Which is Better for Moving—Bubble Wrap or Newsprint Paper?
Whether you’re getting out of your garage to a new office downtown or starting your own moving company, you’re probably thinking of ways to cut packing costs. You must have asked yourself several times if bubble wrap or newsprint paper is better for the task. Not to worry—we wrote this article to help you figure that out.
Some Considerations When Moving Packages
Moving is just like shipping, and they only differ on a few points. In our blog, How Small Businesses Can Securely Package Items for Shipping, we brought up some points that may help readers plan an effective packing strategy for shipping. Let’s see what changes when those principles are applied instead to moving.
Note that the guidelines below apply only when you’re moving on a land vehicle. Everyone who’s ever had to fly to a different town knows that it’s much cheaper to just buy new stuff than take all your old things with you on the plane. So here it goes:
There is no big difference here, except you will probably deal with a wider variety of items in front of you than if you were shipping goods sold online. Unless you’re a hermit, expect to pack breakables, perishables, flammable substances, sharps, deformable tools, etc. Your job is to move these things without a single scratch.
Cost vs. Security
Never sacrifice security to cut costs. Although not all items you’re packing are brand new, replacing a trusted Zebra label printer will still dent your budget.
Your moving costs are straightforward. They include the items’ weight, number of fragile articles, distance and any applicable insurance. You need not worry about embellishments, but you do have to optimize your packing materials.
In retail shipping, product presentation adds to your concerns, and packaging flexibility enhances the customers’ unboxing experience. That is why you need to consider as many filler options as possible. On the other hand, cost-effectiveness is a bigger issue than appearance when moving boxes containing large office equipment or kitchenware.
Additionally, people are less likely to pack much frozen food on moving-out day. Therefore, less insulating foam is necessary.
Packing material optimization not only reduces waste but also speeds up item hauling into and out of containers. Moving boxes are typically much bigger than those for retail shipping. Therefore, they are also heavier and require more padding.
Professional moving companies use new standard-size boxes on each job. However, if you’re moving your own stuff, you can cut costs by packing non-fragile items in old boxes. We recommend using new ones on breakable goods for maximum protection. You can pack multiple items in each box, placing the heavier ones at the bottom and the lighter ones at the top.
You may be tempted to use free shipping supplies. However, using those freebies for unintended purposes is illegal and can get you in trouble.
Maximize the use of labels to organize various items. You can tag different moving boxes according to assigned locations, e. g. garage vs. utility room, as well as content fragility.
You don’t need to be very creative here. The most convenient to use and is always accessible is pressure-sensitive tape. The H-pattern is still the recommended way of closing boxes.
Before hauling out each box, write an arrow and the phrase “This side up” on every side or use preprinted stickers. This is to enhance protection for all packed items.
So these are the most important considerations when packing for a move. When you think about it, the biggest dilemma here boils down to just one.
Bubble Wrap or Newsprint Paper—Which One is Better for Moving?
It’s easy to decide what kind of moving boxes, labels and sealing tape to use. However, choosing a good filler type is critical because its material is supposed to absorb vibrations and shock on the road. You will be packing many physically dissimilar items, making cost-effectiveness a truly serious concern.
Below, we talk about the pros and cons of newsprint paper and bubble wrap so you can find out which suits your needs best.
Advantages of Newsprint Paper
Many moving companies exclusively use newsprint paper for packing. These are the advantages that they see in newsprint paper:
1. Newsprint Paper is Cheap
The primary reason for choosing this material for packing is its price. Just imagine—for the same surface area, bubble wrap is 30 times more expensive than bunched-up newsprint paper. Cost is certainly a dealmaker when moving numerous fragile packages. You can use this substance as liberally as you want to keep your stuff damage-free.
2. Newsprint Paper is More Environment-Friendly
This is because it is not only recyclable but also compostable. It will not end up clogging the drains or stifling the seas.
3. Newsprint Paper Has Comparable Horizontal Cushioning Capacity
When applied the right way, newsprint paper offers the same amount of sideways protection for breakables as bubble wrap. Avoid crumpling or rolling the material too tightly, as air pockets between the paper and the item also serve as padding.
4. Newsprint Paper is Flexible
Intact bubble wrap has a fixed thickness, whereas that of newsprint paper can be adjusted easily. The latter is also very pliable and conforms to any shape. Newsprint paper allows you to fit in more articles in the same box, helping you to economize.
5. Newsprint Paper Appears Clean
You can always use old newspapers and magazines for securing breakables, but they can leave behind smudged ink during the unpacking. In contrast, newsprint paper keeps wrapped items clean and scratch-free.
These are the reasons supporting the use of newsprint paper for moving. Below are the main counterpoints.
Disadvantages of Newsprint Paper
This material may be very cheap, but it also comes with a few setbacks.
