So far, 2020 has been a turbulent whirlwind of national and international turmoil.
From global pandemics to flooding and catastrophic bushfires on our own soil, the world has been watching on in horror – and people are becoming more and more concerned about the state of our world.
In a previous blog, we talked about the valuable environmental lessons we can learn from Australia’s boho retailers like Tree of Life and we discovered 81% of customers aged 18 to 34-years-old and 67% of customers aged 55-years-and-older are worried about climate change.
Plus, 60 to 70% of customers will choose to shop with a brand based on their ethical practices including where their products are made, what (their)? materials and fabrics their products are made of, and even the sustainability of their packaging.
One of the biggest challenges for businesses trying to minimise their carbon footprint and plastic usage is finding eco-friendly packing materials. Traditionally, you might pack a parcel box or bag with styrofoam packing peanuts or plastic airbags – both of which take hundreds, even thousands of years to break down.
It’s crucial to minimise the amount of non-essential plastic in your business, not only to keep customers feeling good about shopping with you, but also to reduce your impact on the natural environment. We want to make the switch from traditional packaging easier – so we’ve collected three eco-friendly packaging materials you can purchase and trial right here in Australia.
#1. Recycled cardboard and paper
Shredded or scrunched up paper is a popular choice when it comes to packing fragile items. Lots of soft paper provides enough bounce and cushioning to prevent breakages in transit, plus it’s a cheap alternative to other traditional packing materials like bubble wrap.
However, using fresh paper for packaging is considered wasteful. If you’re moving towards a more sustainable approach within your business, you might consider swapping to recycled paper. Recycling and using recycled paper saves natural resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and keeps landfill space free for other kinds of rubbish that can’t be recycled.
Kraft paper is a popular replacement for regular paper – it’s made from recycled materials, can be recycled again, can be thrown into the compost, and breaks down within 6 months.
Here are a few suppliers of recycled packing paper in Australia:
Alternatively, if you’re working out of a warehouse and you’re looking to save on cash, there’s bound to be heaps of cardboard and paper coming from deliveries and suppliers. Consider keeping all recyclable materials and use them for future packing.
Plus, make sure to put an environmental statement on your website, so customers know you’re committed to recycling, minimising your impact on the environment, and sustainability.
#2. Biodegradable packing peanuts
Traditional packing peanuts are made from polystyrene, a plastic polymer otherwise known as styrofoam. Like most plastics, packing peanuts are hard to decompose in landfill and often end up floating around the ocean for years.
Packing peanuts can also break down into smaller pieces (microplastics less than 5mm in length), becoming a major problem for our wildlife and sealife. Our sea creatures consume microplastics and this can prevent them from hunting their natural prey, leading to starvation.
However, there’s an environmentally friendly alternative if packing peanuts are a staple in your business. Biodegradable packing peanuts are made from non-toxic, plant-based ingredients like wheat or cornstarch, and dissolve in water so there’s no harm to our sea life.
Plus, biodegradable packing peanuts can be tossed into the compost after use!
Here are a few suppliers of biodegradable packing peanuts in Australia:
#3. Air pillows made from recycled materials
If you’re looking for lightweight packing materials to keep shipping costs down, you might want to consider air pillows made from recycled materials.
Like packing peanuts, air pillows are used to fill up space inside boxes and packages, while also providing extra cushioning for fragile items. Most air pillows look and feel like regular plastic, but most are actually made from recyclable or biodegradable materials.
Here are a couple of suppliers of eco-friendly air pillows, or recyclable air pillows.
If you are using air pillows made from plastic, you should encourage customers to recycle them appropriately. All they have to do is deflate the air pillows and take them down to their local Coles to drop them into their soft plastic recycling bins.
Swap to more sustainable eco friendly packaging – it’s easy and affordable!
Finding eco-friendly packaging which is both affordable and attainable could be considered a challenge for some ecommerce business owners. Apart from filling space and protecting goods in transit, packing materials probably aren’t your number one priority, or even the first thing you’d think of when making the switch to a sustainable business model.
It’s a big change, but it’s a necessary one – the environment needs your help, and your customers are expecting you to answer the call.
Finding cheap, eco-friendly packing materials doesn’t have to be challenging – in fact, it could be as easy as dropping into your local Officeworks. Before filling boxes and bags with styrofoam packing peanuts or plastic airbags, consider swapping to a more sustainable option – there are tonnes of plant-based, biodegradable alternatives available!