Guest Post: How to Source Eco-Friendly Packaging for Your E-Commerce Business

Making the big switch to environmentally friendly packaging can provide your company some good brownie points. Nowadays, customers are becoming more and more conscious not only about the quality of your products but also about the advocacies you are part of. Environmental awareness has shaped consumer behavior and this is one aspect of your business plan that you should not neglect.

Eco-friendly packaging can improve your brand image and institutional reputation. When your customers find out that your company is making an effort to consider sustainability in your business procedures, they perceive that your company cares about the planet and that you are taking full ownership of your environmental responsibility. This is true in the 2018 Nielsen Survey when it was found that 81% of global consumer-respondents believe that companies have an obligation and responsibility to the environment. Therefore, being one with the advocacy will not only improve your customer retention but also attract even more customers throughout your implementation. 

Going green or being eco-friendly does not always mean you have to start over. Start small with carefully measured footsteps, even the slightest change in your product packaging can go a long way. Many e-commerce businesses have leaned to eco-friendly packaging as an effective way to impress and wow their customers with their product orders. Customers receive an item wrapped beautifully in sustainable packaging and this provides them some psychological mood lift upon receiving.  

According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (2019), your packaging can only be considered eco-friendly if it meets these standards:

  • Safe and healthy for people to use throughout its lifecycle.
  • Meets the purpose in terms of performance and cost
  • Consumes renewable energy
  • Entirely made of renewable or recycled source materials
  • Utilizes clean technologies
  • Minimizes energy and material waste
  • Should be part of a circular system of reuse. 

Considering these criteria, you can now explore ways on how to be creative with your eco-friendly packaging style. Here are some ideas you might want to give a shot:

Canvas tote bags as a replacement for plastic bags.

Veer away from plastic bags as they are known to have a direct impact on the environment. They simply end up in our landfills and pollute the environment. Alternatively, you can use a canvas tote bag made out of recycled organic fabrics. Gather all reusable canvas and negotiate with your local tailor to handcraft the tote bags. There is a long list of various organic fabrics: hemp, recycled or organic cotton, palm leaves, and tapioca are among others. Look around and check for other things that you can make something out of flour sack, rice sack, used clothes — the possibilities are endless. In fact, you can make a source drive for this by gathering materials from your customers and in return thank them with a discount on their next purchase.

Cardboard boxes as eco-box packaging.

While many would say cardboard boxes are eco-friendly and recyclable, they can still make an impact on the environment if they are sourced unsustainably or are not recycled after use. A pro-tip is to source post-consumer or post-industrial recycled cardboard, box, or paper so that you know they are not purely commercial. You can include a tag on each box that says “you are the third owner of this box” so that your customers have an idea that they should continue the cycle and not just dump it in the trash.

If you must use plastic, use bio-plastic. 

It would not be easy to banish plastic bags especially in most e-commerce businesses like fashion and other merchandise. However, you can source some bio-based polybags. You may want to haggle with a supplier for this. These bags have a shelf life of at least 12 months and are entirely compostable when they are disposed of correctly.

Use trinket replacements for embellishment.

Trinket replacements are those minute details that can add or beautify your packages. Sure you can put a ribbon on it or a catchy label to have a fully dressed package but the materials need to be 100% eco-sourced or recyclable as commercial trinkets like your usual ribbons, cards, plastic, and other embellishments can still take some space in the landfill. Include this in your source drive or you can make your own with DIY recyclable items.

In conclusion, these efforts must save your company money and should be beneficial in the long run. Think about it, you reduce your overheads and using fewer commercial materials which are trimming your manufacturing and shipping costs. Just remember, each package that goes out for shipping must still be in line with your standards and modified intended outcomes to ensure you are consistent with your company’s brand. A little uniform tag can do just that. Tap or hire your design experts and graphic designers to improve your ideas and make your sustainable packaging as effective and impressive as possible. These days, businesses do not only need to do pure business, they must also take their part in preserving our environmental resources by offsetting carbon to mitigate the adverse effects in the unknown generations to come. 

About The Author:

Katreena is a scientist and a life hack specialist. She’s authored scientific journals on biotechnology and molecular biology. To take a break from scientific journals, she puts her mind into writing about lifestyle, health, and sustainability. She strongly believes that kindness makes the world go round.

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