Product packaging

Last Saturday Bronwyn made this request in regard to what to do with product packaging. Since I have some experience with this issue I figured I would jump in immediately and  write a post about it.

As anyone who has been reading 365 Less Things for some time will know, my husband’s job requires us to move every now and again, sometimes interstate, sometimes overseas. So as you can imagine I have had some experience with moving. What I do know is that there are some items that are best moved in the packaging they arrived in. Items such as televisions, computers, collectables, printers, basically anything expensive and fragile or precious you wouldn’t want broken. I am fortunate that my husband’s work also pays for a professional removal and anything broken is repaired or compensated for at its current value. Getting paid out for a used ten year old television isn’t going to buy you a replacement in todays market though and the inconvenience of placing a claim and finding a replacement is frankly a pain in the behind. So needless to say we keep the boxes for television, desktop computer and screen, collectables, our art pieces (if they came with one), DVD player, Playstation and the like. We don’t keep boxes for things like the kettle, the iron, glasses, blenders and the like.

But most people don’t move often so I can’t see that there is any need to keep boxes except for warranty purposes. For instance I wouldn’t throw out the box my son’s playstation came in while it is still under warranty. But under normal circumstance (which I don’t live in) I would throw away any warranty forms and boxes once the warranty period has expired. Even the manuals aren’t necessary these days because you can usually access that information on-line.

I would also check with the manufacturers warranty requirement before bothering to keep the boxes. Some items are repaired on site, some have local repair agents that you can drop the item off too while others will have to be mailed away. Some companies arrange the pickup and send packaging to put the item in when warranty work is required. Just check you warranty forms and call the phone number supplied if in doubt. One thing I love about Apple products is if you live in a big enough city there is a Apple Store nearby that can take care of all your warranty needs. I wish it were this simple with all electronic products.

I have included below a photo of the under stair cupboard in our garage so you can see how much space is taken up with the boxes we feel necessary to keep for our circumstances. Aside from the few non-box items in the cupboard everything you can’t see filling up the back spaces is also boxes.

Our box collection

We have put the foam and packing for several boxes into one large box which has allowed us to flatten a couple of big boxes which are hidden behind the garage shelving. Luckily the foam is moulded with the product ID and instruction such as left top, right bottom so it is easy to identify which item they belong to and how they fit that item. I know this because recently we decluttered boxes that belonged to some items we have now passed on to new homes.

Would I love to be rid of these boxes? You bet I would and if I were Bronwyn most of them would be out of here. In fact I asked my husband this question ~ “If we were to find the right smaller house to buy and there was no storage space for the boxes in the garage, what would we do?” His response was they would just have to go once we have made the move. Sometimes you just have to take your chances. I suppose in a way these boxes are “I might need it some day” items. But “some day” can turn out to be just around the corner for us.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter those handbags that you don’t use or love anymore.

Today’s Declutter Item

This is the closest thing to a handbag I have to declutter at the moment. It is a little leather money pouch. I lost it once when it had about $140 in, the proceeds of a boot sale I participated in prior to moving way back in about 1993. Fortunately a honest person handed it in to the police. I haven’t used it in a long time so it can go.

Leather Money Pouch

Something I Am Grateful For Today

Friendly strangers.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. The environmentalist in me is obligated to stress the importance of finding products with minimal packaging when making new purchases. Less packaging = less waste and less clutter. Buying used also prevents packaging buildup, and you can request no plastic or other restrictions when ordering online from pretty much any company. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

    The only “box” I have is the plastic bag that my comforter came in, as it is quite bulky and I’m not sure how else I would move it or store it compactly in the warmer months. I have a laptop, with laptop holder. No television or game consoles. The sentimental or breakable items I do have are just fine wrapped in newspaper or bubble wrap 🙂 Then again, I’m not the sentimental type.

    Although, I genuinely don’t understand how the original packaging would help with protecting a box shaped object. Wouldn’t they be the easiest to procure secure packaging for?

    • Hi Aurelia,
      good points about the environmental issues surrounding packaging. It certainly is a problem. Unfortunately companies also agree that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!” in so much as they will package there products in such away to prevent any chance of damage on delivery which would affect their bottom line. So items such as the ones I have mentioned in the post ~ television, printers, computers screens etc ~ will always come in a lot of packaging.

      Buying used will certainly prevent packaging build up but for the most part with electrical appliances and devises I intend to use them until they are no longer working properly not just buy reject buy reject so I would rather know I am buying something that will last me for a long time and not just buying someone else’s problem. In this day and age with so much planned redundancy built it secondhand often mean past it’s used by date. This is a shame but I think it is reality. I would have no problems buying things like a toaster, a hairdryer or any of those smaller inexpensive appliances but with anything else I would be very wary.

