Eco Tutorial – Shopping Bag to Shipping Envelope

I know we all try to shop with re-usable grocery bags, but every so often I forget mine at home, so naturally I accumulate quite a pile of supermarket sacks, like it or not. I try to make good use of them by making my own shipping envelopes but I realized I was using quite a lot of tape to seal my handmade packaging and that bothered me, so I decided to try stitching them shut and it worked better than I expected. So I’d like to share with you this tutorial – it’s really quick and easy and there’s no real trick to it. This sort of envelope is great for shipping smallish soft products – it goes without saying that this is not recommended for anything breakable.

So I start with a brown paper bag from Whole Foods (who have forsaken plastic altogether) and a light-weight plastic bag from Stop & Shop (they still offer plastic).

The plastic bag is used simply as a moisture barrier and is not always needed, but in variable weather I like to play it safe. So the first thing to do is neatly wrap your product in the plastic bag – no need for tape – it’ll stay neatly wrapped in your finished envelope (and by not taping it, your customer can re-use the plastic bag yet again).

Cut the paper bag on its seam and lay it flat, then place your product on top and start folding. Make the envelope big enough for a little wiggle room plus about a half inch on each side for stitching. Cut away the excess paper (you know – the bits that don’t look like an envelope) and fold the left and right sides closed. Run a line of machine stitching down each side. If you want to get creative, use a nice embroidery stitch – I used a straight stitch for this example.

Neatly place the product in the envelope, fold the top flap over, and stitch it closed. No tape needed!

Now you can hand address the envelope with a dark marker (no worry about bleeding if you’ve used the plastic liner bag). Or print out a label – this will have to be taped or glued (of course) but green adhesive options are available.

I usually get 2 envelopes out of 1 paper bag and the bags I’m using are already made from recycled paper (wouldn’t Al Gore be pleased?). These hand made envelopes are nothing fancy, but I like using them and have not encountered any shipping problems.

The little bag I used in this tutorial is available in my shop and it’s all packaged up and ready to travel. Thanks!

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