Does anyone not like to pop bubble wrap? Introduced in 1960 by the Sealed Air Corporation, bubble wrap – that is, the popping thereof – has been used as a stress reliever, a toddler-distracter, an annoyer. But most of us just use bubble wrap to cushion our fragile items for moving or shipping. Popping the bubbles is a bonus (if an addictive one). The problem with bubble wrap is that approximately 95% of it ends up in landfills. Now, some forms of bubble wrap are biodegradable. U-Haul sells one called “EnviroBubble” which will degrade over time when exposed to sun and/or moisture. Clearly, sending biodegradable plastic to landfills is preferable to non-biodegradable.
However, like much plastic, bubble wrap can be recycled. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize this and simply throw it away. Most recycling centers will take bubble wrap, even if they don’t advertise this fact. The Sealed Air Corporation itself has six centers (none in Georgia) that will take back and recycle used bubble wrap.
Best of all, it is quite possible to creatively re-use bubble wrap – if you don’t pop it! Some examples:
• Wrap plants on your balcony or patio to insulate and protect them from the cold and frost.
• Insulate windows in your garage or attic during colder months.
• Place it in the bottom of the produce drawer in the fridge to protect fruits and vegetables from bruising.
• For birthdays and the holiday season, reuse bubble wrap to ship or wrap fragile items.
• For picnics on warm days, wrap foods that must stay cool in bubble wrap and then place them in a cooler to keep them extra chilly.(1)
• Lay it on the floor near doors and windows as a burglar alarm.
• Use it as insulation in an outdoor doghouse.
• It makes a fun placemat for children.
• It can even be used as an emergency splint for a broken limb.(2)
My company reuses industrial bubble wrap – the kind that furniture is wrapped in for delivery – as padding for its laptop cases. Unlike most bubble wrap, its bubbles are virtually unpoppable; not much fun, perhaps, but better for protecting fragile computers. It is always challenging to find the bubble wrap: We know it’s out there, but there’s no clear system for assembling and distributing it to people or companies who can use it. If you’re a furniture delivery company, or someone who’s just received a load of furniture, and don’t know what to do with the used bubble wrap, feel free to contact us; we’ll be happy to take it off your hands.
Want more ideas for reusing bubble wrap? Just google it; there are more creative ideas out there than you can imagine. And if you yourself are feeling creative, you might want to participate in next year’s “Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day.” Sponsored by Sealed Air and held on the last Monday in January, the day features sculpture and design contests using its product.
By the way, if you want to reuse your bubble wrap but don’t want to miss the fun of popping the bubbles, go to http://www.bubblewrapfun.com/assets/games/bubblePop.html and play the on-line popping game!
1- http://austin.movingtoanapartment.com/moving-tips/what-you-need-to-know-about-bubble-wrap.htm, Oct. 10, 2008
2- http://www.ehow.com/about_6370623_bubble-wrap.html, April 22, 2010
For more information contact Janet Michal from WrapCycle
Phone: 404 219 1980