Wednesday, June 11, 2008


There are things I love, like creating my art, and the little thrill when someone else likes it enough to buy it.

Some things I don't love so much, like holding my breath, waiting to see if my packing job was good enough. Shipping glass...ooh, the tension, the worry.

I wrap everything in layers of bubble wrap, put styrofoam chunks between what I'm mailing and the wall of the box, slide my hands down the insides of the carton on all sides, making sure there's plenty of padding--anything, whatever it takes to make sure it arrives safely.

But I'm also aware that bubble wrap isn't exactly free, and that it's not exactly friendly to the environment. A friend who used to work in the shipping department of a china company once told me there was nothing as good as old clothes for wrapping dishes in to mail, but I've hesitated to use it. What would people think, finding their purchase wrapped in my old sweatshirt? Hmm.

I wrapped four Mega Blossoms to mail yesterday, and after they were bundled into the bubble wrap and put in the box, I was faced with a substantial amount of empty. What was I going to fill that with? I didn't want to use up all my bubble wrap, but nothing was more important than a safe trip for the Blossoms.

Isn't it great when a good idea lights up your brain? I have new packing material, free, and recycled.

Start with a stack of newspaper, and the plastic sleeve it came in. (That's for if you live in places like this, where it rains so much wrapping a morning-delivery paper in plastic is pretty much mandatory.) If you don't have those plastic sleeves, any airtight plastic bag will do, such as a produce bag from the grocery store.

The materials

Crumpled and stuffed

Crumple sheets of newspaper and stuff them into the bags. Tie a knot in the bag, which will trap air. Now you have newpaper that isn't going to shift around in the box, and won't get compressed because you've basically got a newspaper-stuffed balloon now.


I'll still wrap whatever article I'm shipping in bubble wrap to begin with, but I'm happy to know there's a cheap, green, way to provide the additional padding it needs.

The other tip isn't visual.

When I sell a China or Mega Blossom, a stem goes with it. I charge $8 to ship one Blossom and stem, which isn't as much as it actually costs. I'm afraid if I had to charge as much as it cost, nobody would even order one! Best case scenario for me is when someone orders more than one. I discount the second shipping to $5, and the combined shipping is now almost as much as what I'll pay, if you don't count the box and/or bubble wrap.

One of the reasons it's been so expensive is that the USPS nails you with a $4 surcharge for any package longer than 34 inches, and the stems are 35-36".

One day recently, the term "square the hypotenuse" popped into my head. (Lol, I love saying that, "Square the hypotenuse!") Yes, but what did that mean? Oh! Oh! Put the stems on a flat rectangle of cardboard, on the diagonal! How wide would the cardboard need to be, to bring the length of the package under that 34" limit?

Turns out you can get it down to 32" with a piece of cardboard 16" wide, and not only do you save the $4 surcharge, you can now send it Priority Mail for about what Parcel Post now costs. Before, not only could it not be sent Priority, but, a clerk at the post office confided, because it was an unusual size, it took even longer than the usual Parcel Post, up to ten days. Whoo-hoo! Two days instead of ten is GREAT.

Well, okay. My second tip probably isn't of much use to anyone but me, but I'm still very, very happy (and feel amazingly intelligent, lol) for having thought of it.

Time to get busy. My uncle is having brain surgery today. We've lost my dad, two friends, and a beloved aunt since mid-December. Mama is practically frantic, and is coming into town to spend the night, so we can visit Uncle Darrell in the hospital this evening and tomorrow. (I'm just repeating the mantra: He'll be okay. He'll be okay.) I have some serious housecleaning to do before Mama gets here. Culture shock is my neatnik Mama dropping in on an unprepared me!


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