5 Most Eco-Friendly Packaging Ideas

Mesh Produce Bags from Gallant
Globally, more than 2 billion tons of waste is thrown away each year. Between the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the million-plus marine animals dying annually due to plastic pollution, something has to change. Doing your part and carrying mesh drawstring bags when you’re out running errands such as buying unique gifts for grandma is a good place to start. But with online shopping on the rise, eco-conscious forms of packaging are more important than ever. It’s crucial for businesses to realize that the materials they use to wrap their products in can be as important as the items themselves. Excessive or unsustainable packaging speaks volumes about a company and its values. Many consumers are deeply concerned with sustainability in all aspects of their purchases, and the vast majority are willing to put their money where their mouth is, and to pay more for earth-friendly goods. As a result, more businesses are investing in eco-friendly options, such as recycled paper products, wholesale muslin bags, and bioplastics. Sustainability matters. Read on to learn about the most eco-friendly packaging ideas on the market.

Incredible Cardboard

Plastic is cheap — until you consider its true cost in terms of safety, disposal, and environmental impact. Cardboard, on the other hand, when sustainably sourced and processed, can mean a reduction of up to 60% in carbon dioxide emissions. This makes it one of the most earth-friendly options for packaging. Recycled cardboard is even better and uses about 90% less water and 50% less electricity than virgin cardboard. Another advantage of recycled cardboard is that it does not degrade in quality or durability. Cardboard offers even more pluses: it can be molded to fit any size package, from something as small as your favorite pair of drop earrings to big, heavy items like produce and dog food.

Corrugated cardboard is amazingly strong and can be used for industrial packaging. It is also supremely versatile. Some companies make their cardboard packing so it can be transformed into things like clothing hangers, doll houses, toys, and VR viewers when paired with a phone. Cardboard can be recycled over and over again, both in its original shape and via recycling. Another plus of cardboard: it is 100% biodegradable and breaks down completely in a year or less.

Cool Cotton Muslin 

Packaging is usually comprised of many layers, and the inner wrap is another place where plastic tends to creep into the process. For customers purchasing an eco-friendly product, nothing is a bigger turn-off than a plastic bag. Whether or not a product is expressly intended to be environmental, all layers of the packaging sends a message to customers. That message can be positive or negative. Many forward-thinking businesses are opting to wrap their products in drawstring muslin bags rather than non-biodegradable plastic.

Lightweight yet durable, sustainable organic cotton muslin bags are available in a wide range of styles and sizes, including customs shapes. Easy to care for, muslin is washable, reusable, and recyclable, making custom muslin bags ideal for eco-conscious businesses and individuals. Equally popular are mesh drawstring bags and many companies are opting to include them as a gift or incentive. Equally as versatile as wholesale muslin bags, mesh drawstring bags can be used many times, are machine washable, and are super convenient. Because they fold down to practically nothing, it’s easy to carry a couple of mesh drawstring bags in a tote bag or leave them in the car for impromptu purchases.

One thing to be aware of when choosing your muslin bags for packaging or mesh drawstring bags is ‘greenwashing,’ or the practice of conveying misleading information that makes a product sound more environmental than it actually is. Muslin is made from cotton, a natural fiber that can nonetheless have a significant impact on the environment if not produced in sustainable ways. Always look for organic cotton which is made without toxic chemicals and supports small-scale farmers. 

Brilliant BioPlastics

Recycling plastic is better than dumping it into the environment, but recyclable and biodegradable plastics are even better. Bioplastics are made from a variety of plant materials including vegetable starch, grass fibers, cassava, and corn husks. Water soluble, bioplastics leave no toxic residue and are kind to people, pets, and the planet.

Bioplastics are just as versatile as regular plastics: they can be made into protective air pillows, paper cushioning, packing peanuts, and foam cushions that may be pre-molded or produced at the packing station for exact contours. As if that weren’t enough, fillers can also be totally unique with the compostable bioplastic packing material such as FunPak. Similar to peanuts, it can be made in customizable shapes to create an incredibly unique unpacking experience.

Sensational Seed Paper

Choices that benefit your brand and the environment are a win-win, and this is definitely the case with seed paper. Zero-waste seed paper is made from post-consumer materials and embedded with seeds, offering customers a visual reminder of your commitment to environmentalism.

Plantable packaging is popular to use with smaller, lightweight items such as cosmetics, and as wrapping paper, toppers, or fillers. Seed paper is also available in boxes, sleeves, wraps, cards, bands, dust covers, and shredded, to name just some of the possible applications. Many seed papers are customizable, perfect for individual needs. Like regular paper, seed paper can be cut, folded, crumpled, and so on. The only limit to its use is your imagination. This form of green packaging makes a memorable impression on customers.

Smashing Sugarcane Polyethylene

Polyethylene is used to make everything from shopping bags to milk cartons to garbage bins. One of the most commonly-produced plastics in the world, standard polyethylene is made from petroleum, a non-renewable energy source. Besides being unsustainable, petroleum-based polyethylene plastics have been found in every ecosystem on the planet, from the remotest mountain tops to the deepest oceans. Polyethylene is known to cause harmful effects in humans and pose a chemical threat to the entire planet.

An alternative to petroleum-based polyethylene is sugarcane-based packaging. Made from waste products left over from the production of ethanol, carbon-neutral sugarcane polyethylene is BPA-free, FDA compliant, renewable, and sustainable. Sugarcane polyethylene can be shaped into over 5,000 different forms, as well as formed in custom molds. Sugarcane is so efficient at capturing carbon dioxide, every pound of polyethylene produced results in removing almost a pound and a half of carbon dioxide from the air. A win in multiple ways. 

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