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Using plastic grocery bags to pack fragiles

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We recently moved across the county on a super tight budget, and when it came to packing up my kitchen I was wondering how in the world I was going to keep it all from getting broken. I have so many glass bowls, and we've got quite a few place settings since I tend to feed lots of people.

And then, AN IDEA! We had two paper grocery bags stuffed full of plastic bags I've been hoarding over the years. I had been thinking about taking them to Kroger and getting them recycled so we didn't have to drag them with us, but this turned out to work so much better!

The pictures should give you a good idea of how it goes, but these are the basic steps:
  1. Drag all the plastic bags out from your cabinets/drawers/closets/etc
  2. Get a box. Lay down a couple plastic bags on the bottom of the box, or if you have some, extra towels or an old shirt
  3. Lay a plastic bag on the floor, and place your largest bowl in the middle of it.
  4. Fold the edges of the plastic bag up over the edges of the bowl so some of it is resting inside.
  5. Do the same with a smaller bowl - place the plastic bag under the bottom, pull the bag edges over the edge of the bowl
  6. Place the smaller bowl in the larger bowl!
  7. Continue until you have a nicely organized stack - it should look like the first photo!
Do exactly the same thing with plates and cups - just put the bag under it and then pull it up over the sides of the object you're stacking. I forgot to get photos of that part. I was rushing a little. ;)

The goal here is to keep the bowls/cups/plates/whatever to keep from clinking against one another, because that is what will cause breakage! Check as you go by shaking the box slightly to see if anything is clinking - if it is, locate it and add another plastic bag! On a couple of my giant mixing bowls I had to use two layers because the next size down was much smaller.

Once you've got stacks of items, try to pack them very tightly in the box. You can see in the main photo I've got three different stacks of bowls in one box with very little space left open. Wad/roll up extra plastic bags and stick them between the stacks of bowls and also between the bowls and the sides of the box. :)

You can also use newspaper/spam ads - they make great packing material.

Another important thing to do to keep your things from breaking is to pack the boxes all the way to the top and fill in all the empty space with plastic bags or cloth. I packed my fragiles in the bottom of all of my boxes, and then packed the top layer with things that couldn't break - plastic storage containers, utensils, cutlery wrapped in paper bags, towels, old shirts, etc. Plastic lids worked really well to keep the fragile stuff from smacking the side of the box!

I am happy to report that I packed my entire kitchen this way and not a single thing broke on the 2,000 mile journey in a shipping container! (But yet the last minute things we had to throw in the car tended to get pretty busted. I broke a lamp and a clock!) I think I'm going to continue to pack like this forever. I stashed the plastic bags once I unpacked so I can use them for next time! :D

And apologies for the terrible photos - I did lots of midnight packing. I couldn't be bothered. :P
valkgurl1 year ago
I ship fragile things all the time and use whatever is handy to do it--if you have time ask around to places like the local gift shop or anyplace that gets fragile things shipped to THEM. They often have excess bubble wrap; peanuts' pre-cut cardboard; shredded paper that they would be HAPPY for you to take. We have also found places that put this out on trash days!

Another good "tip" is: plastic soda bottles. Yeah I know but there are about a billion of them out there and we might as well re-use before we recycle. I didn't say YOU had to drink the stuff!!!! Use these---fully inflated and with caps TIGHTLY on--for "corner blocks" or even to fully line the sides or sides AND bottom/top of a box with something really fragile or awkwardly shaped. If you need to tape them together to make a "wall" of air. These do the same thing as those air pillows but are much sturdier...the only time I had something break in shipment was when I used those air pillows and it deflated.

Other useful items to help save your stuff:
Mattress foam toppers cut to fit. Wine boxes. Disposable foam picnic plates and cups to go between plates and bowls and glasses for more padding than coffee filters. Pack your small things INSIDE Tupperware etc for more protection. Hard styrofoam can be cut with a bread knife to fit around things in a box. IF you have time pre-cut sheets of cardboard from cereal boxes etc for the same thing or for making compartments in boxes. And for packing together picture frames--use the sturdiest cardboard on the outside and band them together with a brown paper or other NON MARKING wrapper to make a sturdy bundle--much safer than one picture alone.

And winnow thru your stuff--is it really worth it to ship all of these old shampoo bottles? Ya know what I mean! One guy I know had to move and had to have some one else pack his stuff and the co packed and wrapped the TRASH CANS--the FULL trash cans!!!!!!

If you DO use your clothing and towels etc to pack with make sure you have enough at the end of the move to wear and use while you unpack!

Keep a "master list" to make sure you got all of your stuff---and do pics of ANYTHING fragile or expensive in case you need to prove the stuff was not broken when you packed it. Double check the weight on your truck by having them drive to a PUBLIC SCALE so you will not be overcharged--amazing how often that happens. I dunno how this works with containers but maybe some one else knows about that.

Also tying your wadded up plastic bags into "bundles" is useful to know what bags have stuff inside--and which ones don't. Saves time unpacking and again can be somewhat done in advance. You can also tie peanuts into a bag to save on shifting and clean up at both ends.

And sometimes it IS worthwhile spending a few $$$ on the extra heavy duty boxes from storage places---even Walmart has some that are roomy and sturdy and can be re-used after the move.

And do not waste your time on the thin brown "packing tape". It shreds and is useless for a lot of surfaces. Get in the habit of having a single edge razor blade to cut with and THEN use that to keep the unrolled edge of the tape from sticking back onto the roll. If for some reason you don't have razor blades or you have to pack with small kids around make it your new religion to FOLD THE EDGE OF THE TAPE OVER AS SOON AS YOU CUT IT. Then we will allow you to use box cutters or Swiss knives. But ONLY then!!!!

I have been doing the same thing for years when shipping ebay items. It is very easy to build up a few trash bags full of those grocery bags for whenever you need to ship. They seem to be the proper density for packing also.

I only had one person every complain....I believe her words were "very classy".
Servelan1 year ago
After recently moving everything out of our house so we could tear it down (without anything breaking), I would like to add my $.02: double up your grocery bags, don't put small fragile things in with large clunky things that could shift and break them, and be generous with packing materials. You can also use coffee filters between plates and bowls, although dish packs from storage places are worth the price for your 'good' dishes.

Socks, t-shirts and other soft things are also good for padding between objects or stacks of objects. Do not, however, do as my BIL did with some collectibles and put them in the toes of socks; too hard to get out.

If you can, move all your most breakable things yourself.

And - from my mother - LABEL EVERYTHING. You will amaze yourself at the things you'll find in boxes packed at the tail end of preparing to move...and be annoyed when you can't find what you want. Unfortunately, I speak from no small amount of experience on that subject. : /
That's a clever idea, and a great way to re-use those pesky grocery bags! Thanks for sharing this. (And the pictures weren't terrible. They were actually pretty good for someone in the middle of a move). ;-)
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