Before & After, Indie Business, Small-Space Solution

The Making of a Shipping Station

Make sure you read that title right. I told Ryan what I was doing the other night, and he misunderstood me at first. I guess I mumbled. Because he said “you’re doing WHAT?” Replace the “p”s in shipping with “t”s and you’ll see what I mean.

“No,” I said to Ryan. “We already have that station. It’s for the cats, and it’s hidden under the shiPPing station.”

We’re so mature.

Remember this project from last year?

I turned an awkward nook in our basement into a totally functional pet feeding station, pet pharmacy and storage area – while building a strategic (yet simple) table that hid our two cat litter boxes and served as a supposed “gift wrapping station.”

Though I loved how that project turned out, the table kept getting cluttered with stuff, because I rarely needed to use it as a “wrapping” station. Big surprise, huh? Nor did I use it as a “rapping” station. My career just wouldn’t take off.

Before: A pretty – yet useless – “wrapping” station

Recently, though, I thought up the perfect use for it: A shipping station for all the fabulous packages I’ll be preparing and shipping out when actually starts working!

So I pulled a few thrifty tricks out of my decorating sleeve, and in just an hour turned it into the perfect space for wrapping and prepping my products for shipment.

On the shelf created by the window well, I used some of my glass jars to create storage, and added a vase and a sad little potted plant to dress it up.

The lidded jar holds bits of twine and string ribbon – because every order will be shipped out wrapped in recycled tissue and wrapped in a string or ribbon, ready for gift-giving. A smaller jar, mod-podged (previously) with craft paper, holds pens, markers, and scissors.

A glass hurricane holds my packaging tape (with room for an extra roll).

On the left side of the table, I created some totally-free hanging storage for my priority mail envelopes and boxes. I took a used priority mail box that was destined for my recycling bin, and covered the exposed sides in the contact paper leftover from my coat closet “wallpapering” project.

It’s a wrap.

Then I attached it to the side of my Ikea wardrobe with 2 Command strips. I hammered a few nails through the back of the box, into the wardrobe, for extra holding strength.

Nailed it.

My recycling is well-hung.



On the other side of the table, I put my used (yet hopefully re-usable) bubble mailers in a small basket that I had on hand.

Below the table, on the shelf behind the curtain, I stashed some small cardboard boxes I’ve saved for shipping the bulkier items. On the right of the boxes, a long underbed storage box holds all my tissue paper. Below the shelf – and behind the mouse-hole door 🙂 – is the cats’ “rhymes-with-shipping” station.

Once Ryan and I buy a wireless printer (I’m assuming such a thing exists), I’ll make room for that on the shelves of the wardrobe (to the left of the table). That way I’ll be able to print my shipping labels and find them ready and waiting for me downstairs.

And just like that, my shipping station was created.

Total cost? $0.00

Now I just need to get my shop working!

I have just one question for you: As a potential customer, would you be offended if your package arrived in a previously used mailing envelope? I like to reuse them if they’re still structurally sound, simply because of the environmental impact of throwing them out after only one use.

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  • Reply Christina Leaman at 7:42 pm

    Honestly, I think it would be weird if I recognized the envelope was reused without a heads up to your values first. Maybe include something in the shipping information explaining how much recycling and up-cycling is to you and that the shipping envelopes you use are sometimes recycled/reused. Remember – not everyone who orders from you will know you and your blog so they won’t know how passionate you are about that. 

  • Reply Christina Leaman at 7:43 pm

    Also, your captions are cracking me up.


  • Reply Katie makingthishome at 8:12 pm

    I like Christina’s suggestion.  Tuck in a note that explains the used packaging – that makes it cool instead of “ewww”.

  • Reply Jackie at 8:36 pm

    if the package is in good shape and there is no chance of my product being damaged, then I wouldn’t care if the mailing envelope was reused.  

  • Reply Kelly at 8:39 pm

    Love it!  I need to do this as well.  One of the main reasons that I haven’t gotten my shop up and running successfully is because every time I need to ship a package, I run around like a chicken with its head cut off.  I don’t know why I always over complicate this stuff!  So cool that it didn’t cost a dime either.  As for the packages, I’m happy when someone uses recycled materials — but I do think it’s a nice touch when you are told ahead of time (maybe in your shop policies?) that this is what will happen and maybe give your customers a choice…?

    • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode at 1:07 pm

      Kelly, that’s exactly what happened to me when I had my Etsy shop before and
      after Christmas. Your “chicken with its head cut off” comment cracks me up
      because I can totally relate!

  • Reply Cre8tive Minxy at 9:11 pm

    In our office we re-use packaging all the time.  One of the key points is to remove all old labels etc.  Don’t worry about any writing on the boxes themselves – we often find notations from the delivery services – most people don’t notice them and won’t know they were there before you shipped anyway.
    I like the idea of including a statement say on your packing slip about recycling shipping materials.  My suggestion is to include this information on your site – say when people are checking out or when shipping charges are being figured.  I think it’s a nice touch letting them know up front.  Plus it helps support the idea of being “green.”
    BTW – I love your blog, you’re very talented and creative.

    • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode at 1:09 pm

      Thanks so much for the input and the ideas. I like the idea of having it as
      a note that people see at check-out!

  • Reply Jenn @ peas and crayons at 11:32 pm

    Big companies have re-used boxes and sent them to me..and at first I was like wahhhhht are they doing!? But paul pointed out to my judgemental but eco loving self that they were RECYCLING and I should STFU. so I did. and now i’m 100% ok with it! =)


    • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode at 1:10 pm

      Hahah. Yeah, you all have pointed out to me that I definitely need to give
      customers a heads’ up on what the heck I’m doing re-using packaging.

