As customers become increasingly informed on environmentally friendly practices, they care about more than just their packages being delivered on time. Customers want to do what they can to participate in making a positive environmental impact, down to the package in which their products arrive. 

This means that they are more likely to choose businesses that practice sustainable packaging. At Box Genie, we know you care about your practices and customers, so read on as we guide you through eight eco-friendly packaging ideas that customers will love.

Best Sustainable Packaging Ideas: Overview 

  1. Offset Emissions to Offer Carbon-Neutral Shipping
  2. Use Smaller Packaging
  3. Upcycling
  4. Compostable Bags
  5. Ship Items in Bulk 
  6. Utilize Sustainable, Reusable Packaging Materials
  7. Recycle For Your Suppliers
  8. Returnable Packaging

Offset Emissions To Offer Carbon-Neutral Shipping

To be carbon-neutral means to have a net-zero carbon footprint. Offering carbon-neutral shipping means making a conscious effort to limit the adverse effects of climate change by offsetting the emissions your production might cause. 

Why Is Carbon-Neutral Shipping Useful and Why Do Customers Love It?

Millennials make up the most significant portion of the world’s population. This means that the majority of your consumers come from the millennial generation. Studies show that millennials care about issues concerning:

  • Equality
  • Peace and justice
  • Poverty and prosperity
  • Climate change

While you might not be able to tackle everything on that list, it’s essential to enact initiatives where you can. Suppose you know that the most significant number of your consumers care about climate change. In that case, they are more likely to give their business to a company that cares about its environmental impact. 

Your customers will love that you offer carbon-neutral shipping because it shows you care about how your business impacts society. If your business can provide carbon-neutral shipping, the small gesture will make a big difference to your consumers and the world. 

How To Implement Carbon-Neutral Shipping

When beginning the process of implementing carbon-neutral shipping, there are several factors to consider. First, you need to commit. While rolling out a change in your business can take time, this one is worth it. Keep the environment and your consumer in mind and consider:

  • Recyclable packaging materials
  • Biodegradable packaging materials
  • Plantable packaging materials
  • Reduce amount/size of packaging materials wherever possible
  • Eliminate single-use plastic wherever possible

Use Smaller Packaging

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment and think about when you’ve received a package with a lot of filler and little product. You probably thought to yourself, “What a waste.” Well, your customer is likely thinking the same thing. 

Why Is Smaller Packaging Useful and Why Do Customers Love It?

While unboxing videos have become a viral sensation on social media, customers are not only concerned with what is in their package but how their product is packaged. A mailer package with excess space inside will not appeal to customers because they will immediately think of the packaging as wasteful.

Customers value companies who keep the environment in mind. So, finding the best package for any particular product is valuable. Rather than stuffing the package with wasteful materials, choose a smaller box instead. 

Smaller packaging does not mean boring packaging — there are ways to jazz up these smaller packages with a branded packaging design or custom boxes. Customers will appreciate the change because it will read as environmentally conscious. 

How To Implement Smaller Packaging

When you’re ready to implement smaller packaging, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Can items for the same buyer be packaged together?
  2. What is your plan for oddly shaped items?
  3. How can you keep items safe while downsizing packaging?
  4. Will a smaller package results in a nominal shipping cost (and benefit your business)?
  5. Can you create a system of operations for determining package sizes?
  6. Can you utilize custom inserts?

Upcycling

You’ve heard all about recycling, but what about upcycling? Upcycling means reusing something differently or in a way that might increase its value.

How Upcycling Is Useful and Why Customers Love It

Upcycling is helpful because it can turn single-use items into tools with a longer life cycle. For example, let’s say you want to start gardening. Instead of going out and buying brand new planting pots, take a look around your house. Items like aluminum cans, single-use coffee cups, and sauce jars might seem like throw-away items, but you can easily upcycle them as pots for your new hobby.

Upcycling is a big buzzword when it comes to sustainability. If customers see that your business practices upcycling or encourages your customers to upcycle, they will know that you are doing your part to help the environment. This can increase customer base and loyalty.

How To Implement Upcycling

Upcycling can be implemented into your business on your side and your customer’s side. See below for three ways to implement upcycling into your processes.

  1. Use recycled materials to create your packaging.
  2. In your packaging, give customers ideas on how to upcycle the materials.
  3. Provide customers with postage or incentives to return their empty packages to be upcycled.

