{Business Tips} Greening Your Shipping Practices

Team Eco Etsy puts its money where its mouth is!  If you visit  our team page, you will see that our team prides itself on this mission statement,  ”As a global team of eco-minded Etsy sellers, our mission is dedicated to protecting our planet by utilizing methods to reduce carbon footprints in managing our businesses in the most eco-friendly manner. ” Our fearless leader, Karen Lee, of ecokaren.etsy.com, who recently spoke at the Martha Stewart’s Dreamers Into Doers Annual Conference, said it this way:  “We are just as determined to use recycled materials in our creations as we are about recycling packaging materials. We take the safety of the environment in mind in the way that we manage our businesses and create our items. We strive to grow as a team that focuses on promoting eco-living in our personal lives as well as in our businesses, and educating others about the importance of being environmentally responsible.”

Source: Ecopreneurist (http://s.tt/17uv5)

As we all know, though, talk is easy, and greenwashing is abundant, so I asked teammates to chime in and share how they are practicing what they preach, with regard to shipping practices.  Today’s post celebrates the good work being done by Team Eco Etsy’s hardworking members who are Talking the Talk AND Walking the Walk, greening their businesses in deed as well as word.  But this is more than just a shout out – hopefully, other business owners with greener aspirations will find some fresh ideas, and will join the conversation with new ideas of their own.

 

Collage details, photos in order left to right…

Row #1:

 

1.  NaturesArtMelbourne - Martina is very conscious of the additional expense of shipping from Australia to other countries.  She uses the tidy, flat boxes from her favorite chocolate bars, and decorates them with objects found from nature to make an extra special package for her customers to receive.

2.  On my personal blog, I share a tutorial demonstrating how to wrap a package in a reclaimed paper bag, an easy and quick way to make your own shipping package, and with just a little effort, you can even add an easy tear-tab.  Check it out!

3.  HerbanLuxe  - Myra shares yet another example of her 100% post consumer packaging.  She uses magazine pages to make envelopes, old cardstock to make compact mirror/business cards, and uses book pages to package her beautiful products.

4.  AquarianBath - Cory reduces trips to the post office; for domestic and international priority orders, print shipping labels in paypal. For international first class packages under 13 oz, Cory uses stamps. The postal carrier picks up these packages. First class international packages over 13 oz must be hand delivered to the post office.

5.  ChattaMamaCrafts – Melissa makes her own waterproof shipping envelopes by reusing the bags she receives horse feed in.  A pretty zigzag stitch is all it takes to turn a piece of unrecyclable plastic into a durable, and reusable, shipping envelope.

Row #2:

 

1.  ThinkCappyThoughts – purchased a rubber stamp with her shop logo, and creates jewelry hangtags and other packaging materials, using reclaimed paperboard and cardboard.

2.  Recently, my mom (Joan Gaskins) has started making these cute pillow envelopes out of tattered file folders from my classroom, for the shop we own together.  A die-cut “Thank You” makes these look really special!

3.  PierogiPicnic – Sturdy, unique and reusable shipping containers are easily crafted by collecting cereal and granola boxes from friends and family.  Simply turn them inside out, then stitch the open end with a tight zigzag.

4.  PicnicBasketCrafts – A few careful cuts can help you make some terrific shipping boxes like these out of reclaimed cardboard.

5.  Lolailo – Not only are Gloria’s products made from reclaimed materials, she also sources her shipping boxes during periodic trips to Costco.  She has found that the large flat boxes used for produce are perfectly sized for her wine cork bulletin boards.

Row #3:

 

1.  Beansthings – Jeanna collects envelopes, boxes, ribbon and foam wrap from her friends and former coworkers at a greeting card company, and not only always has a perfectly sized package for every sale, she never has to buy anything!  When she prints shipping labels, she scales them to 50% to use only half the paper.  Even the paper backing for a sheet of stickers gets reused in some fashion.

