How do I get make an eco-friendly package system for my online small business?

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Written By Sam Davis Ph.D.

Sticker Crypt is the internet's premier source of free advice for artists and small business owners! 

As an online small business owner, you're always looking for ways to reduce your environmental impact. One way to do this is to use eco-friendly packaging for your products. But how do you find eco-friendly packaging that is also affordable and practical for your business? Here are some tips.

In this article, I want to take a second to highlight that my day job is as a conservation scientist at an environmental nonprofit. In other words, I am uniquely qualified to tell you about eco-friendly packaging materials. I'll help you see through the greenwashing and focus on the pros and cons of each of many sustainable packaging solutions. Eco-friendly packaging material doesn't have to be intimidated. Let's find out more together!

Delivery boxes over a carpet on the floor

Why eco-friendly packaging is important for your small business

For a small business, choosing eco-friendly packaging is more than just a responsible decision – it's a smart investment. By reducing plastic and switching to biodegradable materials like paper or cardboard, businesses can create an attractive and sustainable image that appeals to more customers than ever before.

Pro: Brand image is important

Many Gen-Z consumers care more about the environment than other demographics. They care about the environment and climate more than many other people, because they are inheriting the earth. Switching to eco-packaging is one way to stand out among this consumer segment.

Pro: Saving money for the planet

On top of this, eco-friendly packaging can save money over the longer term, with fewer renewable resources needing to be sourced and reused in production. Ultimately, making the shift towards green packaging is great for your company’s reputation, as well as its bottom line, making it an essential part of doing business responsibly today.

Drawback to sustainable packaging: direct cost

Unfortunately, sustainable packaging and compostable packaging comes with one big drawback: cost. The cost of sustainable packaging materials is often 10-50% more than a non-ecofriendly packaging solution like plastic bags or other plastic packaging.

Drawback to sustainable packaging: shipping weight

The other thing you might not immediately consider about compostable packaging or any other eco-friendly packaging solution: shipping weight! Cardboard weighs more than plastic packaging materials. Like, a lot more. Plastic packaging materials are cheaper not only to purchase, but also to ship. Even if you're shipping small items, an ounce can make a difference.

We believe in eco packaging and recycled materials.

Regardless of the increase in price, biodegradable packaging and compostable packaging materials are worth the investment in both our brand and our total carbon footprint. Keeping your packaging choices within your profit margins can be a challenge, but environmentally friendly packaging, overall, is worth pursuing. Here's how.

How to find eco-friendly packaging options

Shopping for sustainable and eco-friendly packaging can be a challenging but rewarding experience. Conducting thorough research on companies and material used is the first step in finding a good option. Companies should be transparent about their materials and how it impacts the environment.

Utilizing recycled, compostable, or renewable materials are all important factors to consider when making an eco-friendly purchasing decision. While costs may be slightly higher than with traditional packaging options, the long-term impact on our planet makes it well worth it. Make sure to ask questions, read reviews, and compare pricing accurately before making a decision that you can feel proud of.

Here are specific things to watch out for:

Plastic packaging

If your plastic bags are recyclable (numbers 1-4 on the recycling symbol) – it's not the worst purchase out there. Be sure to encourage your consumers to recycle their bags when they're done. Amazon's new innovative two-sealer system is nice because consumers can reuse the bags at least once before disposing of them. If your plastic packaging material is made of already recycled plastic, that's even better.

Cardboard and paper recyclable packaging

When shopping for paper products, look for biodegradable packaging. This means that your packaging material is plain and brown, with few labels, dye, or plastic. Look for FSC-mix materials, not SFI or ATFS certifications – those are far less rigorous. Look for custom packaging that is made from recycled wood pulp already.

If your products are bendable and not breakable, you can skimp on the strength of packaging to save weight on your shipping boxes. Look for envelopes or flat mailers instead as eco-friendly packaging ideas.

Compostable packaging

If you choose compostable packaging, just make sure you understand what parts are compostable. Some food packaging, for example, can't be composted if you put meat in it. Other compostable items require a commercial composter, which many people may not have access to. There's no point in environmentally friendly packaging if it can't be reused, recycled, or reduced in rural areas. Seek out sustainable alternatives instead.

How to incorporate eco-friendly packaging into your online business sales

Incorporating eco-friendly packaging into your online business sales is easier than you think! With a few simple changes, you can make a huge impact on the quality of our planet. First, start by switching to biodegradable materials such as cornstarch or PLA instead of conventional plastic and styrofoam.

Next, focus on using materials that are sustainable and recyclable such as paper, cardboard, or glass. Not only will this reduce the use of plastics and other non-biodegradables in your shipments, but it will also help to reduce wasted energy from constantly remaking conventional packaging materials.

Finally, try adding instructions for customers to reuse their packages wherever possible – this simple gesture will go a long way in helping our environment! With these tips in mind, you can easily make a positive change for your business and the Earth. One soap company I purchase from wraps their soap in “seed paper” which is a cool little feature that you can plant in your garden.

The benefits of using eco-friendly packaging for your small business

As a small business, the decisions you make can have a big impact on your customers, community and the environment. An important choice is switching to eco-friendly packaging. By opting for cardboard boxes made without chlorine or other harmful chemicals and shipping materials produced from sustainable sources like recycled plastics, not only are you cultivating lasting relationships with your customers, but you're also helping to reduce your ecological footprint.

Going green with packaging sets an example for others in the industry and will help lead everyone down a path towards more sustainable solutions. Your commitment to eco-friendly packaging demonstrates your willingness to be socially conscious and responsible – it’s certain to bring positive PR opportunities for your small business.

Final Thoughts

Making the switch to eco-friendly packaging is a great way to show your customers that you care about sustainability and the environment. It's also a smart business move – eco-friendly packaging often costs less than traditional options, and it can help your business stand out from the competition.

There are many different types of eco-friendly packaging available, so it's important to do your research to find the best option for your business. Incorporating eco-friendly packaging into your business model is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and save money. Are you thinking about making the switch to eco-friendly packaging for your small business? Let us know in the comments!

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