Friday, April 11, 2008

Tips on How to be More Earth Conscious with Your Packing and Gift Wrapping

I received something in the mail yesterday from ebay, and I found the seller's choice in packaging very disturbing. The item itself was about 3" long, and weighed no more that a few ounces. Yet it came wrapped up in a wad of bubble wrap the size of a grapefruit. This in turn was surrounded by a hefty amount of packing paper, and the whole thing was in a big box.

When I see things like that, it makes me wonder what the seller was thinking. I figure it can only be one of two things: either they don't know any eco-friendly was to package items, or they do, but just don't care. While I can't help with the latter, I can certain provide people with a few tips on how to wrap and package items effectively, while minimizing its impact on the earth. Here are some tips for a greener way to wrap and send your delicates.

1. Get Creative With Your Wrapping Paper:

  • I found that recycled brown paper makes a very simple and beautiful wrapping paper. It is especially beautiful if you finish with a nice silk ribbon (the brown really offsets the colors) or some sort of natural touch, such as a sea shell or some small flowers. You know that ever-growing collection of brown paper grocery bags that you hate to throw out, but never seem to have a use for? Now you can finally put them to good use, by using their reverse side (the side without the print).

  • Newspaper is a great alternative to informal wrapping jobs. However, if you need something a little fancier, use pages of book print. Now before you go cutting up perfectly good books, I suggest finding ones at thrift stores or yard sales that already have some damage to them. I was able to find several old books that had been in a flood and had severe water damage. While many of the pages were ruined, a great deal of them were perfectly intact and salvageable. You can leave the book print white, or give it a quick antique look by soaking the page in tea or coffee, then drying them under a heavy item (this prevents the paper from wrinkling as it dries).

2. Lose the Styrofoam Packing Peanuts!
Try these ideas instead:

  • Use the cast offs from your paper shredder as filler to your packages.

  • Use your left over plastic grocery bags to pack delicate items in.

  • Get creative with egg cartons! They are great for protecting a large array of items.

  • Save and boxes or bubble envelopes that you receive in the mail and re-use them

  • Take advantage of Cornstarch Packing peanuts. They are truly the best. They are made of 100% cornstarch, so they are edible (although I wouldn't recommend it). They dissolve completely in water and leave no toxic waste behind. These packing peanuts were originally created with the intention of being a breakfast cereal, but because of it's poor taste, it was re-purposed as a packing material. You can buy these from almost any moving company, or on the web. For a recipe and directions on how to make your own cornstarch packing peanuts, click here.

3. A Few Last Things to Remember:

  • Ship early to avoid having to ship by air. Energy costs for sending a package for next day delivery are four times higher than the cost of ground shipping. So try to use ground shipping whenever possible.

  • Make sure you use enough material to protect and secure your item, but don't go overboard. Use only what you need.

Now your on your way to greener packaging! Keep up the good work, and thank you for your interest in staying green.


PamperingBeki said...

Great reminders! :)

Erin said...

Great ideas!!

Barbra said...

Great tips. You read my on the forums. I hate waste!!

Nature Manipulated said...

Great advice!

I once got a knitted hat in a large box and was a little disturbed by it, especially since it didn't fit in my mailbox and I had to go to the post office to pick it up. Not only was it not eco-friendly, it wasn't buyer friendly. I hoped the seller was recycling a box and that's why she did it.

I try and be eco-friendly by recycling shipping boxes. I fi reuse a box, I always write recycled on it so the person receiving doesn't just think I'm cheap.

Also, for photographs that I sell, I often reuse the envelopes photos come in when developed and package them between pieces of recycled cardboard. Maybe the packaging doesn't look so pretty, but it isn't wasteful. Once again, I write recycled on these things and hope my buyer uses them again.

Thanks for sharing!


Nature Manipulated

Field Notes said...

I'd add a reminder to take it easy on the packing tape. I've seen some packages practically taped to death.

If you're just sealing a re-used bubble mailer, take the 2 secs extra time to cute the tape in half lengthwise so you use less. A 1/2 inch is more than enough to seal an envelope!

Anna said...

Thanks for pointing these things out...I've done a lot of the things that you are saying for years.


livingglassart said...

Thanks so much for pointing all of this out. There's just way too much waste going on when everyone needs to do their part to conserve resources.

I've practiced all of the things you are writing about for years. It really is important!

FeltSewGood said...

Great tips and reminders. I always try to use recycled shipping materials. I have all my family save boxes to reuse. I save ribbon, pretty paper, cards etc. You can make great gift tags or Thank You cards from all sorts of recycled items. I sell handbags and accessorires made from felted recycled wool sweaters, so I feel I definitely need to make the effort to recycle as much as possible.

Callooh Callay said...

Great tips! I have so many bags of packing peanuts saved, I still use them on occasion--hope the people I send them too do the same.

Anonymous said...

wonderful post! :) thanks for sharing!

Suanne said...

thanks for posting that! I feel like more sellers really need to think about this.

KayzKreationz said...

Interesting read. I've done some of these things for years, but I hadn't thought about the book pages for wrapping paper. Thanks.

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