2.  FrenchCountryLife –  A green life in France means that very neighborhood walk becomes a scavenger hunt for recyclable materials left out for the rubbish collectors.  Here is the haiku-like poem Lisa sent me describing her neighborhood strolls:  Walk the village on garbage days – boxes, foam, crates.  Save our recycled garbage.  Stuffing from an old chair.  A fun and green taste of France.  According to Lisa, bubble and foam wrap are especially hard to come by in France, so to cushion her items while minimizing weight, she actually uses vinegar bottle caps and other found items.  She stresses the importance of balancing green packaging with a pretty appearance, so she wraps her cushioning with tissue paper so that her customers see her beautiful products when the package is opened, instead of the cushioning materials.

3.  I share another tutorial on my blog, explaining how to minimize your use of plastic tape, by replacing it with Water Activated Tape (also called gummed tape).  Water Activated Tape is cheap, easy to use, biodegradable/compostable/recyclable (as long as you use the unreinforced kind), and is a very easy way to show your customers that your business is practicing what it preaches. Additionally, paper tape is made with vegetable starch based adhesives, and is totally vegan-friendly.   In my opinion, there is no excuse for using plastic packaging tape, especially if you are trying to appeal to an environmentally conscious customer base.  You don’t need an expensive applicator or dispenser for Water Activated Tape either, you can simply moisten with a spray bottle.  Cut with a shaped hole punch and stamp with a rubber stamp to make lovely envelope seals.

4.  NikkiDesigns – Nikki uses boxes and other packaging reclaimed from a local blinds store to ship her ecofriendly bedding and accessories.  She minimizes the use of plastic adhesives by using the  paper tape she learned about here.

5.  KnitsForLife – Lorna proudly announces that not only does she use certified ecofriendly organic yarns,  but she plants a tree for every single order that she ships from her shop.

 

Do you have ideas for greening up your business, with regard to shipping practices?  Please comment to contribute to the ongoing discussion, as we continue to learn from each other.

This post was written by

Tiffany Norton – who has written posts on Eco Etsy.
Tiffany is a the owner/founder of Picnic Basket Crafts, LLC and Juniperseed Mercantile, Inc. She is also a full time middle school science teacher, mom to two wonderful little boys, and wife to a loving husband. She lives and plays with her family in Colorado.

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Comments

  1. I think that it’s a great idea to “green” your shipping packages. It’s people like yourselves that need to inspire others to protect nature. We are the only ones that pollute and we don’t do much to preserve nature. Great initiative.

  2. Wow, I’m so honored to be featured in this post as using greener methods is such a point of pride for me! I really enjoyed reading everyone else’s ideas too!

  3. This is a great post! I use sewing pattern tissue paper for wrapping paper and stuffing in corners to take ups space. Also, the serged seams in t-shirts make great ribbon/string.

    • That’s a wonderful tip, Mary Ellen! I, too, use scrap fabric for ribbon. We wrap our swiffer pads and unpaper towels in the selvage strip torn from the edge of our fabric. I have a bunch of other things that now come to mind as well… Maybe a part 2?

  4. Thank you! : )

  5. I’ve always used plastic tape, even though all my packages are recycled mailers from friends and family. Next time I head out to the supply store, I will look for the paper WAT! Thanks for these great tips.

  6. This is a very timely post for me with fantastic tips and advice for shipping! I just finished my first novel and have been mulling over how to utilize recycled/upcycled practices in shipping out the books to people who have placed preorders. The Costco boxes tip in particular is a great idea for a way to take already existing cardboard and create some sturdy shipping pouches – kind of along the lines of Amazon’s style of shipping. We shop at Costco sometimes and I will certainly look into grabbing some extra boxes next time we’re there. Once the book goes on sale to the public I’m also using a print on demand company so I won’t have to order hundreds of books at a time just to sell one or two. Meaning I won’t have a forest of cut down trees sitting and gathering dust in my garage! Thanks for such great tips and advice Tiffany!

  7. Actually I do not use USPS.com to schedule pick ups, and I would not recommend using that site to schedule pick ups. About 75% of the time there is a bug with the system and it says come back later. It would be great if you could include the info that I provided with the image about how I do it. I has taken some years to figure out all the tips that I included, for example international packages over 13 oz still need to go to the post office if they are first class. Any stamped or printed mail can go directly into the mail box besides those can go into the mail box with out a scheduled pick up.