You’re probably familiar with traditional packing peanuts; the small, squishy Styrofoam pieces that are used to fill boxes. As a shipping item, packing peanuts are quite helpful. Not only do these versatile bits provide protection for fragile items, they’re also a sturdy void filler that immobilizes and keeps items from shifting inside a box without adding extra weight. In many cases, packing peanuts are a must-have when you’re packing oddly shaped and fragile items like vases and collectibles for moving or shipping.
The Problem with Styrofoam Packing Peanuts
Traditional packing peanuts are often made from polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam. Although this material can be useful, it’s known to be harmful to humans and the environment. Select cities worldwide have even banned certain polystyrene items because of the negative impact the material has on the environment. Particularly, the manufacturing process produces harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that pollute the air. After it’s manufactured, polystyrene takes hundreds to thousands of years to decompose, so it often ends up littering oceans, forests, and our own communities after it's thrown away.
The good news is there is an alternative that’s safe for you, your belongings, and the environment. Biodegradable packing peanuts are an eco-friendly packaging solution that offers the same advantages as Styrofoam packing peanuts, only it’s 100% non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
Eco-Friendly Packing Peanuts by the Numbers
Biodegradable packing peanuts aren’t a new concept. As a leader in DIY moving, U-Haul has offered eco-friendly packing peanuts as an affordable alternative to traditional packing peanuts since 1993. Nearly two decades later, the versatile void fillers have had a measurable and positive impact:
- Since 1993, customers who choose U-Haul Peanut Pak™ have kept 7.7 million cubic feet of Styrofoam out of landfills
- Each year, customers who choose U-Haul Peanut Pak™ keep 600,000 cubic feet of Styrofoam out of landfills
- For reference, 7.7 million cubic feet is larger than 140 railroad boxcars
What Are Biodegradable Packing Peanuts Made Out Of?
Biodegradable packing peanuts – sometimes called dissolvable packing peanuts – are made of plant-based materials. For maximum eco-friendliness, U-Haul packing peanuts are made from corn starch and potato starch. Not only does this simple and natural formula have minimal environmental impact, but it also makes packing peanuts 100% non-toxic for people.
U-Haul's plant-based formula also means these peanuts will dissolve in water. Even without moisture, dissolvable packing peanuts decompose in a matter of days in some cases. Unlike foam peanuts, biodegradable packing peanuts will never end up polluting the ocean or any other natural environment since they don’t contain any non-biodegradable materials.
Can You Eat Packing Peanuts?
People often wonder if you can eat biodegradable packing peanuts. The answer is, yes, dissolvable packing peanuts are completely edible and non-toxic. If a pet or small child (or anyone who’s curious) gets their hands on one, there’s no need to worry. Biodegradable packing peanuts are 100% safe to ingest, by accident or otherwise.
How to Pack Fragile Items With Packing Peanuts
Packing peanuts are best used as a void or packing filler while shipping or moving items in cardboard boxes. Filling gaps immobilizes items during transit and prevents shifting that often leads to cracked, chipped, or scuffed belongings. Packing peanuts are especially effective when used with oddly shaped items like lamps, holiday figurines, crystal vases, and other fragile ornaments and decorations that are difficult to wrap in a protective material, like packing paper.
To get the most out of your packing peanuts:
2. Start by filling the box about halfway with packing peanuts, then firmly ineert your item(s) into that first layer of peanuts. Use the peanuts to fill empty spaces where possible (the peanuts will conform to your item).
3. Fill the remaining empty space with packing peanuts and firmly press down on the second and final layer. The goal is to immobilize your item in the box as much as possible by ensuring the gaps around the item are filled.
Biodegradable Packing Peanuts: The Advantages
In addition to being safe for the environment, biodegradable packing peanuts have other useful advantages over traditional packing supplies that you should consider.
Biodegradable packing peanuts are an anti-static, dust free, and scratch-resistant packing material so they’re safe to use with computers, laptops, monitors, and other valuable electronics.
Biodegradable packing peanuts are reusable so you can take pride in contributing to a more sustainable future less reliant on single-use waste, like plastic and polystyrene, when you fill your boxes.
One bag of U-Haul Biodegradable Packing Peanuts weighs less than one pound and fills an entire U-Haul Small Moving Box. That’s a lot of void filler without much added weight to your box.
Those with a green thumb can use leftover biodegradable packing peanuts as compost and for added sustainability benefits. Note: they tend to decompose quicker in humid and warmer climates.
Unlike moving blankets or bubble cushion, packing peanuts can be used to pack boxes of all shapes and sizes. Simply use more peanuts to fill medium and large sized boxes, and less to fill small boxes.
Where Can You Buy Packing Peanuts?
You can buy biodegradable packing peanuts most places you can find moving or shipping supplies. That includes the thousands of U-Haul centers across the U.S. and Canada. You can also order dissolvable packing peanuts online and have them shipped to your doorstep or pick them up from a U-Haul near you. Same-Day Delivery is available in most United States metro areas and suburbs for added convenience. Order your biodegradable packing peanuts and other essential packing supplies today, and start working for a cleaner, more sustainable tomorrow!
Check out our helpful guide on The Best Protective Packing Materials for Moving to learn more.