1. Newsprint Paper Can Get Wet Easily
If you happen to move out on a rainy day, this filler will cease to be your friend as it does not protect from water leaks. Likewise, you cannot use it to pack frozen goods, toiletries, batteries and other liquids. Excess fluids can completely ruin newsprint paper.
2. Newsprint Paper Is Prone to Static Buildup
We see this in a lot of physics experiments. This material attracts electrons from the air, your clothes, nearby metals etc. and you may not notice it. Remember that static electricity can damage electronic devices and ignite flammable products, so use something else to pack them.
3. Newsprint Paper Is Heavier than Bubble Wrap
A material’s lightness is best assessed by its density—or mass per unit volume—and not mass alone. Everything that weighs 1 kilogram has the same mass, but do they occupy the same amount of space?
For a material to be considered lightweight, it must have a low density. Paper’s density is 1.2 g/cm3, whereas that of bubble wrap is 0.017 g/cm3. Therefore, for the same volume, paper weighs about 70 times as heavy as bubble wrap, and will add a lot of poundage to your moving boxes.
Nevertheless, newsprint paper is very cheap, so it offsets the costs of securing a few packages. But this does not compare to shipping pallets, where many more boxes are involved. Stuffing with foam and plastic, which are lighter, may be more cost-effective under such circumstances.
4. Newsprint Paper Compresses Easily Under Heavy Weight
Earlier, we mentioned that newsprint paper protects items sideways as well as bubble wrap can. But the story is different when gravity is taken into account. When placed under heavy items, newsprint paper flattens more easily than bubble wrap.
What moving companies do is roll multiple sheets together to reinforce a paper-fashioned bottom layer cushion. This lets them stay within budget while still safeguarding breakables.
So now that we’ve seen the advantages and disadvantages of using newsprint paper for moving, let’s check out those of bubble wrap.
Advantages of Bubble Wrap
When you think about it, this filler type may offer more benefits than paper. They are stated below.
1. Bubble Wrap Has Good Cushioning Ability in All Directions
Unlike newsprint paper, bubble wrap does not easily compress in any direction. The air pockets on its surface maintain a constant volume, and therefore cushioning power, at all times.
2. Bubble Wrap Is Water-Resistant
The plastic material makes it impenetrable to water, protecting packages through any weather.
3. Bubble Wrap Is Leak-Proof
You can use this material for wrapping liquid containers and frozen goods, as it can prevent accidental fluid leakage.
4. Bubble Wrap is Lighter in Weight
The material protects packages superbly while contributing little to their weight. Therefore, bubble wrap will not significantly raise the costs of moving heavy electronic devices, where it’s absolutely necessary to use.
5. Anti-Static Bubble Wrap Exists
Pack electronics and flammable products safely with anti-static bubble wrap. It is much better to invest in this material than buying new equipment or risking a fire during transport.
6. Bubble Wrap Is Pliable
Like newsprint paper, this plastic filler can also conform to any shape. It is easy to use when padding irregularly shaped breakables.
7. Bubble Wrap Is Recyclable
You can collect it in bundles to take to the nearest recycling plant. You may get some money for it, as well as a chance to save the environment.
8. Bubble Wrap Also Appears Clean
You can make neatly wrapped packages from this plastic filler. Additionally, it will not leave smudges or scratches on your stuff.
So now that we’ve discussed the arguments favoring the use of bubble wrap, you’re probably wondering why moving companies use it less often.
Disadvantages of Bubble Wrap
Below are the drawbacks of using this filler.
1. Bubble Wrap Is Much More Expensive
The biggest reason why the material is used less is its cost. Americans normally spend thousands of dollars moving to a new place. Their packing strategy can easily blow up or shrink their expenses.
Newsprint paper can hold up underneath heavy items for long distances. Switching to bubble wrap to pack bigger loads is just impractical. This alone trumps its other advantages.
2. It Takes More Effort to Recycle Bubble Wrap
Unless you plan to use it right away for another purpose, you must collect a large amount of this plastic before a recycling plant accepts it. Recyclables are sold by weight, and, as we mentioned above, bubble wrap is a light material.
3. Bubble Wrap Takes Up More Space
Since the material is less compressible, it will allow you to pack fewer items in one box. This is another reason why bubble wrap is less cost-effective than newsprint paper.
Regardless of these disadvantages, bubble wrap is an absolute must for packing wet goods, flammables and electronics. You just cannot do without it.
Bubble Wrap vs. Newsprint Paper: The Bottomline
Both fillers have their advantages and disadvantages, but they serve different purposes. For most items, newsprint paper will suffice when applied properly, helping you save money. Meanwhile, bubble wrap is safer to use on electronics, flammable substances and those that can leak fluids. Therefore, keeping a good supply of these two materials would be prudent.