Win the Heart of Consumers With Eco-Friendly Packaging
By Ashley Crowe
We’re all coming out of the holiday daze. A lot looked different this year, but one thing stayed the same. Trash. Rubbish. Refuse. Garbage. Whatever you choose to call waste, there was plenty to go around. It overflowed from most every can in my neighborhood.
The amount of garbage bags I go through every holiday season amazes me. The recycling bin has been full of cardboard boxes since October. I know that certainly wasn’t all holiday buying. Can you relate to pandemic stress-buying? I know I can!
Whether it’s toys, cosmetics, or food products. Fishing lures, tennis balls, or tools. Everything you buy, especially online, comes packaged in plastic! Packaging is important for keeping your products safe.
But why is there so much plastic? Are there not more biodegradable alternatives that would work just as well? I even grow tired of “recyclable” options since there aren’t places to recycle plastics near my home. I mean, what’s the point of buying things in recyclable packaging if it is so hard to get to a recycling center?
Reduce Waste With Eco-Friendly Packaging
You are one of the many people or businesses trying to reduce waste. Someone who is working to reduce plastic use. But finding products that minimize environmental damage can be a struggle. You need these things… Well, most of them anyway. And in these times, you need them to be safely delivered to you.
Did you know there ARE alternatives to plastic packaging?
How about that a lot of your favorite brands are making better choices? They are moving towards more sustainable packaging goals or using eco-friendly packaging already.
So, as you buy or package your goods, what should you be looking for? You want to reduce your plastic waste. You want to feel good about your products. Check out these four alternatives to plastic packaging.
4 Alternatives to Plastic Packaging
If your products need a plastic-like packaging to keep them safe in transit, that’s ok. In such cases, the first two choices on our list are worth exploring.
Cornstarch is an organic material made from corn grains. No surprise there. Surprisingly, cornstarch has many plastic-like properties. When specifically used to replace plastic, you may see it referred to as polylactic acid or PLA.
What are the benefits of PLA? It can be made into forms, making it an excellent replacement for plastic showcasing. It is considered carbon neutral. And it will not release toxic fumes when burned. If you’ve ever caught wind of plastics being burned, you’ll know how important this is.
Cornstarch packaging is certainly a better option than plastic. But there are still some environmental issues with cornstarch packaging. It takes a century or longer to biodegrade. And recycling cornstarch products is tricky. Since it is a plant-based product, it should be directed to a composting facility. It can’t just go to a standard recycling facility. Got one of those in your neighborhood?
If you are looking for a better option, then check out:
A better organic option is mushroom, or mycelium, packaging. This plastic alternative is made by combining agricultural waste with mushroom roots. Unlike cornstarch packaging, mycelium packaging is made from waste. So, there is no impact on our food supply.
Once the two waste products are combined, this material can be molded and dried. The result is a sturdy packaging for your products. It is quick to biodegrade. It is also an excellent packing material to compost at home.
For smaller items, mushroom packaging is the perfect affordable and eco-friendly option.
Organic fabrics are an excellent option for keeping together loose parts in transit. You can use them to wrap around loose parts or as a reusable bag. This green option beats plastic every time.
Organic fabrics can include cotton, hemp, bamboo, or even tapioca. These fabrics biodegrade much more quickly than plastic. They are also more likely than other options on our list to be reused.
Drawstring bags can be used to store the new product, or they can be repurposed. An organic fabric tote bag makes a great produce bag, craft storage bag, or toy hauler. Your customers will appreciate this sustainable packaging for years to come.
Recycled Packing Materials
Another great option for bundling is recycled paper or wrapping sheets. This is an easier switch to make for many. Recycled paper is easy to find and affordable.
And don’t forget to use recycled cardboard. These now standard packing materials can give your sustainability efforts an easy boost. Be sure to choose from packaging that’s from post-consumer or post-industrial recycled materials.
You can also look for FSC certified materials. This means that the cardboard or paper was sourced from responsibly managed forests. These packing products are economical. They are also readily available, making it easy to reduce your plastic use.
If your business is ready to reduce its plastic use, thank you! The first step is to think about what kind of packaging you really need. What is actually needed to keep your product protected in transit? Is the plastic casing more for presentation than protection?
Once you reduce your packaging to the essentials, explore the above sustainable options. If you want your brand to reflect eco-friendly values, you must reduce your plastic.
● Swap out plastic bags for organic cotton totes (which will also double as product storage).
● Protect your product with molded mushroom packaging.
● Invest in unique recycled cardboard box designs. Even better, have your cardboard box decorated to double as gift packaging.
● Wrap loose pieces that need to be kept together in paper.
Bonus — your customers won’t be fighting your packaging to access your product. Who wants frustration as the first association your customer makes with your brand?
When Plastic is Essential
Perhaps you have brainstormed and explored other options. However, your product needs the protection of plastic. If you can’t completely ditch the plastic, you can still make greener choices.
First, change out any other non-essential plastic with the suggestions above. Then, look for recycled plastic options. 100% recycled plastic is still a more eco-friendly option when plastic must be used. Just keep in mind that it most likely will not be recycled by the consumer. Not because they don’t want to recycle. But because there is a shortage of recycling facilities and programs available.
If you are looking to reduce your own household’s waste, it’s important to buy green. The push for sustainability is coming from you, the consumer.
The best way to encourage businesses to make the switch is to inform them. Let them know that sustainable packaging matters to you. And the best way to do that is to direct your spending to eco-friendly brands.
If you found yourself throwing out loads of trash over the holidays, you aren’t alone. Please do take a step back and examine your purchases though.
Did you think about packaging before buying? Sometimes, even eco-friendly brands don’t extend their values to their packaging.
But, there are many brands who are bringing the whole green package.
Seek these brands out. Some are truly innovating the market with their green practices.
Green packaging is becoming more affordable, but it is often not the cheapest option. In order for these brands to survive, they need conscientious consumers. Ones like you, who care about the planet, to support them.
By supporting eco-friendly brands you are reducing your carbon footprint. You are also encouraging a paradigm shift in the way business is conducted.
It Takes All of Us
The current efforts to reduce plastics are so important. Both businesses and customers are driving this crucial change. Every time you choose sustainable practices you are making a difference. And reducing plastic is one of the biggest challenges to tackle. Thank you for making a difference.
Want to increase your impact even more? Follow the Ocean Blue Project for more ways you can help. Oh, and while you are making your plastic-free shopping choices this year… There’s something else you can do. Designate Ocean Blue Project as your Amazon Smile recipient. Thank you for your support!
Author Bio: Ashley Crowe is a homeschooling mom to three little boys, ages six and under. When she has enough time and coffee, she writes.