boxes.
Wouldn’t you know it, but cardboard first starts out as wood! Unless, of course, we are talking about cardboard made from other recycled cardboard, but when the first cardboard was made it was made of wood. That’s right, trees chipped and then broken down with chemicals into fibers. These fibers then get washed to get rid of the chemicals, and it goes through a series of machines that bleaches it, mixes it, and cuts it up to make a pulp. From there is goes into a machine that converts into a mat of paper.
This mat goes through steam rollers that squeeze out any excess water and dry it at the same time, also making sure that it is smooth and even. The drying process is finished, and there is now paper! This paper is then used to make different kinds of cardboard. Cardstock is made by gluing several layers together. If cardboard shipping boxes are being made, then these sheets of cardstock run through a machine that gives it a rippled texture. This is called ‘corrugated’. This is what you see in between the flat cardboard, which is exactly what happens. The newly corrugated sheet is glued in between cardstock and then cut to size. Then people get to have their logo printed it, and all that good stuff.
Wherever you are sitting, take a quick look around and try to see how much cardboard is near you. Okay, for me, I’m seeing a paper towel roll (which is still inside the paper towel but probably not for long, once my kids get up). I see some hardcover textbooks on the desk next to me, which might have some glossy printed pictures on them but underneath that shiny paper is surely cardboard.
Can’t forget the box in the corner, that my brother and sister-in-law shipped massive quantities of Halloween candy in. It’s the first thing my kids ask for every single morning (thanks, guys). Cardboard is everywhere, and even places that aren’t obvious.