Padded envelopes, commonly known by the brand name Jiffy Bags, present us with one of those ‘mixed material’ recycling conundrums. Despite their paper exterior, the plastic bubble padding inside means that we can’t put them in with our standard recycling as is. So how can we reuse padded envelopes?
To recycle them, we need to separate the plastic from the paper by ripping out their innards! The outer can go in with paper and card recycling, but for the inner check your local council’s website.
Check the nearby Recycling tab on your Greenredeem account page for local plastic recycling information.
Before you start enthusiastically disembowelling your Jiffy Bags, ask yourself if it might be at all possible to use them again. Unless they’re completely full-of-holes, raggedy or stained, eco-wise it’s far better to find a second life for those padded envelopes. Here are a few tips to get you started, beginning with the simplest…
1. Keep them to reuse for posting
No, it’s not rocket science, but it’s worth saying!
Start a ‘packaging reuse’ collection, perhaps where you keep the stamps, pens and other stationery and send those useful padded envelopes back into the world again.
Securely tape a sheet of paper over the old address details in order to create a nice blank canvas.
2. Give batches away or sell them
New padded envelopes aren’t cheap, so there’s plenty of demand for lightly used ones from people who do large amounts of posting. If you’re decluttering, offer your Jiffy Bags to local folk via the Freegle or Freecycle networks, or, for a few extra pennies, try selling them on eBay.
3. Store and pack fragile items
Give Christmas decorations and other treasures that you only pull out from time to time a bit of extra protection by storing them in padded envelopes. When it comes to packing a suitcase or even moving house, a supply of old Jiffy Bags can be invaluable for keeping delicate and breakable items in good shape.
4. Use them as cheap and cheerful insulation
As with ordinary bubble wrap, the trapped air that provides the protection inside padded envelopes makes for a wonderfully effective insulator. Whilst we’re not suggesting you insulate your loft with these, a well-deployed Jiffy Bag or three can help keep the chill from sheds, garages or even outdoor pipes. For example, try taping a large padded envelope over your garden tap to help prevent freezing during the winter.
5. Let your cat play with them
Apparently many cats are deeply enamoured of padded envelopes, which makes sense… A satisfying surface on which to sharpen claws, a dark cosy place to explore and a comfy sleep pad.
If your raggedy Jiffy Bag is nearing recycle time, why not give your cat a play treat first?