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The Many Uses of Packing Paper

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I’ve been crazy busy for the past week working on the book. I haven’t focused very much energy here, so today I’m going to write about something kind of off-the-wall: packing paper. More specifically, what you can do with it after you move.

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Saving Packing Paper

This has been on my mind for a while. In fact, it’s one of the first articles I imagined when I was planning this blog, and it dovetails nicely with the philosophy of, “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” I don’t want to turn this blog into an arts ‘n crafts blog. But I love the idea of using what you have, and finding alternate uses for things beyond their obvious purpose. And packing paper has been insanely helpful to me around here.

When we moved into our new house we had a ton of packing paper. I have always been good about flattening paper back out, rolling it up into bundles, and storing it in a box. I’ve sold or given away several sets of moving boxes and paper by neatly re-packing everything in this manner. After the most recent move, we threw our giant box of packing paper in the basement…and immediately started using it. So far I’ve found a ton of uses for something so simple, and I’m really glad we hung onto it.

Alternate Uses for Packing Paper

Drying boots. Paper works really well for drying out a pair of wet boots. Despite my boots being waterproof, they still get soaked sometimes (either with sweat from within or stepping in water over the mouth) and there’s not much I can do about it except dry them out. I open them up, and shove some loosely wadded packing paper in there. In the morning the paper will be damp. Just replace it and keep replacing it every 12 hours or so until your boots are dry.

Dirty/messy jobs. Any time I have a messy job coming up and pull out a bunch of packing paper to protect the floor. This includes stuff as simple as spray painting some magazines to changing the oil on my vehicles (yes, I’ve turned into that weirdo). Packing paper is awesome for protecting your floor/driveway/countertop/whatever.

Lighting fires. I heat with wood, and we’ve had a pretty mild winter, so I’ve had the opportunity to light quite a few fires. Having some paper on hand, readily accessible, and without a bunch of inks and chemicals is nice.

Lighting the grill. Again, having some paper on hand for the grill is very nice. We use a charcoal chimney rather than lighter fluid. Clean paper without print, gloss, etc. is really nice to have on hand.We keep a galvanized trash can on the porch filled with charcoal and a bundle of packing paper.

Cleaning glass. I learned this one in the military with newspaper: packing paper cleans glass better than any rag, ever. Spray the window lightly with Windex and wipe it dry with newspaper. No lint, no streaks, no problems. Sorry – no pictures of this one.

Concealment. This one is probably the biggest reach but I am using it. We have some “bugout” supplies in clear, plastic bins. Why clear? They just happen to be the best, most air-tight bins we have. I don’t really want everyone walking by to be able to look into them, and I want to protect the contents from light. A single layer of packing paper fixes that nicely.

Moving. And of course, you can use packing paper for moving. Some of our friends recently moved. We gave them a bunch of boxes and we loaned them a bunch of packing paper. It was super nice to be able to help them out by taking some cost off an already expensive move, and making things a bit more convenient for them. Moving generates a ton of very lightly used garbage. Pass that stuff on – I’ve had great success advertising free moving supplies on Craigslist. Someone comes and gets great materials and you get your trash hauled away for free. It’s win-win.

Closing Thought

I’m sure if I really tried I could stretch this into about ten other reasons, but  I really don’t care about making the longest possible list. I just wanted to list the really practical uses we got out of this stuff.

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