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Artists and manufacturers are becoming more and more aware of the need to carefully assess their packaging options, much like other larger enterprises. Customers demand more environmentally friendly and sustainable packaging, but many designers and manufacturers are also seeking better solutions to help safeguard the environment.

Reusing any old boxes, envelopes, and materials you already have at home is frequently the most environmentally responsible packing choice. But when your small business expands, this may not always be practical, and while utilising packaging made entirely of recycled materials is fantastic for the environment, it may not be the ideal choice for protecting your items, establishing your brand, and showcasing your creative prowess.

Avoiding over-packaging

This one is rather easy to understand. Use the incorrect box or package size to:

  • risk damaging your product, as it will bump against the walls

  • need to use more filler material to protect your product, which creates more waste.

Select packaging with dimensions that are ideal for your goods to prevent this. Consider the size of the thing you're mailing and select the smallest box or mailer that the product can fit safely within. This doesn't necessarily mean choosing custom-made packing. To prevent breakage or damage, make sure your product fits snugly, and if a filler is necessary, use it sparingly.

If the box is too big or too small, your consumer can inquire:

  • Has this store packaged my merchandise with enough care?

  • Do we really need all this packaging?

  • What can I recycle?

Not only does sending a large cardboard box filled with useless paper cost more money and produce more waste, but it can also hurt your brand's reputation. You may demonstrate your commitment to the environment, improve the security of your items, reduce the number of broken product returns, and do good for the environment by utilising packaging that is sized appropriately for the product. All triumph.

Embrace the humble cardboard box

Cardboard is an easy-to-use and sustainable material. It's manufactured primarily from recycled paper pulp, is biodegradable, and is reusable. Cardboard boxes come in a wide variety of sizes and forms, and in addition to leaving less of an environmental footprint, double- and triple-walled cardboard boxes are among the strongest available, keeping your goods safe and secure during delivery. Cardboard boxes easily decompose in landfills even if they are not separated when tossed in the trash. All in all, cardboard is a tried-and-true method for keeping packaging tidy, affordable, and environmentally beneficial.

Custom-printed cardboard boxes or envelopes can be a fantastic option for creative businesses, as we've discussed before. However, when choosing a supplier, look for one that uses recycled materials and water-based ink, as this adds even more sustainability to an already sustainable packaging solution.

You can also use cardboard in unconventional ways. If you need to send small items like jewellery and accessories that need a little bit more protection than a regular paper envelope but you want a more environmentally friendly option to plastic mailers and bubble-lined envelopes, cardboard envelopes work nicely. Additionally, there are cardboard packaging choices that have been specially created to match Royal Mail's Large Letter or Small Parcel specifications. Learn more here. This indicates that you can ship for a reasonable price while still maintaining your brand. Or paper bags are just as eco-friendly if you sell your goods at craft fairs or in pop-up stores.

Make your packaging reusable

Making packaging reusable can help you reduce waste, whether we're talking about primary packaging (the envelope that surrounds the product), packaging used for shop shelves, or packaging used to distribute products. Use your imagination to come up with something here; for example, if you knit children's sweaters, perhaps you could create a paper bag that transforms into a clothing rack, or perhaps you could create a shipping box that serves as both a pen pot and a vessel for paper flowers.

Or, if you sell hand-poured candles or homemade skincare, bath, and beauty items, could you encourage your customers to send back their empty bottles and jars for a cheaper refill?

Be original! For instance, a British apparel company called Monday's Child which caters to youngsters has created a box that doubles as both a package and a toy.

Support the eco-system with plantable packaging

What packaging grows into trees? astonishing eco-odours. 100% plant-based cosmetics are offered for sale by Pangea Organics. They devised a means to put organic seeds into their boxes in order to maintain brand coherence across the board. Remove the label, give the box a good soak, and plant it. Voilà!

The zero-waste idea is being elevated with plantable packaging. By encouraging the growth of more plants and trees that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, not only leaves no traces but also helps to improve our environment.

Consider compostable packaging

Under specific conditions of temperature, oxygen, humidity, the presence of microorganisms, and, most importantly, the right tools, compostable packaging degrades. Packaging may be composted depending on its composition:

  • at home, in a compost bin (most often in the garden) with bio-waste, like kitchen and green waste

  • or in an industrial composting plant, where temperatures reach 70° C

After that, it becomes organic fertiliser.

Biodegradable is usually compostable, while the opposite isn't always the case. Compostable or biodegradable packaging, like all packaging, shouldn't be dumped in the environment because it doesn't break down the same way everywhere and could harm biodiversity while it waits to rot.

So be careful to offer instructions if you decide to use compostable packaging, such as compostable mailing bags, so your customer knows how to handle it.

Educate your customers

By informing your customers about what you're doing and why you may increase the good impact you have on the environment. Give your consumers clear directions on how to reuse, return, compost, plant, or recycle your packaging by creating a YouTube video, performing an Instagram Live (see our ideas here), posting about it on social media, or posting it on your website. You could write them a letter with your package, send them an email, include it in your shipment notification, or even print it on your packing to be even more environmentally responsible.

Additionally, this is a great approach to developing a brand and delivering engaging stories.

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