The Great Shipping Debate
The world of online shopping has grown exponentially in the last five years. Even in the last year, shopping online and pick-up in store (or curbside) is available just about anywhere. Amazon Prime is now a household name; even my grandparents use it! Did you forget your kids’ school supplies? Forget an important ingredient for dinner tonight? No problem, just “prime” it and you’ll have it in no time. It’s impossible to beat the convenience of it.
No one can deny the benefits of online shopping. They have brought many jobs to the marketplace including customer service positions, order fulfillers at the warehouse, and independent delivery drivers. Additionally, for stay-at-home/ work-at-home moms, not having to drag your kids to the store is a true win. Unfortunately, as with most great things, there are some consequences to the increased popularity of online shopping.
One major downfall is the waste online shopping produces in the form of plastic and cardboard packaging. For the eco-conscious person, this extra clutter creates a little anxiety when Mother Earth is staring you in the face. Don't let this deter you from online shopping! I’m hoping this blog post will help serve as a reminder to you to continue to be eco-friendly. Enjoy these tips that we use here at the Urban Oreganics headquarters!
Ways to Decrease Shipping Waste
If you are like me, receiving upwards of ten packages a week is not unusual (that might even be a slow week). When I place orders online, I always request that recyclable materials be used to pack my order. If a business promotes their inclination towards eco-friendly packaging, they are automatically at the top of my faves list. As you know, one of my first goals when starting Urban Oreganics was to create high-quality products without creating more unnecessary waste. The majority of our products are packaged in glass, and thus, able to be repurposed. We also use crinkle paper and cardboard boxes for shipping - you'll never find peanuts or bubble wrap in your Urban Oreganics shipment. For a more in-depth look at our eco-friendly products/packaging check out this blog post.
This may be a no-brainer, but you can reuse most of the packaging you receive! The easiest are boxes. They can simply be filled and re-taped. Just be sure to tear off or cover any previous shipping labels. Larger envelopes and poly-mailers are also easy to repurpose. You can cut off any torn parts at the top, fold over, and tape shut. Any fillers (bubble wrap, peanuts, tissue paper) can also be repurposed for your own shipping needs, or drop at your local UPS or FedEx store - many of them will accept these materials to be reused at their location.
As winter approaches, we are planning ahead for indoor arts and craft days. Using old packaging is a great way to teach kids about repurposing, and helps to build their imagination. My kids love to reuse boxes to make forts, cars, and anything else they (or their dad) can come up with. Check out this amazing blog post I found for more ideas on how to repurpose all those Amazon boxes that pile up. Best of all, even after they have been used for crafting, cardboard boxes will still be recyclable!
Amazon has partnered with “Give Back Box” to help bring generously donated items to those in need. Using this link you can print a shipping label (free of charge) to put on a repurposed box filled with your unwanted household items. I love purging and hope to start getting my kids involved so they will see how important it is to give back. Please read full guidelines on the website for additional details and restrictions.
If you still have shipping materials leftover, use your city’s solid waste management page to look for specialty recycling centers. When in doubt, seek out information first rather than just tossing into the recycling bin. Recycling unwanted or improper materials doesn’t help, but only hurts the movement.
Hey Shippers, we didn’t forget you!
If you’re a small business owner, you might be asking yourself how you are able to switch over to more eco-friendly packaging. Here is a small list of my favorite suppliers. Nonetheless, remember that less is better. For larger orders (especially wholesale) don’t be afraid to repurpose packaging. I’m sure your stockists will understand and be grateful that you’re doing your part.
Tape: We use paper packaging tape from Sticker Mule. It’s customizable, eco-friendly, and recyclable. We consider this a much better alternative to typical plastic shipping tape.
Eco-Enclose: This company has it all; boxes, poly-mailers, padded mailers, cushioning, and more! They even have customization available to align with your branding.
Paper Mart: This company has an amazing selection (and sizes) of boxes and crinkle paper at competitive pricing.
Did we miss anything? I’d love to hear how you repurpose your packaging and how you are striving to make a difference. If you are a shipper, let us know what eco-friendly packaging you use. We are always on the hunt for new resources.