Invented by two engineers, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes in 1957, the irresistibly poppable invention was originally created to serve as a textured 3D wallpaper. The sheet of film with trapped air bubbles, formed by laminating two plastic shower curtains through heat-sealing, was then tried to be marketed as a greenhouse insulator which too did not prove to be very successful. Three years later, they went on to form the Sealed Air Corporation giving birth to the brand name ‘bubble wrap’, and it was only next year that they found their first client in IBM when they decided to use it to protect their IBM 1401 computer during transit . Finally, the protective usage of bubble wrap was discovered, and it went on to become the product that revolutionized the shipping industry.
After figuring out its true calling, the product evolved into different shapes (including hearts and smiley faces), sizes, strengths and thicknesses for various uses. As any other material of sorts, bubble wrap does have various pros and cons. The major cons – non-biodegradability, ecologically toxic, flammable, and storage problems due to bulky formation – are those that are almost always negatively associated with any kind of plastic. Properties like durability, versatility, lightweight and inexpensiveness can be counted as its pros. Additionally, it can be reused in numerous ways and recycled too. However, it is shocking to know that the quantity of wrap produced annually would equate to the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Taking into consideration practicality, Sealed Air revamped the original bubble wrap to begin offering iBubble Wrap, which is an unpoppable flat piece of plastic with one caveat needing to be inflated using a pump on arrival, in 2015.
Along with being a boon to packaging companies, bubble wrap went on to be found as being therapeutic and an effective way to make people alert and calmer by the tactile sensations of touch. Furthermore, an app was developed to allow users to pop virtual bubbles to release muscle tension due to stress. And it would come as a surprise to many that this wonder material, made from polyethylene, has the last Monday of every January dedicated to its name by being celebrated as the “Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day”!