  2. Where I don’t need additional inner packaging – some items come with cardboard shaped inserts to stop the item rattling around in the box – I remove the tape and flatten boxes where I need to keep them. Then I just retape when I want to use again. I have one of the industrial tape machines that you use when you are moving (sorry, not a great description!) and that makes it a very quick job to redo.

    I keep almost all the toy packaging for the children’s small toys because when I give them away to charity shops/freecycle I think it is a nice touch. But then we have a convenient corner of the loft that is dedicated to just this and as my youngest is now 3.5 so we are rapidly processing the pile out of the house. The toys that remain are jigsaws, board games etc., which sit in their original boxes in the playroom iyswim.

    • That all sounds very sensible LJayne. Most of the boxes we have kept have foam in them and unfortunately it can’t be flattened. I suppose also that the cupboard under the stairs isn’t used for much else so we don’t go to much trouble trying to minimise anything else. I think I will take a good look at it all again soon and decide if there is any need to declutter further or compress what is there.

  3. Aurelia touched on something that I would like to mention – we keep the packaging for electric blankets and duvet inners (doonas) as we have to alternate between Winter weight ones and Summer weight ones. We store in the ceiling space so it (a) keeps them clean and (b) makes it easy for us to identify the right size (we don’t all change to Winter at the same time in our house – I’m always the first)

    • I have a camphor wood chest I can store these in so I don’t keep the bags but it certainly makes sense in your situation. You can even store the bag under that mattress like we used to do at the furniture store I worked at.

      • Yeah we put the bags under the bed (slat) during Autumn/Winter but our psychotic cat keeps dragging them out. Don’t know why. And then we store them up in the ceiling attic over summer when they are full again.

        I actually have this weekend down for sort out all the duvet inners etc up in that area, as I am now slowly working my way thru the ceiling storage and that is the next corner. I suspect we have duvets up there in sizes we no longer require or fills that we no longer choose to use ie my hubby doesn’t like feather & down duvets because of the feathers. I suspect Goodwill is going to be rubbing their hands in glee.

        • I used to love my down comforter but it got very old and probably gross after years and years of wear. So I bought a new one about 8 years ago. The new one had a different baffle set up and I did not like it one little bit. The down kept working its way down to the bottom corners and to get it to redistribute I had to shake it and beat it with a broom for what seemed like hours. I gave up in the end and bought a wool comforter for winter and a cotton one for summer and did the swap like you do. This year my son needed a new comforter and we gave him the cotton one and we just kicked off the wool one when it was too hot. Seemed to work out OK.

  4. The irony is that our laptop box was wedged under the cabinet in the lounge and every time I sat down to watch TV I’d think……I could throw that out! Then the mouse pad stopped working over the weekend and thanks to extended warranty I had to send it to Auckland on the courier yesterday, and I had just the right box to send it in…….

  5. Great post! And something I pondered when I moved into my place. I did toss all the small appliance boxes (incl microwave, it wasn’t really ‘strong’ once opened). But I did keep the plastic socks for both sofas, which will be very useful in the next month when I paint (and they fold down well!).

    I do agree that you need to aim for ‘less’ packaging (which is possible when you buy at Breville’s second shop, and you save money! funnily, they went and got me a ‘properly boxed’ blender when I went to buy that?!)

    Waste is interesting, last night I channel surfed to SBS (australia) and found ‘the hardest place to be…’ a garbo (garbage collector in English). This big burly british bloke spent a while in Indonesia, learning how they collect trash there. It was EYE opening, and made me feel like I can ‘bother’ to split composting from plastic, from glass, from tins. Just seeing the flies, and the mixed waste was horrible! And then people pick through the tip to find plastics, glass etc. The indonesian guide was doing this, and found a bone, and that gets collected too! When they have a huge bag of plastic bottles, they go to a recycling hut, and get $2 for this HUGE bag. And that’s some food for him and his wife & kid. This Indonesian garbo works from 6.30am til midnight, and lives at the tip. The poor British fellow was just aghast and furious at the whole situation – the conditions, the pay, the work/life… I didn’t get to see the end, so I’m not sure how they ended it, but I doubt it was with a ‘Undercover Boss’ style big fat cheque or similar

    • Hi Snosie,
      I didn’t keep the box for my microwave oven either because I would think it is reasonably robust and would fare pretty well in a removals box.

      I would expect items at a seconds shop to come in the same packaging as a new product.

      I saw a similar situation on a BBC show I think on the slums in India. The thing is some of those people professed to be happier that the richer people in society. I dare say this isn’t always the case but the world is a strange and amazing place. Is it not the case that the more you have to more you worry about protecting that wealth.