  • Reply Haley at 12:00 am

    If you add a chocolate to the package I am sure most people will forget all about the used shipping materials. 🙂 I think it would be fine to reuse if you put a message about it on the shipping page.

    Great use of space and good luck with the business!

  • Reply Jessica at 12:41 am

    I wouldn’t be offended at all – in fact I prefer it.  As long as it isn’t too soiled in a gross way.  Wrinkled or whatever is fine.  

  • Reply Leigh at 1:15 am

    1- the first lines made me GOL (giggle out loud)
    2-the station looks great
    3- wireless printers do exist and they rock
    4-I guess it would depend on how “used” the envelope looked, also if you used some pretty or colored tape and colorful makers I would be less likely to notice the envelope 

    • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode at 1:11 pm

      Leigh – love that you made a list. I thought I was the only one who has
      ever done that in blog comments 🙂

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  • Reply Kaybel2060 at 3:01 am

    I wouldn’t care if the packaging was re-used. And whoever’s idea it was to add chocolate to the package is a genius. Just saying 🙂

  • Reply Julie B at 6:23 am

    I have no problems with reused packaging and resuse packaging all the time for my Etsy shop.   I’ve had no complaints and I even have return customers! 

    I like the idea of the note, too.  But instead of wasting even MORE paper on an additional note, why don’t you add a little tagline on your business cards, or you can add a note to your packing slip. 

    • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode at 1:12 pm

      That’s a really good point…no point trying to be eco-friendly if I’ll use
      more paper to explain it. I have one-sided business cards, I could write it
      on the back of them. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • Reply Allie at 2:45 pm

    You are so organized! I am beyond impressed. And while I love the idea of reusing packaging–I’d want an explanation as well. I like the ideas mentioned above to include a note discussing your eco-friendliness. Without a note, I might be a little put off by old packing. And what a great way to hide a litter box!

  • Reply Maria @ Beautiful Busy Bee at 2:53 pm

    you could have like a little stamp that has a recycling sign with “REUSE” in the middle or maybe a sticker explaining why you’re sending me a used envelope, also you’d have to cover up the old addresses very well. It’s great that you’re reducing your environmental impact!

  • Reply Nellie at 3:22 pm

    Nice work! As for reusing shipping materials, perhaps you could have that as an option for your customers at checkout. Option 1 – Please be green and ship my cool new XXX in a previously used envelope or box; Option 2 – Please use a new envelope or box for me (that I will reuse at home!). I’d guess most (if not all) would choose Option 1 anyway.

  • Reply Ashley @ at 5:14 pm

    no offense would be taken here at all!  Recycling is awesome!  Some others may be offended.  Maybe you can just make a note regarding shipping, that if someone wants a “non-recycled” box, then they should shoot you a message! 🙂

  • Reply Kate at 11:07 pm

    Way to make use of that space! Looks great 🙂 I agree with everyone else: I wouldn’t mind the re-used envelope if there was a little insert about it or something, but otherwise it would seem odd. BUT with the little blurb, I would have a fabulous impression about the kind of values you have. I think it’s a great idea.

  • Reply JoDi at 2:18 am

    It wouldn’t bother me at all even without an explanation! Anyone who buys things regularly from Etsy or eBay wouldn’t be surprised by used packaging, but I agree with those who’ve said you should have a “mission” or “values” statement on your site about your environmental philosophy and your efforts to reduce waste and reuse things whenever possible. Mentioning it during the checkout process was an awesome idea too. Then people who aren’t expecting it won’t be surprised or put off  wondering why you’re not using new packaging.

  • Reply Lifeinrehab at 10:44 am

    I would have no problem with recycled shipping materials. Actually, I’d be disappointed if you didn’t recycle. And that station should make getting products out the door a whole lot more convenient.

  • Reply Robin at 2:29 am

    I love your reuse of the “wrapping” station. My roommate runs her business from our apartment and has one as well. (She also has a wireless printer for labels and scanning and such, so you are correct that such a thing exists! 🙂 ).

    I think reusing packaging supplies goes with the ethos of your work- recycled! I think it fits with the overall theme of your business and I don’t see any harm in it.

  • Reply Janery Shop Launched! « A Nest in the Making at 2:54 pm

    […] and it was really interesting to see what goes in to setting up your home based business. From branding and logo design to setting up a shipping station, Jane covers it all. It’s so exciting to see all of that […]

  • Reply Magnoliachica at 1:37 am

    I always love it when someone sends me something in a reused envelope. 

  • Reply Kristi @ A Nest in the Making at 1:29 am

    test (mozilla home)

  • Reply Kristi @ A Nest in the Making at 1:32 am

    test (IE home)

  • Reply Sarah in Indiana at 5:50 am

    Jumping into this discussion a little late, but I think a cute 3Re stamp and explaining your philosophy on your etsy site are great ideas, as is reusing packaging. But as much as I love chocolate (a LOT) adding it to your packages might not be such a hot idea. Because melty chocolate plus pretty fabric could get ugly.

  • Reply 8 Steps to Take Before Launching an Etsy Shop {Handmade Business 101}The Borrowed Abode | The Borrowed Abode at 8:59 am

    […] up a small shipping station in your home, even if it’s a box you slide under your bed when not in use.  If your product […]

  • Reply HeatherVintage88 at 12:26 pm

    Thank you for the help! Now my shipping is organized because of you! 🙂

    • Reply Jane at 1:06 pm

      That’s awesome – I’m so glad I could help! Thanks!

  • Reply Kaitlyn at 1:35 pm

    Your shipping station looks great! FREE? You can’t beat that cost! I really like when you can re-purpose items in your home; it’s the best feeling!

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