Everyday Items to Use as Packing Supplies

Most of us have to pack up and move at least once in our lives, even if it’s just getting married and settling down right across the street from where we grew up (which is certainly not how it’s happened for me, but it has for some). At the same time, most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to afford all of those extra amenities available which make the moving process a lot less painful than it is. Because, let’s face it, even though it sounds pretty simple and straight forward, it’s just not.

Packaging Materials with String

Things always go wrong, and they always take a heck of a lot longer than we think they will. One of the biggest stressors is packing supplies. Yes, I said packing supplies. Because it turns out that when you want to start packing they don’t just appear before you in a nice little bundle. They wind up being incredibly expensive and I wind up finding out that I am a poor judge of size because I need to go back to the store a good four or five times to get more boxes or tape. I have compiled a short list of “moving hacks” consisting primarily of everyday items that can be used as packing supplies:

  • coming in at number one is garbage bags. Hands down. Without a doubt. These are absolutely perfect to stuff with everything in the linen closet. You may have to do a bit of refolding during the unpacking process, but that’s okay. Write on them with a sharpie: sheets, pillows, towels… And the best part is that you can still use the garbage bags if they don’t get destroyed in the move (and if they do, oh well, they are just garbage bags!).
  • coming in at number two is…wait for it… garbage bags! That’s right, twice in a row, and for good reason. If you are like me than you hate packing clothes because of hangers and then rehanging. Take a garbage bag and, while leaving everything still hanging, just slide it up over a section of clothes and tie it off right under the hangar hook. Voila! The clothes stay clean, the hooks make for easy carrying, the unpacking process is virtually nonexistent and, you guessed it, you can still use the garbage bags!

Packing Supplies

I’m going to stop there, because hopefully I’ve gotten the idea ball rolling a little bit for you. The next time you need to move take a minute to brainstorm and come up with ways to transform what you already have on hand into packing supplies.

Cardboard Storage Boxes Can Help You Stay Organized

There is a friend of mine who has a ton of kids. When I say she has a ton of kids, I really mean it. I’m not even going to tell you how many, but I will say that it’s in the double digits. And less than forty. I know for myself, with two children, that our need for storage did not simply double, since the number of people in our home doubled, it quadrupled and then doubled that. Somehow a couple boxes from the glory days became a lot easier to go through.

Cardboard Storage Boxes

Throwing out CDs we hadn’t listened to in over a decade was actually a grateful task. With each box that we went through it was a grumble and a groan over what kind of garbage we were going to stumble across. So the tote of CDs was a no-brainer: trash! In the place of all of those boxes of paraphernalia and meaningless momentos went “baby stuff”. And then “more baby stuff”, and then “baby stuff for girls” next to “baby stuff for boys”. Suddenly, we found ourselves having to organize by months, and then years, and then stuff they couldn’t fit into anymore and stuff that they wouldn’t be able to wear for a while still.

The need for a highly organized system became crucial. This is where my friend with the buttload of kids comes in. She uses cardboard storage boxes for all of her storage needs, which is obviously much more intense than my own. Notice that I said “cardboard storage boxes” and not plastic totes or bins. There are a couple reasons for this. For one, she doesn’t like anything clear so that the kids can see what is going on in there and want to investigate. For another, the cardboard storage boxes are a lot easier to deal with.


They are a uniform size, easy to stack tightly. With the plastic ones- there is a lot of space in between and behind that doesn’t get used. One of the most hidden but probably most important benefits of going the “paper” route is that you are sticking to manageable sizes and that means they won’t get too heavy.

Those plastic bins come in some ginormous sizes, and you wind up needing upwards of three people to move them sometimes. When you go with cardboard storage boxes you find yourself doing a job that you can handle on your own. Oh, one last tip: write the contents of the box on an index card, and put it in an envelope taped to the front.

The Thing About Bin Liners

Some bins work best with bin liners (like refrigerator bins… Google these if you have never never heard of them before. I hadn’t until very recently, but everything changed since then.). Some bins require bin liners (like trash bins. I guess they could probably go under the first category, but no one really just throws trash in cans anymore without a bag, and that’s because the result is nasty and disgusting).

Some bins don’t need bin liners at all. Consider Tupperware bins, or the Rubbermaid kind. Bins that don’t need the plastic reinforcement because they are secure enough and strong enough to protect whatever they are holding. In the case of my home, it’s going to be clothes that are too big for my kids (labelled Boy 5T winter, or Girl 24 mos. summer).

Bin Liners1

If it’s not stuff for them to grow into it’s what they’ve already grown out of: baby 0-12 mos., and baby gear- tub, wraps, bottles, etc. This is what my basement looks like. My basement also has a litter box, which I should really start buying liners for. And my basement also has a tote full of catfood, that I should also get some sort of liner for because even though it is in a plastic container something about it still attracts bugs and we have facilitated the start of some sort of small beetle colony somewhere in the vicinity. Not that I’m complaining.

