Sustainable Packaging

Harriet is the founder of Tillyboo’s and specialises in easy swaps to help people start their plastic free journey. In celebration of plastic free July, she has kindly agreed to write our guest blog on how to reduce plastic in your business packaging.

How can we make packaging sustainable?

As a small, eco-conscious business this can be a big question.

If you have a small business packaging brings up a lot of problems: it needs to protect your item or packaging, it needs to be light weight, it needs to be sturdy, it needs to be cost effective, it needs to fit your products…now it needs to be sustainable and eco conscious too, maybe even plastic free!

At TillyBoo’s reusable is my top focus. Using something again is the best way to lower your impact on the planet – the energy and resources required to make it have already been used. So reusing it has no further cost, in fact you are saving resources in terms of recycling. So when you receive a parcel from me, it will likely be in a previously used envelope, box or mailer bag. It could even be in a cereal box or show box. But it will still be safely packaged!

One of the best swaps I have found for packaging is recyclable paper tape. I have used and tried 2 types, the lick and stick, and the pre-gummed. Lick and stick, is great for wrapping gifts and internal items, but not secure enough for outer packaging. My more recent find is the recyclable tape that works like ‘normal’ tape, a bit more like masking tape. It is much more secure for boxes, tears easily and is fully recyclable. If you want a pretty alternative then washi tape is certainly worth a look or you can have your paper sticky tape custom printed for your business.

I’m sure you will all know about cardboard packaging boxes and envelopes – easy to find, easy to use, and reasonable yet secure. If you are buying new ones for your business, then why not make them more sustainable by checking the source. Look for ones produced locally to you (or at least in your country) to lower the carbon footprint and make sure it comes from a sustainable source.

Mailer bags now have many options – reuse the ones you receive, or source your own. Home compostable ones are a fabulous idea, as these will contain no plastic. Biodegradable items, can appear a good option, but often contain types of plastic. Starch based or vegetable based products are the best way to ensure you have no plastic here.

Internal packaging is easier – nice paper bags, or glassine bags are a wonderful option, or even small home compostable bags. Again try and source them locally and from a quality source. Then shout about this to your audience, let them know your values!

Safety packaging may be a concern, but there are now many sustainable options – recycled wool, shredded paper or card that can be reused upon receipt, starch based packaging peanuts and even cardboard and paper based bubble wrap. Guess what I use…you’ve got it…I reuse the packaging paper that comes in my own parcels.

To me making a package pretty is the harder part of a sustainable packaging plan. As a zero waste company, I don’t add anything ‘extra’ to my parcels. Items are tied up with left over fabric offcuts, or paper string with recycled Kraft paper labels. I avoid stickers like the plague – they make your packaging less recyclable and have the horrible plastic backing! Why not try washi tape, paper tape and a lovely reusable stamp? I got mine custom made from Julie’s Craft Cabin and use it so much. You could even opt for vegetable ink. Recently I found some wood based ribbon, it looks stunning and maybe next on my packaging purchasing list.

Finally, business cards. Well the world is your oyster here now. Lovely seed paper business cards, recycled unlaminated cards, or a hand written note. Personally I use a recycled card based business card which is unlaminated for recyclability and some wonderful seed paper offcuts as a thank you, stamped with my lovely business stamp. You could, of course, choose not to send one and just leave it with your confirmation and thank you email instead.

So we can make packaging sustainable and we can make it pretty and fun. Choose one thing and make a change, your business, your customers and your planet will love you for it.