Bubble wrap is not the most eco-friendly packing material although it’s used frequently because of its transparency and cushioning. It’s also been used for a very, very long time. Bubble wrap is made from non-biodegradable plastic and is among the various product packaging materials companies are moving away from.
Thankfully, with the rise of tech and increased importance placed on the environmental sustainability of what companies use to package, there are a variety of bubble wrap alternatives to contemplate. Here are the top 13 best bubble wrap alternatives in the market:
1. Old clothes
Old clothes can be used to fill space in a box and provide some cushion to protect breakables. Available for long-distance shipping, old clothes can be cut and/or shredded into small pieces. This way, you can fit them into spaces wherever they need to be. They’re safe to use, are biodegradable, and reusable.
2. Mushroom packaging
Mushroom packaging has been called the ‘future of packaging’ by some in the packaging industry. Ideal for small items, this is packaging made from mushroom roots which have been cleaned and dried. They are sometimes fused with agricultural waste like cotton. Mushroom packaging is known to degrade after a short time, at which point, it can be composed.
3. Air peanuts
Biodegradable air peanuts can provide adequate support for loose-fill products and shipping cartons. Light and breathable, as the peanuts decompose, they turn into organic matter which makes them an excellent eco-friendly solution. Cost-effective, biodegradable peanuts don’t generally affect human consumption demands and are reusable as an added bonus.
Seaweed is primarily used in packaging food items as it’s a safe packaging material for this purpose. That said, seaweed packaging has been gaining popularity worldwide with a number of benefits including widespread availability, inexpensive production costs, and like some other bubble wrap-like entries on this list, seaweed easily degrades after use.
Surprising to some, cornstarch is an eco-friendly bubble wrap alternative which is both organic and biodegradable. Cornstarch is made from maize plants, has plastic-like feature, and will perhaps most important protect your product as it’s shipped over long distances. This type of packaging is particularly safe for food items, is inexpensive, and relatively easy to obtain.
Yes, some companies and individuals who are regularly packaging and shipping items are employing newspapers in the place of bubble wrap. It’s very inexpensive if you already buy newspapers, are a nice way to reuse them, and they can be reused again and again if need be. When a product is wrapped properly in newspaper, they provide a great cushion for them.
If you don’t have a wealth of newspaper or other papers lying around, you can use magazines instead. Shred them into small pieces and put your magazines to use! They’re generally made from biodegradable materials, decompose very fast, and can save on the cost of purchasing bubble wrap or a similar product.
8. Air pillows
Inflatable air pillows will cushion and fill the void in boxes and cartons, helping to cushion fragile products. Numerous air pillows are available to choose from for your bubble wrap alternative. Generally, they are bought empty and will need to be inflated prior to use. Made from biodegradable material, air pillows are also recyclable and reusable.
Bagasse is a product derived from sugar and the sugarcane plant. It can be used on its own or with cotton. It’s relatively inexpensive and can be purchased direct from a sugar production company. Bagasse decomposes easily, which means it can generally be used only up to three times before its performance starts to go down and decomposition sets in.
10. Paper or cardboard
Paper or cardboard packaging are ideal bubble wrap alternatives as they are recyclable and reusable, in addition to being readily available. A lot of manufacturing companies will protect product using paper and cardboard as it’s safe, effective, and very eco-friendly. If you’re uncomfortable continuing to use bubble wrap, paper or cardboard boxes are likely the next best bubble wrap alternatives.
11. Biodegradable materials
As an alternative to bubble wrap, there is biodegradable plastic available. This plastic type decomposes only after exposure to sunlight. These plastics will generally last two years prior to decomposing. That said, these are one of the more expensive considerations on this list as chemicals are required in their processing.
Another type of popular biodegradable alternative is palm fiber. This material is extremely soft, making it a very intelligent choice for packaging and shipping fragile materials or products. Bubble wrap would normally be employed to protect these items but one will find that palm fiber works just as well. Palm fiber is taken from palm trees, dried and then manufactured into packaging. It’s an all-natural process with no chemicals used to make it.
Glass can be a decent replacement in packaging for bubble wrap. Food and drinks work well with glass. It’s clean, recyclable, reusable, and does not pollute. Unfortunately, glass can be expensive although its performance is top notch. It will protect products from damages, water, keep them from expiring or going bad, and is also ideal for packaging liquids.