How to Find Free Packing Supplies

Christa Baxter
Researcher & Writer
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Published on August 26, 2016
4 min read
packing tape box

You have plenty of costs to worry about with that upcoming move—the cost of new furniture, movers’ fees, and deposits for your new home can really add up, so staying within budget is a challenge. Whether you’re going the DIY route or have some moving help, you could be saving money by securing some free packing supplies. From oversized cardboard boxes to bubble wrap, you can find several resources for free packing supplies right in your neighborhood. Here’s how to get some of your moving and packing supplies without paying a cent:

Freecycling and dumpster diving

Find a Freecycle group

Freecycle groups are popping up all over the country. Freecycle is a nonprofit movement that encourages people to join a community where they exchange all sorts of items for free. Volunteers moderate the groups, and you can post a “wanted” request with a few details about the types of packing supplies you are looking for and when you need them. Members might also post offers for everything from moving boxes to rolls of packing tape they no longer need.

Do a dumpster dive

You don’t have to get your hands too dirty to secure some free packing supplies, but you will need to be ready to dig through a dumpster or recycling bin in your neighborhood. Some of your neighbors may have extra boxes, newspapers, and other materials that you can use when packing. Ask around to see if anybody will set these aside for you before throwing them into the dumpster.

Order free boxes from the United States Postal Service

Free Moving Boxes from USPS

The USPS provides free shipping boxes for customers who plan on shipping items via Priority Mail. If you need to pack a few smaller items and have run out of boxes, you can have a set of these boxes shipped to you free of charge. You’ll find a variety of boxes in different sizes and don’t even have to make a run to the post office for pickup. You could order a stack of these boxes for your move and then hold on to them so that you can ship items using Priority Mail service when the need arises.

Check with local businesses

Contact stores going out of business

If you come across any stores in your area advertising that they are going out of business, get in touch with the store owner to see if you can take some larger boxes and other packing materials off their hands. Many are looking to liquidate and shuttle everything out of their stores as quickly as possible, so they will be happy to set aside boxes and any packing supplies they no longer need, including items like packing peanuts, corrugated packing paper, and bubble wrap.

Check out furniture stores

Many furniture stores have an excess of large boxes and packing supplies, such as bubble wrap, styrofoam, and wrapping paper. You’ll need many of these items in small quantities to wrap fragile items and stack everything safely and securely in boxes. Give your local furniture store a call to speak with the general manager and coordinate a pickup. Many stores will be happy to set aside a few items for you—all you have to do is ask.

Check in with grocery stores

Grocery stores are much like furniture stores in that they receive large quantities of boxes and packing materials on delivery day. Some simply throw these items out or find a way to reuse them. You may be able to pick up a stack of sturdy boxes and packing materials for your upcoming move by talking to a store manager. Just make sure to ask about the store’s delivery schedule—many grocery stores, for example, handle deliveries very early in the morning before the store opens, so you will need to schedule your pickup time accordingly.

Talk to wineries, breweries, and liquor stores

Winemakers, wine sellers, brewpub owners, and liquor store operators all make use of very sturdy cardboard boxes and quality packing materials to take care of bottles and other items during transit. The boxes and packing materials used at these venues are designed to carry bottles and more fragile items, so you could find everything you need to pack up your glassware, dishes, and other kitchen items. Consider calling some wineries and breweries in the area to find out if you can schedule a pickup of extra materials.

Call automotive body shops and garages

Car parts, boxes of paint, and other larger items make their way to automotive body shops and garages throughout the week. These items have to be shipped very carefully in sturdy boxes with all types of packing materials securing them in place. You can use these types of boxes to pack small furniture items, small electronics, computers, and heavier items such as books. Reach out to a body shop or garage owners to see if they have any extra boxes or packing materials.

Utilize community resources and social media

Find Free Packing Supplies on a Community Board

Request supplies on a community bulletin board

If you live in an apartment community or are part of a neighborhood organization or church, you may be able to post a request for free packing supplies on the community bulletin board. Friendly neighbors and acquaintances may have a stack of boxes or other moving supplies available.

Post a request on Facebook

If you have a large network of friends and family on Facebook, let everyone know you are moving soon and are looking for supplies. Some of your Facebook friends may have extra boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, and other packing items for you to pick up when you need them—or know someone who has these items available to give away. It doesn't hurt to ask, and you may be surprised at how many people connect with you to help.

Finding free packing supplies may not seem like an easy task, but you do have many resources available to coordinate your move on a budget. Plan on making a few calls to local business owners and digging around your neighborhood for boxes and moving essentials. A little planning may be all it takes to cut out the cost of supplies from your moving budget.

Christa Baxter
Written by
Christa Baxter
Christa Baxter has worked as an editor for more than eight years and specialized in moving content for the last three. She leads the content team in producing whip-smart moving tips and recs. After relocating four times in the last calendar year, she’s got strong opinions about moving best practices. (Just don’t ever pull a Marie Kondo and suggest she whittle down her personal library.) She earned a BA and MA in English with a minor in editing.