I used to live in an apartment on the ground floor, a really crappy place, it was so drafty that we couldn’t even tape up those plastic sheets around the windows in the colder months because the wind coming through the cracks would blow it down. Insane, I tell you. Also, the grass grew to over one foot tall before it was cut, and it was not uncommon to almost step on a rabbit or a freaking snake on your way out to the car. The point is, though, that this crappy apartment had an ant problem, and the ants congregated to the cat food. Poor thing couldn’t even eat because her food was crawling…

The thing about bin liners is that they can be super helpful and handy, like in the case of the ones for the refrigerator, which work some kind of miracle in preserving fruits and vegetables. They can be considered a household staple slash necessity if you are like a normal household and believe in putting your garbage in a protected can. Whatever the case, there are a plethora to choose from, and they each have their own story and purpose. Just like everything else on this place, for goodness sake.

What’s in a Cardboard Box?

Does anyone remember that scene from Seven, at the end, where Brad Pitt is freaking out because he got a cardboard box delivered to him out in the middle of nowhere?  He’s standing there with Morgan Freeman, and they both know it’s something really bad, and Brad Pitt is crying like only Brad Pitt can cry, and he’s saying, “What’s in the box?”

Well, in case you don’t remember that scene, because you have never seen the movie, I won’t spoil it for you.  If you do remember the scene, because you have seen the movie, then you know what I am referring to.  And even if you’ve never actually watched Seven for yourself, you are probably familiar with phrase, because anywhere you’ve ever worked has probably involved someone opening a cardboard box, and someone else being witty and clever and enacting Brad Pitt: “What’s in the box?”

It’s kind of strange how people can bond over a cardboard box, in this case because of a movie that may or may not have been seen, but is generally still known about.  And that one little reference, made over a simple cardboard box, would open the door to conversation.  “You know that movie?”  “Yes/No… And/But have you seen…?”  An amazing conversation begins to build about movies that have had Brad Pitt in them, or Morgan Freeman, or Kevin Spacey (who is the other main character of Seven), and then more conversation stems from people who have been in movies with those people: Angelina Jolie, Jim Carrey, Jason Sudeikes… And so on and so forth.  Until a friendship has blossomed, and continues the end of time. Then a movie gets made about their friendship, which started because of talking about movies, which started because of a cardboard box.

The world is complex like that.  A cardboard box can bring you a gift, signifying a healthy and beautiful relationship that brings you joy and can make you happy.  It can also be the Grim Reaper, in a way, like when you have to pack up your desk because you just got laid off and have to go find another job now.  The keeper of good memories, like mementos from your childhood.  The keeper of bad memories, like notes and pictures from your ex that you bring out every now and then when you want to have a good cry.  We can’t forget those tiny ones, bearing the request of a promise: will you marry me?  What’s in a cardboard box?  I’m sure a lot of things come to mind…

The Hidden Benefits of Stretch Film

 It’s common knowledge that stretch film is a vital asset when it comes to packaging and shipping. It would be impossible to transport pallets of product without it. Delivery men would have to move hundreds of boxes as opposed to utilizing a forklift and moving a few tightly wrapped pallets. The hidden benefits of stretch film are a lot less common knowledge. Probably because they are hidden. Not the type of hidden that involves discovering a map under an old floor board, which tells you to find the man with the glass eye, who will tell you to go here and do this, and in the end you are digging a gigantic hole and you discover this other realm… Or maybe that is just the plot to the novel that I’ve been meaning to write… Awkward…


No, the kind of ‘hidden’ I am talking about comes with knowing people, and a little thing called street cred. You see, someone with street cred has this hidden knowledge, which they share with you and then you act on it, and then you have street cred too. Consider this: a group of teenage guys work at this café, and after hours they may or may not get some booze from one of the chefs, and even party in his trailer, but they all have access to certain items that are necessary when it comes to running a restaurant. In this case: stretch film. Now, this would be the type of stretch film that is more or less just saran wrap on steroids.


A solid thousand feet of the stuff wrapped on a three-inch pole and requiring a special team of trained individuals to operate. Okay, maybe not the last part, but anyone that deals with normal sized saran wrap could probably believe that huge saran wrap needs some sort of license to operate. Anyway, this particular crew of teenage guys, who may or not be under some sort of influence (and I’m not talking about the thrill of adventure and the glory of youth), decide to use one of those giant rolls of stretch film to wrap up the manager’s car. It only takes about ten minutes to use half a roll and the result is incredible. It’s going to take the jaws of life to set that Toyota Camry free. And done: street cred earned, and a hidden benefit bestowed on multiple individuals who will, in turn, bestow it on multiple others.