3 Ways Your Business Can Try Green Shipping with Eco-Friendly Packaging

Published on August 23, 2022
Written by
Filed under Shipping Basics
Read time 11 Minutes

The growth of ecommerce is making its mark on our environment. Increasing awareness of climate change has more businesses considering how they can reduce their carbon footprint. It is important to enhance your shipping sustainability by choosing the best ethical shipping practices, such as implementing green shipping with eco-friendly packaging.

Why Go Green With Packagin and Shipping?

According to studies, shipping emissions could be the source of 17% of all global CO2 emissions in 2050, and this doesn’t factor in the carbon costs of packaging. While online shopping saves people trips to the store, which cuts down on emissions, these benefits are countered by the modern culture of fast-as-possible shipping. We all love getting things delivered to our doors in just a day or two, but it comes at an efficiency cost.  Fortunately, there is a sustainable packaging solution.

The environmental cost of free two-day shipping

Environmental Impact of Rush Delivery and Two-Day Shipping

Customers are trained to expect two-day delivery when shopping online. Even when buying multiple items with the option to wait a bit longer to consolidate packaging and use sustainable materials, many customers probably don’t feel the responsibility to do so. Although convenient, this standard takes a toll on the environment from the volume of paper shipping materials used to the greenhouse gases emitted from more trucks on the road using more fuel to deliver things fast.

However, proactive and environmentally conscious ecommerce platforms and business-owners can better educate their customers on why they should these sustainable practices and greener shipping options with marketing, or even right in their checkout box.

Offer a GREEN Option at Checkout

There’s no better way to advocate for more eco-friendly, sustainable practices than to give your customers a green shipping option at checkout. You can help lead the change in customer behavior by educating your shoppers on the importance of choosing a service that may take a little longer or use recycled, compostable packaging and biodegradable shipping materials.

If you empower customers with this information, you might enlighten people that may not have ever really thought about how ecommerce impacts the environment but are willing to go green! Consider making your free shipping method an incentive to choose an eco-friendly packaging solution.

Free Shipping Green Option
Free Shipping “Green” Option

Decrease Packaging Material Waste

Have you ever ordered a small product online and received it in a box or mailer that was way too big? That’s probably happened to all of us. And it’s unfortunate to see the wasted materials when a smaller shipping container could have been used.

When shipping products, choose boxes that are correctly sized for your product. Consider how much packing your box actually needs to keep its contents safe until it reaches your customer’s hands. Not only does this help the environment by reducing your carbon footprint, but it also helps your wallet by reducing your shipping costs, giving your customers fewer materials and plastic waste to dispose of. 9 out of 10 people said they would recycle if it were “easier,” it’s a win-win for everyone – especially the environment.

Use Shipping Software For Efficient Package Settings

One way follow these best practices to avoid packaging waste as an online seller is to configure set defaults for the individual products you sell. That way, if a customer only orders a single quantity of a small item, you know exactly the most efficient and friendly packaging design option there is available. This might require you to order some smaller boxes, mailers, or bags to accommodate.

You can take the guesswork out of this process with shipping software and  product automation. Utilizing packaging presets, custom packaging types, and automation rules, your shipping platform can assign the right smart packaging type, dimensions, and weight for your items every time.

An added benefit is that some shipping apps like ShipStation help you identify multiple orders from the same customer, which allow you the option to combine products into one package when applicable. Another feature is the ability to pull up pick lists, packing slips, and other order information in a mobile shipping app.

Best Practices To Reduce Packaging Waste:

Here are the main ways you can cut back on the amount of packaging materials you are using to ship products:

  • Don’t use oversized packaging or shipping boxes
  • Don’t double-box orders unless necessary
  • Use the minimal packing filler to keep your product safe inside
  • Consolidate orders from the same user into one package
  • Use digital pick lists and packing slips on mobile devices
Recycled Cardboard Waste
Recycled Cardboard Waste

2. Use Biodegradable Packaging

Recycling in the U.S. has remained at 9% since 2012. If your packaging material isn’t environmentally-friendly, chances are it’ll get thrown in a landfill. Packaging makes up one-third or more of our trash.

You never know how your packaging is going to end up, but you can do your part to fight wasteful human tendencies by using biodegradable plastic and sustainable packaging that’s free from toxic chemicals.

Biodegradable Packaging Material Options

Here’s a list of some biodegradable packaging options for your business:

  • Biodegradable packing peanuts
  • Biodegradable plastic wrapping
  • Biodegradable bubble wrap
  • Biodegradable mailing bags
  • Biodegradable shipping envelopes
Eco-Friendly Packing and Shipping Peanuts
Biodegradable packing peanuts in a cardboard box

3. Use Recycled Materials

One of the best ways to reduce waste is to use recyclable materials. By choosing to ship with boxes and packaging made from recycled content, you can improve the state of environmental affairs.

If you choose to use recycled packaging, not only are you cutting down on the pollution caused by the pulp and paper industry, you’re supporting businesses whose mission is to decrease our carbon footprint. With your support, the recycling industry can make recycled content even more cost-effective and widespread. When you choose to use recycled packaging, you can be proud that you’re actively supporting a greener world.

For some creative and practical advice, newspaper has been a timeless method of keeping fragile things safe. If you’re a small independent company, consider reaching out to your local newspaper, publishing, or recycling centers for unwanted paper products to use as packing material. Sending your goods out wrapped in locally-sourced packaging can be a nice touch of personality, and if you’re lucky, it might even be free.

Recycled Packaging Materials You Can Buy

Here’s a list of shipping supplies you can buy that are made from recycled materials:

  • Recycled Mailers
    • Recycled Poly Mailers
    • Recycled Padded Mailers
    • Recycled Mailer Bags
  • Recycled Shipping Boxes
    • Custom boxes made from recycled material
  • Recycled Filler and Cushioning
    • Recycled Corrugated Bubble
    • Recycled Packaging Paper
    • Recycled Carton Sealing Tape
    • Recycled Tissue Paper
  • Eco-Friendly Shipping Labels
Recycled Corrugated Cardboard Sustainable Packaging
Recycled Corrugated Cardboard

Avoid Bleached Paper

You might think, “that recycled box is not white!” and you’re right! Don’t get too upset about it. The brown cardboard box is a widely accepted method of shipment. Think about it. While product boxes are meant for presentation purposes, the whole point of a shipping box’s exterior is to protect against damage. Very few people truly care about what the outside of their shipping box looks like, so long as it arrives with the product it contains in one piece. There’s little need to spend more on bleached cardboard boxes. Besides, all that white cardboard is just going to show the scuffs and dirt picked up during shipping more easily.

Eco-friendly sustainable packing green box.

Consider Green Shipping For Your Business

To make a difference this Earth Day, begin by going green with your shipping practices. Shipping green doesn’t just keep the Earth green, it can help keep your wallet green too. Here are some best practices you should consider when going green with your shipping:

  • Offer a GREEN shipping option at checkout
  • Use less packaging materials to reduce waste
  • Use biodegradable packaging materials
  • Use recycled shipping materials: boxes, fillers, and shipping labels

With these green shipping methods in mind, consider how your business can be more efficient and eco-friendly to help the Earth!

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Written by

Adam Foster

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