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Eco-friendly packaging ideas for online sellers

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Selling online is big news, whether you’re a huge retailer, small ecommerce store, selling on handmade marketplaces or even if you dabble in selling preloved goods on the likes of eBay.

There’s never been a better time to sell goods online, especially as the pandemic switched even the most dedicated High Street and in-store shoppers to online advocates.

There’s been a huge increase in demand for the convenience of online shopping, however one negative is the sheer amount of packaging that is required to ship individual packages around the country, and even globe.

Ecommerce packaging waste is no doubt becoming a bigger issue in recent times, so if you’re selling online, what can you do about it?

Read on for several eco-friendly packaging ideas for online sellers.

Always reuse

What do you do when you receive an online parcel?  Do you tear off the packaging and immediately throw it in the bin?  Then you are contributing to landfill waste each time you do this.

Here’s what I do: I carefully open my parcels and I keep the packaging.

Not only do I sell our preloved goods online regularly, but my husband runs an ecommerce business and often requires packaging.

By neatly saving all the packaging we receive I never have to buy new packaging to send the items I sell on eBay.

If everyone reuses the packaging they receive it will drastically cut down on the manufacturing and pollution caused by constantly producing more new packaging.  It will save you money too as you’ll never have to pay for your own packaging materials!

If you are a small business and you are trying to be eco-friendly, then simply let your customers know on your information pages that you will always use recycled packaging where possible and you hope they will support you in this eco venture.  Ask them to do the same - keep it and reuse it!

Choose recyclable and compostable packaging

If you must buy new packaging for shipping your goods then make a conscious effort to buy recyclable and compostable packaging.

Don’t be fooled by the mailing bags simply called ‘biodegradable’ as some of them take decades to decompose and are not recyclable either.

A better option is compostable packaging which can be added to home compost bins or taken with the council’s food waste recycling scheme.

Compostable packaging is usually made with adhesives and laminates that are plant based and fully biodegradable into natural materials, but they are still strong and perfect as packaging for all sorts of products.

At the very least, make sure your packaging is recyclable.  Use paper and cardboard when possible as this is easily recycled. 

If you need to use plastic packaging then make sure it’s a recyclable version, otherwise it’s headed for landfill.  Plastic waste is a huge problem and you can’t be sure your customer will recycle plastic, so compostable packaging is a much better planet-friendly solution.

Seal with paper tapes

Sellotape is plastic.  So if you’re sealing everything with reams of packaging tape, you’re adding more and more plastic into the environment.

Having tried the plastic free Sellotape, it failed to perform as it ripped constantly, so hopefully they’ll improve this soon!

Instead, choose a Kraft tape which is made from biodegradable paper and uses natural glue.  These are widely available nowadays and I buy packs of them on eBay for a cheap price.

They are perfectly strong enough to seal heavy parcel boxes and reduce the need for any plastic to be used at all when shipping in boxes.  Simply pad out the goods with scrunched up brown paper if needed and reduce the need for bubble wrap.

You can even buy ‘paper bubble wrap’ nowadays and 100% recyclable bubble wrap - however, again, you will be relying on the customer to recycle.

Wrapping up

So to wrap up (pun intended), make sure your online business is reusing packaging and opting for planet-friendly solutions such as compostable packaging and biodegradable paper packaging tape.  You can’t be sure your end customer will recycle plastic packaging, so keep this to a minimum or don’t use it at all.