As an e-commerce store owner, it's your duty to protect the long-term interests of your business and customers. And at this time of heightened environmental awareness, nothing's more integral to everyone than using sustainable materials.
While you may have focussed on running an ethical store that features products made from biodegradable goods, have you spared a thought for the packaging your items use when being dispatched from your warehouses to the homes of customers?
Plastic has become a staple for packaging across the world, but we're only just beginning to wake up to the harmful effects some of these materials are having on the planet.
Fortunately, when it comes to packaging your products, there are plenty of eco-friendly options that are not only cost-effective, but do wonders for helping your brand image as an ethical organisation that's conscious of lowering its carbon footprint.
To help you enhance your brand image as a sustainable aware company, we'll list our top three environmentally friendly alternatives for protecting your products.
The dark ages of packaging
There are plenty of popular old-hand ways of distributing products across the world that are ultimately having a profound impact on the environment.
Packing peanuts for some time had been seen as a viable, enjoyable and cost-effective means of filling the empty space in packaging to protect its contents. However, given that they're made from styrofoam, the popular packaging filler has been highlighted as a threat to the environment due to being non-biodegradable.
Having excess packaging was once seen as in-vogue as far as building a meaningful customer experience goes. This makes for an exciting unboxing experience for the customer, who'll need to navigate their way through multiple layers of packaging. Using more packaging may seem counterintuitive from a cost counting point of view, but can work out cheaper for e-commerce stores than to go for a more bespoke fit for their products.
The environmental problem that excess packaging poses is that it can be highly wasteful of resources. This Russian Doll approach to distributing items can be a burden on our planet, even if the materials take less time to decompose compared to more plastic-based counterparts.
Although there are fewer instances of it being used today, mixed material cardboard and plastics are another burdensome forms of packaging for the environment. Again, the inclusion of multiple materials in packaging may contribute to the customer experience, but it's profoundly difficult for recycling machines to efficiently separate the materials in order for it to be reusable.
With the harmful effects of traditional packaging in mind, let's take a look at some great ways to protect your products while not harming the environment.
1. Recycled Fibre Board
One of the greatest innovations in ethical product packaging is Recycled Fibre Board. It's as durable as polystyrene, yet it has absolutely no problem in biodegrading. In fact, while some scientists claim that polystyrene can take 1 million years to decompose, if it does so at all - whereas Recycled Fibre Board takes a matter of months.
Given its ability to be molded into different complex shapes when pulped, Recycled Fibre Board is great at holding breakable items in place when in transit. It's also very durable in a wide range of temperatures.
On a side note, our Lil envelope range of ecommerce packaging is now made using 100% recycled fibres - you can check them out here.
2. Biodegradable tissue paper
Packing peanuts were a popular way of negatively adding to the unboxing experience (messy, hard to dispose of), but stepping up in lieu of the big carbon footprint of polystyrene is tissue paper.
Packing tissue paper is an excellent biodegradable approach to ensuring that your items are safe in transit, whilst making for an aesthetically pleasing thrill for recipients opening their boxes for the first time.
Paper remains resistant in a variety of temperatures and is extremely cheap to adopt for your packaging solutions. There's even an option for businesses to customise their tissue paper, either with a business logo, an iconic pattern or a message of thanks towards the customer.
Just as it's been time and time again, paper makes for a desirable alternative to damaging plastics.
3. Eco-friendly tape
When it comes to ensuring that customers receive their orders in good time, many business owners overlook the sustainability of their sealing tape when dispatching their products. However, traditional sticky tape poses an environmental burden due to its plasticity and its adhesives inability to biodegrade.
Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives available, from rubber-based paper tapes and parcels that feature sealing strips.
Paper tapes are significantly healthier for the environment and can be cheap enough to utilise without hurting your cash flow. Their flexibility replicates that of traditional sticky tapes well so you can have absolute confidence in knowing that your customers will receive their deliveries without any problems in transit.
Our packaging tape on our website is currently made from plastic, but we're working on launching a cost-effective solution that works for ecommerce, whilst remaining sustainable and biodegradable.
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