Compostable Bags

If something is compostable, it can be completely broken down into non-toxic substances. Compostable bags are best when considering eco-friendly packaging ideas your customers will love. 

How Compostable Bags Are Useful and Why Customers Will Love It

Compostable bags are handy simply for the fact that they are compostable. They are a great alternative to plastic bags because they are not single-use and are less likely to end up in landfills.

Many cities and states have compost programs aiming toward a zero-waste supply chain. Customers will appreciate your business's effort to use compostable packaging instead of plastic packaging.

How To Implement Compostable Bags

Like other items on our list, implementing compostable bags into your packaging takes commitment. Compostable bags are often more expensive than plastic bags, so you must consider that when making the switch.

In addition, you will need to learn many guidelines along with composting to ensure you are practicing correctly. When adopting this sustainable practice, ensure you know all the facts and factor them into your business plan.

Ship Items in Bulk

You may already know bulk items are cheaper. When running a small business, working with wholesalers that will provide you with the bulk product is often a cost-effective way to get what you need at a lower rate. But did you know that shipping items in bulk can also be a more sustainable alternative?

How Shipping Items in Bulk Is Useful and Why Customers Love It

When you think about shipping, it makes sense that the less product packaging you have to use, the more sustainable that shipment is. But another aspect to consider is the actual delivery of the packages.

Packaging products in bulk will result in less packaging and fewer trips back and forth between destinations. Your company is now emitting less fuel exhaust into the environment.

And why will customers love it? We already mentioned how unboxing videos have gone viral. People love receiving packages. Imagine a customer receiving not one but four or five of their items at once. It will be an unboxing party.

How To Implement Bulk Shipments

Implementing bulk shipments will depend on your current shipping practices. Even though it might seem like shipping speed is everything, offering customers a bulk option can make a difference.

For example, say a customer purchases three products from your eCommerce business. You can get one product to them in two days, but the other products will take four days. Provide the customer with a bulk shipping option. Succinctly explain that selecting the opportunity for one bulk package to come instead of two separate packages is the more sustainable option.

This puts the decision into the hands of the customer, and many customers will appreciate that you have the environment in mind.

Utilize Sustainable, Reusable Packaging Materials

When it comes to packaging, the type of materials you use matters. The more we learn, the more we understand that useless filler and styrofoam are not environmentally friendly packaging options. Go green with these eco-friendly packaging materials that your customers will love:

  1. Custom inserts to hold items in place
  2. Corrugated bubble wrap
  3. Recyclable air pillows
  4. Recyclable cardboard
  5. Cornstarch packaging
  6. Eco-friendly plastic or recycled plastic

Recycle for Your Suppliers

While this method might be less about your customers and supplier relationships, it’s all about the principle of the practice and how it contributes to your overall sustainability promise.

Part of being a small business owner is the relationships you create. Teaming up with others is a great strategy when you commit to reducing your carbon footprint. Talk to your suppliers about a system you can put into place that will promote packaging recycling.

Returnable Packaging

Returnable packaging is another option you can give your customer or set up with your suppliers. Returnable packaging can be used more than once and is generally a sturdier material than regular cardboard boxes.

Why Returnable Packaging Is Useful

There are many benefits to using returnable packaging, such as:

  • Lower costs
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Product protection and handler protection

Customers will love that your company is making an effort to positively impact the environment, which is a great way to improve your brand’s reputation. 

Why Is Sustainable Packaging Important?

Sustainable packaging solutions are essential for your business and the environment. It’s about more than looking good to your customers. It’s about doing your part.

The most critical aspects of sustainable packaging are:

  1. Reduce carbon footprint
  2. Maintain social responsibility
  3. Reduce general waste
  4. Increase sales
  5. Lower costs

The Bottom Line

The biggest takeaway is that using sustainable packaging will not only help your customers see your effort, but the world will also benefit from your endeavor.

Using sustainable materials has business benefits, but it’s more than that. From offering carbon-neutral shipping to utilizing returnable packaging, sustainable packaging is the way to go.

For more information about your packaging needs, check out Box Genie.

Sources:

8 Characteristics Of Millennials That Support Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ⎸ Forbes

Frequently Asked Questions about Plastic Recycling and Composting | US EPA

10 Eco-Friendly Packaging Alternative For Your Businesses’ Shipping Needs ⎸ Green Business Bureau

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