  6. An interesting post. For some reason we seem to get a lot of boxes around here. For one thing, I order a lot of things online because it saves me from going shopping. There’s nothing like sitting in your jammies, in your recliner using your laptop computer to shop. ONce you find what you want and the best price on it a click and it’s on its way. But, we break down those boxes and either put them in the recycle bin or give them to a friend who helps people move. We do have a few boxes like the one for some heirloom, collector dolls my mom has, her sewing machine, and my laptop. The thing that really gets to me is all the packaging that things come in. It seems like you can’t buy anything anymore without packaging. We have a 32 gallon recycle can just for cardboard and plastics 1 & 2. We could take it to the recycle bin 2-3 times a month. I’m trying to break us of using this stuff. Even though it can be recycled at some point it was originally a tree or oil or something.

    • I don’t shop on line, in fact I don’t shop much at all. The fact that I need to update my wardrobe is an annoyance to me. I think the ease of shopping these days is one of the main reasons blogs like mine exist. It is too easy to go on line with the intent to buy something one questionably needs and end up buying more items than intended because bargains to hard to resist were discovered in the attempt to purchase the original item.

      I have discovered, by accident, how to reduce my plastic milk bottles to about one third. I started buying full cream milk again. I find I require much less in my tea and end up buying much less milk. I don’t feel I am ingesting any extra calories or fat because I am having much less of it.

      • See money is what stops me – first the added postage (common in Aust), and then the general cost. A dollar not spent is a dollar of savings!

      • Well Colleen – I pulled all my clothes out last night in prep for the 333 – stored away most of the summer stuff, and two bags going to recycling, noticed the obvious double ups, and also noted some “gaps” that when I fill, will allow more mixing and matching.

        It is so cute – my daughter told her friends in her ballet class, and a few of them are coming over on the weekend to “help” me do the final “pick”. It was on the tip of my toungue to say I’m sure I would manage, but then I thought why not? Will get a youthful (and brutal) opinion on my clothes, and maybe will get them thinking about their own wardrobes.

        Oh and the mystery of the 27 Pashmina’s has been solved – they were never mine, a friend immigrated and asked me to store some boxes until she got settled (she never sent for them) and she shoved the pashmina’s in the square sock drawer of my husband’s scotch dresser when she was putting stuff in my wardrobe. 7 years later, I found them (he doesn’t like those square drawers) and didn’t have a clue as to where they came from. I am keeping a black, a royal blue and a red – the rest are going to Goodwill.

        • And you expect me to believe that story. 😉 😆 Just kidding. I would have chosen the red and black myself. I am not a blue person though. Red hair it can be such a pain when it comes to wearing colours. Funny thing is green is arguably the best colour for redheads but I own very little of it. I have always been a pink and red person and my wardrobe reflects that.

          • ahh redheads can pull off a red something no problems just think Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman she wore the most gorgeous red dress!

          • Teal blue and petrol blue and sea greens would look lovely with your colouring Colleen. But if you don’t like it, then no point having it.

            • Yes that sounds about right Katharine. My problem with blues is that I really think they clash with denim. Certain blues just do not go well together and I can’t abide that when I wear jeans a lot in winter. Purple doesn’t go well with denim either. Yuck!

      • Hi Colleen, I haven’t commented for a while but I’ve been reading every day! We use powdered milk and make it up as we go! It helps that we are used to it. If you are used to fresh milk it wouldn’t work. We never run out of milk and I think its cheaper too. A kilo of milk powder that makes 10 litres costs $5.99. 59.9c a litre…and the only cost of packaging is what it costs to wash the containers up plus the packet the milk comes in.

        • Yes powdered milk would be cheaper, always on hand and have less packaging but going to powdered milk is as likely to happen here as changing from butter to margarine. YUCK!!! My mother uses powdered milk but only for the cups of tea, I haven’t got the heart to tell her I don’t like it. But I don’t visit that often (she lives 1000+km away) and I figure I can just suck it up while I am there. Their company is what I go for not the cups of tea. Oh, and her cooking, YUM!!

  7. I never keep any original packaging. I don’t own too many big appliances though. And I found, it never had been a problem moving so far if I didn’t have the original boxes – I always had some boxes, some newspapers and bubble foil and that worked quite well.

    • Sanna, have you ever moved far?

      • The furthest I really took electric appliances other than my laptop with me have been about 500km – twice. I owned a printer, scanner, desktop computer (with smallish flat screen), a glass front cabinet and some other breakables at those times. But I never owned a big TV-screen at any time of my life.

        I wouldn’t mind moving further though, but maybe that’s because my granny is a master in package packing and I learnt quite well… 🙂 There’s no problem for her to pack a whole household in a 50x40x40 parcel. And she is most creative in packing without using paper or other stuffing materials: she’s stuffing with chocolate, socks, coffee or fruits (yes, fruits, and they don’t get damaged). There is not an inch air in a parcel of her and thus nothing ever breaks. For my birthday this year she sent me a cake along with cherry blossom twigs – and they were fine and blooming when I opened. I also sent delicate porcelain from Japan to Germany in a parcel by surface mail (thus on a ship for two months), not using any explicite stuffing material other than one of my scarves, just packing tightly.
        I think these packing skills are one of the weirdest but also best skills I learnt from my granny.

