Shipping supplies are expensive, but there are several sources of free packing and shipping supplies you can use to send products to your customers. Following are some ideas for legitimately acquiring these supplies for your small business.
Order free Priority mail supplies from USPS.com. The USPS offers several sizes of boxes and envelopes for both domestic and international shipping. The supplies may only be used for Priority mail -- you may not turn them inside out to use for other mail classes. Delivery services such as UPS and FedEx also provide some free shipping supplies
Check 24-hour retailers, such as grocery stores, convenience stores and discount stores like Walmart and Target. Visit late in the evening or in the early morning hours when the employees are stocking the shelves. You can usually have your pick of an array of free boxes, but always ask first. The employees are usually glad you will take them off their hands.
Check with local furniture stores and ask how they dispose of the heavyweight paper wrapping or bubble wrap that new furniture is wrapped in. Many times, the materials are just put outside in the dumpster. Always ask before dumpster diving on private property.
Look on FreeCycle for people giving away packing materials. FreeCycle is a recycling group -- environmentally conscious people help each other locally by advertising things they are giving away. You can find packing materials and boxes offered by people who have just moved and want to get rid of the materials.
Check Craigslist for free boxes and packing materials. Many companies post when and where to come pick up packing peanuts, boxes, and bubble wrap.
Make friends with the local deli and liquor store owners. Their boxes are small, study and perfect for media mail items like books and CDs. You can also use these small, durable boxes for international mailing.
Always ask before taking anything from a retail store, even if it's just an empty box, and always ask before dumpster diving on private property. Try to create relationships with retail stores and companies so that you can get free packing materials on a regular basis.