Friday, December 3, 2010

Green your Shipping Operations part 1

Most Etsy sellers are probably ecstatic when they stumble across a nice shoebox or a small corrugated box they can reuse in their own shop – it’s like finding gold! But are you doing everything you can to keep your shipping practices green? Here are some ideas to consider:


Try and reduce the amount of packaging you are using. It's important to keep a variety of boxes and envelopes on hand so you don't have to put a small item in an oversized box. Also, consider a refillable packing tape dispenser and buy replacement tape rolls in bulk, rather than buying packing tape with a new dispenser each time (P.s. - those cardboard tape rolls make excellent bead or knick-knack dividers when a cardboard circle is glued to the bottom!)

Avoid double and triple packing items – for instance, a necklace in a mini zip bag, in a gift box, in a bag, wrapped in tissue, in a shipping box.... you get the idea!


Don't be shy - see some great boxes sitting outside a business or at your work? See if you can take them to reuse. Trophy shops, gift stores and even restaurants often have oodles of boxes. See if you can find a local business to partner with and offer to take all that "waste" off their hands!

Fill material is important for many Etsy sellers sending fragile items. Plastic bubble wrap and peanuts have their place, but you probably have things around your house that will work just as well! Popcorn is an excellent replacement for foam peanuts (encourage buyers to throw it in their yard for the squirrels!) Newspapers, magazine pages, and junk mail make excellent fill material when crumpled. Save the tissue paper from new purses or shoes to reuse. Many department stores put colored tissue paper inside shopping bags - reuse it! If you have a paper shredder to shred your bills, save those shreds for padding!

If you print your own shipping labels, why not print them on the back of scrap paper? Grab a few sheets out of the recycle bin at your office and print on the back. As long as the paper isn't too transparent, this works great and gets another use out of a sheet of paper before it goes to the recycle bin. Recycling is great, but it takes a lot of energy to recycle paper and plastic, so it’s most efficient to get as many uses out of an item as possible before it is recycled.

Extra fabric cut into strips makes for charming ribbon and ties. During the holiday season, if your yard is covered in pinecones, try using some as a festive fill material! Packing materials are everywhere…

If you are wary of how using reused materials might affect your business image, just consider it a marketing challenge. You could buy a rubber stamp that proudly announces you have reused packaging. Or consider an announcement in your shop that tells customers they can expect their package to arrive in eco-friendly upcycled packaging. Additionally, consider wrapping your main item in lovely printed tissue paper to make it stand out from your mishmash of upcycled fill material.

If you need to use new packing materials, consider eco-friendly products such as cornstarch peanuts or 100% recycled bubble wrap.
What do you do to keep shipping green? 


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