        Of course, you need a box though, but you can get boxes in all shapes and sizes for free at supermarkets at any time.

        However, if you don’t have as much fun as our family playing parcel tetris, I’m sure, the original packaging is the best, for sure the fastest and easiest way to go. 😉

        • I fancy myself a bit of a whiz at ebay packaging and all for free for that matter. Although one of my supply chains is closing down so I will have to find a new place to get fill for free. I get my boxes from the hardware store who has big cages full of them for that taking. Gotta love that.

          • I remember you mentioned that once. 🙂
            Me too, I rarely bought anything to wrap the more than 300 books I already sent away.
            You get an eye on what will come handy. 🙂

            Maybe “how to pack” would make a nice post as well, though I don’t know whether you can really share that skill via text only.

            I only started to consider that a special skill, when I got poorly packed (and sometimes therefore broken) items myself.

            • I have actually written about packing for ebay before including photos of my home made boxes. I will repost them soon as someone asked for just such a post last Saturday.

  8. Hi 365’ers,

    Does anyone remember PK chewing gum? Or Juicy Fruit (pellet type chewing gum) It came in a packaged sleeve that pulled the rip tab (slit paper) and gobbled the lot up! Well I did anyway. Now I buy a pkt of Extra chewing gum and I have the rip the plastic pull tab, unwrap that, slip off the rest of the plastic, flip the lid/fold thingy, pull out the liner paper, try and prise a piece of gum out and then unwrap that!!! WHAT THE!!!! hahahaha I love life xx and all the weird S*%t that sometimes goes with it 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Yep I loved Juicy Fruit!

    • They still make PK and Juicy Fruit don’t they? Here is a funny thing though, in America ~ and this would be a much better point if I could get my facts right ~ they have Wrigley’s Gum but they don’t have one of the two you mentioned. I just can’t remember which one. I think it was PK but I could be wrong. Please someone in America, help me out here.

      You can still get other gum packaged the good old fashioned way I am sure. The variety is endless now though. How much more fun were lollies in the good old days when they were all laid out behind a glass counter and you bought them by the cent, 4 for 1c sometimes. Oh I so enjoyed that part of my childhood. Grumpy old Ike in the store near my grandmothers house. Boy did we tease him by choosing slowly and he would say hurry up hurry up so we would go so fast he couldn’t keep up. Grown ups Ha!

      • Here in the U.S., we can get Juicy Fruit gum. I’ve never heard of PK. What flavor is it?

        • Good question. I haven’t had PK for such a long time. There are actually two flavours and both are kind of hot if I remember correctly. I might have to buy some to taste it as I really can’t remember. When I think of the blue pack I think wintergreen or cinnamon but it really isn’t either. The orange pack I honestly can’t describe offhand but like I said they are both kind of hotish.

      • Oh the memories of driving the shopkeeper barmy! I used to love that a 20c bag of lollies made you feel rich and you got enough to share with the street, my favourite was ‘Cobbers’ hard toffee covered in chocolate. All the lollies used to come in a box with a wax paper liner that was folded back and used as the container. No one gave a flying fig about whether or not it was contaminated by wandering night invaiders. Who the hell cared as long as you got 3 for 1c hahaha. Here’s a flashback, how many of you remember the tall skinny cans of ‘Apla’ and ‘Sunkist’ and the tetra triangle pack ice lolly called ‘Freeza’ I loved the ‘Cherry Snow’ these days those words sound like ‘drugs’! 🙂 🙂 🙂 P.S I think the flavour of P.K (orange pack) was more a mild peppermint. I’m gonna have to go and buy one aren’t I? 🙂

        • Oh I know what a cobber is, yumm. I used to love aniseed balls, bananas, tazan jubes, musk sticks, musky mints and spearmint leaves, just to name a few. Oh and Chew chew bars and black cats…
          And the shop keeper just picked them out with the bare hands and who cared. No one that’s who because we weren’t all germaphobes in those days. Life was good and simple back then.

  9. Ok just for a laugh I googled the flavours or P.K chewing gum and found out that the orangey/yellow pack of P.K is peppermint and the Blue pack of P.K was licquorice flavour “What The”. Here’s a tidbit from my memory, Juicy Fruit was sold in a little 4 pellet pack when I was a girl in England, we were only allowed chewing gum on a rare occassion but I clearly remember the ‘Sweet Shop’ in our village always displayed everything in huge glass containers even peanuts. ‘Uncle Joe’s Minty Balls’ were an all time fave ( what were they thinking with that name) and so were aniseed balls and Everton Mints, Fox’s Glacier Mints and Pear Drops a close 2nd. Aahh can taste them now! 🙂