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Protect the Environment Each Time You Ship

When it comes to running a business, there are approximately eight million elements you have to keep at the forefront of your mind. There’s operations management, payroll and employee efficiency, and advertisements, to name a few.

However, one thing you might not have considered when it comes to wrapping your mind around all parts of your business… is how to ship all your products in as eco-friendly a manner as possible.

Before you nay-say and claim that this isn’t a consideration you have to worry about, realize that there are customers who will only buy from retailers/shops who promote the fact that they use eco-friendly methods and eco-friendly packaging. 

Although the goal should be protecting the planet and reducing a business’s carbon footprint, whatever will push you to make the change towards eco-friendly packaging should be pursued.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

  1. What Is Eco-Friendly Packaging?
  2. How Do You Ship Eco-Friendly?
  3. Why Is Eco-Friendly Packaging Important?
  4. Pros and Cons of Eco-Friendly Packaging
  5. FAQs

What Is Eco-Friendly Packaging?

The easiest definition for eco-friendly packaging is any sort of packaging that is easy to recycle and that is also not liable to be harmful to any humans or pets that are around the material.

To look at it another way, packaging that can be considered eco-friendly is any packaging that uses materials or manufacturing methods that have a neutral or minimal negative impact on the consumption of natural resources and finite energy sources.

You may have also heard this type of packaging called sustainable or green packaging; it’s a type of packaging that is becoming more and more prevalent around the world. Although many in positions of power don’t think that the world needs to go greener to save the environment, science disagrees and needs to be listened to.

When it comes to packaging that is meant to be more sustainable, the goals of this type of packaging are to:

  • Lower the amount of landfill and other non-recyclable materials that are currently used in shipping. 
  • Get more people aware of renewable and reusable resources and willing to use them.
  • Inform people about the benefits of using more eco-friendly packaging.
  • Lower the number of expenses that are related to packaging costs, especially for smaller businesses.
  • Remove as many toxic materials that are part of the business and production process as is possible.
  • Give consumers easier options for recycling their packaging – if a consumer has to expend additional effort to be green, they are unlikely to change their ways.

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How Do You Ship Eco-Friendly?

Shipping in an eco-friendly manner isn’t all that different from shipping a normal package. You will still have to use a shipping label and it is still in your best interest to make use of a shipping cost calculator to learn how much you’ll likely be spending to send a package off.

However, the main thing that will change when it comes to shipping in an eco-friendly manner is the packaging that you will use to set the item in. Rather than using non-biodegradable Styrofoam as dunnage, for example, you could switch to bubble wrap or even crinkle paper.

In this example, bubble wrap and crinkle paper are biodegradable – meaning that they will break down naturally in the environment and not harm anything while doing so. They also do not hurt the environment when they’re produced, whereas Styrofoam is one of the most damaging things that has ever happened to the planet.

You’ll be surprised by how much you – as an individual or a small business – can do to help the environment just by switching up the type of packaging you’re using when it comes time to ship your wares.

Another way to ship in an eco-friendly manner is to use whatever the default/slowest shipping method is. Although slower shipping methods will – obviously – take longer to reach a customer, less gas and fossil fuels will be used on the transport of the package. For example, UPS Next-Day Air Saver is a lot more damaging to the planet than a single ground truck driving a package two counties over.

In summary, fast shipping is rarely eco-friendly.

Why Is Eco-Friendly Packaging Important?

Eco-friendly packaging is important for several reasons. There is the slightly more self-focused reason of trying to get more people to buy from your company. Even if you don’t believe that the environment needs to be protected, you will doubtless have customers who believe that and who will want to buy from you because you support eco-friendly practices.

Additionally, whether or not you believe in climate change and global warming, doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint by using eco-friendly packaging can go a long way towards helping the environment. If every business were to make this extremely simple change, the rate at which landfills become full and the rate at which the global heat death of our planet drew closer would slow.

Whichever of these two reasons works to sway you, take that as the truth and use it as the push to change your business model so that you switch up your packaging to an eco-friendly variant.

Pros and Cons of Eco-Friendly Packaging

Pros

  • Good for the environment
  • Will allow you to claim that your business is an eco-friendly business, which might draw more customers to your business
  • Reusable, meaning you’ll save money on materials

Cons

  • Depending on the material, if it’s a specialized material, you might end up spending more on packaging costs to use eco-friendly packaging.
  • The slightest contaminant of an outside factor (food, oil, grease) can quickly turn an eco-friendly bit of packaging into something that is no longer considered “green.”

FAQs

What is the most eco-friendly packaging?

There isn’t enough science out there as of yet to determine which packaging is truly the least damaging to the environment, but there is a lot of research that has determined which ones are better to use.

Some of the best materials to use for eco-friendly packaging are paper, cardboard, cornstarch/packing peanuts made from cornstarch or plant starch, or bagasse paper.

What are examples of eco-friendly packaging?

Some examples of eco-friendly packaging are paper, cardboard, packing peanuts made from cornstarch, and bagasse paper. Other recyclable items are glass and metals such as aluminum, but because of how cost-prohibitive they are, you are unlikely to use them for packing purposes. 

Is Styrofoam eco-friendly?

Styrofoam is not eco-friendly. Not only does Styrofoam release toxic elements into the environment when it’s heated, but it also does not biodegrade. This means that humans will be finding evidence of Styrofoam in landfills and across the planet for the next hundred years. The sooner that toxic materials such as Styrofoam can be removed from circulation, the better off the planet can be.

How can we make eco-friendly packaging?

Eco-friendly packaging is any packaging that uses fewer natural resources, doesn’t attempt to increase toxins in the environment, and is made from naturally-renewable and sustainable sources. 

As such, so long as we can find a way to use natural resources in ways to create more packaging, that will be the best method for making eco-friendly packaging.

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