Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Well-Traveled Envelope Challenge

A few months ago, Gavin from Baseball Card Breakdown posted a handy guide on how to pack and ship cards safely and cheaply.

One of his suggestions was to reuse as much packing material as possibleenvelopes, top loaders, painter's tape, bubble wrap, etc.

I finished reading the post, and started thinking: Why don't we start a challenge where bloggers try to reuse the same envelope and supplies as many times as possible when sending cards to one another? It would be fun, it's good for the environment, we'd improve our card-packing skills, and we'd even save a little money. That's a win all around.

Well, a few months have passed, and I say it's time we give it a try. Since Gavin's post was the impetus for this challenge, I'm going to start off by sending him some cards he needs. Then he'll use the same bubble mailer and supplies to send some cards to another blogger, and so on. It'll be fun to track the envelope as it makes its way around the country (or possibly countries?).

Because you might one day be a recipient of the esteemed and well-traveled envelope, here are some tips that will keep the streak going:

(1) To open it and remove your cards, use a pair of scissors to cut the finest line possible across one end, as shown. Better yet, if you've got an x-acto knife or box cutter, just make a cut across the top edge where the previous blogger taped the envelope closed. That will keep the envelope from getting smaller each time it's used.

(2) To pack up your outgoing cards, place them in the same team bag that your incoming cards arrived in, sandwich them between the same top-loaders your incoming cards were sandwiched between, and seal the sides with painter's tape. (As Gavin mentioned in his tips, a pull-tab on each strip of tape is a nice touch.) You can use more supplies if you have more cards to send.

(3) Add your information to the tracking sheet so we can keep a running tab on just how far the envelope has traveled as the challenge continues.

(4) If the previous blogger affixed a mailing label to the envelope using clear tape, try to carefully remove it. If it peels off, that's great. If not, you can try using the edge of a pair of scissors to start a little cut on the angle (going through the tape, but not the bubble mailer), and then peel from there. You can also try to peel off the USPS tracking number and postage stickers. If any of that proves too difficult or frustrating, you can tape your new mailing label on top of the old one. But let's try to avoid too much label build-up.

(5) Once your new mailing label is on, place the cards and the tracking sheet inside the envelope and reseal the open edge carefully.

(6) Post an update on your blog! Feel free to include images of the cards you received and mention who sent them. Also mention which blogger you're sending some cards to next. (Let's keep the specific mailing addresses private, though.)

For starters, I'd like to put a one-year time frame on this. If momentum is still strong after thatand if the envelope is still holding togetherwe can just keep going.

There are no specific rules on card quantity, and it doesn't have to be a trade. If you know a blogger you just want to send some cards to, that's fine. (Generosity among this community won't be a problem, that's for sure.) You can even reach out to a blogger you've never interacted with. Maybe you can help them with their want lists.

All that being said, the first shipment is on its way to you, Gavin!

Looking forward to this, everyone.

P.S.Leave a comment below if you want to be part of the challenge. That will give Gavin some ideas on who to send cards to next.


  1. That's a cool concept. I've been known to reuse bubble mailers. I've purchased a toploader in my life, all of them I send out in trade are reused.

  2. Fun idea! It reminds me of something that I can't quite remember at the moment (so why mention it, right?), but this is the sort of thing that most card bloggers would probably enjoy being a part of.

  3. Although it hasn't involved reusing the shipping materials some years back on the TCC (Trading Card Central) forum there were a few "Chain" package threads. There was a list of members who were participating in the chain. The first member sent a batch of cards, the next person picked out which cards they wanted to keep, added at least the same amount of new cards equal to the number he took, sent the batch of cards to the next person on the list. When the package reached the final person on the list they sent it back to the first person. So the person who started the chain may have been stuck with some unwanted cards, but most people received at least one card they wanted or needed. A few incarnations were done, a few of them were completed but also a few just fizzled out.

    Also back in 2013 I tried a similar thing with my RAC Card "Random Acts of Cardness" in an outgoing package (for a contest winner) I had placed one of those blank decoy cards that I marked up as the RAC card with instructions on the back to email me when you received the RAC card to track where it had gone and to send on to another blogger or collector. I had started the card out around late spring early summer with the idea that at the end of the year whoever still had the card would then send it back to me. It went to 4 or 5 people (including going overseas to Portugal) before it just sort of fizzled out somewhere in Illinois I think.

    1. I was going to put the link to my RAC card posts but got a little side tracked while making my reply and accidentally hitting some random key on my laptop that moved my cursor to a weird place in my reply and some of it was starting to get deleted because I was typing over what was already there. I hate when that happens. So hopefully here is the link to my RAC card labels on my blog

  4. There was a time when I kept any decent padded mailers I had received... but the problem is I only ship cards two, three, or four times a year... so the mailers started piling up and cluttering my office. Now the only ones I keep are the ones that the labels come off really cleanly.

    Cool concept though. It'll be fun to track this mailer and see how many bloggers are able to reuse it.

  5. Sounds like a fun concept, would be happy to join. I always re-use mailers. Usually I just tear into the envelope without thinking about re-use, I have to remember the advice in (1). Also I recently received a pink envelope from Jon of Penny Sleeves which he says has gone around to a few bloggers. I'll have to pass that one along to somebody too.

  6. I got a package like that from Julie at A Cracked Bat... It was a shiny bubble mailer (and pink, I think). It had gone around to a couple bloggers and there was a note inside to keep it going. Haven't had enough to fill it for a particular blogger yet, but I will.

  7. I received it today.. thanks, Gregory! Gotta admit that I was "on autopilot" upon arriving home after a long day at work, and since I didn't recognize the return address, I figured it was an eBay purchase or something.. so I wasn't thinking when I cut into it. Luckily I think I should be able to reuse it without a problem, but if I had remembered, I would have been a bit more careful about it. While this is a fun idea, honestly I'll be surprised if it makes it to more than 4 or 5 destinations, thanks in part to people like me not thinking, perhaps even absent-mindedly throwing it away. Maybe something like the pink envelope Bo mentioned would make it more memorable/"special". Eh, maybe an idea for The Well-Traveled Envelope Challenge: Version 2.0 down the line, if there is one. :)

    But yeah, I'll post about it sometime this week. The person I was thinking of sending to, well, I have a couple oversized cards for (in addition to some standard-sized cards), so I may have to add some of my own supplies for that, like a couple longer pieces of cardboard.. I hope that's allowed! I'll be sure to mention that additional material is not an official part of the reusing challenge. Or maybe I'll just send to someone else.

    Well, thanks a lot for the cards and including me in this!

  8. Argh! Logistics. Thank you everyone for the suggestions, stories, and ideas on how to improve this thing. Hopefully it keeps going for a while, and if not, maybe someone will do a version 2.0 like Gavin mentioned.