Since we live far away from most of our close friends and family, we have to ship most of our gifts each year, which can end up being a pretty eco-unfriendly task considering the amount of wasteful shipping products out there. While we want our gifts to arrive completely unharmed, I want to make sure I’m not filling up the landfills with the three top offenders of shipping waste: styrofoam peanuts, brand new boxes, and plastic bubble wrap.
Thanks to my other gigs, I’ve got plenty of used packing materials laying around, all of which I reuse, or give to my kids for their art projects. In fact, our Christmas wrap is made entirely from brown packing paper stamped with carved potato stamps.
However, while you may not have those types of packing materials right in your closet, you probably have a few other things in there that will work well, and that won’t create more waste than necessary this holiday season.
Here are some tips to make your holiday shipping more eco-friendly:
1) Reuse whatever you can – even the stuff you’d otherwise wish you hadn’t received in another shipment. And make a little note in your card to ask that the recipients to the same.
2) Ask your friends and neighbors for old boxes and materials. Make sure to ask for boxes that fit your gifts almost perfectly and if they don’t, cut them!
3) Stuff your boxes with paper or cardboard from your recycling recycling bin. For more fragile items, you can also use towels and pillowcases. We’re actually giving our friends and family towels that my daughter helped make, so we’ve got automatic packing materials with our gift.
4) If you do have to purchase new products, look for eco-friendly packing materials, like boxes made from high post consumer waste, corn peanuts, and recycled paper cushioning pads.
5) Order from companies that are eco-minded in their packing and have your gifts shipped directly to your recipient. Having something shipped to you and shipping it to your friend or family member uses more materials and more energy.
6) It might not be as fun or festive, but gift cards don’t require a box or peanuts, and will still be very much appreciated. Plus, if you didn’t feel like braving the lines or were just feeling plain lazy, tell folks you’re on an eco-friendly kick for the new year. It’s actually a pretty great excuse.
What are your eco-minded shipping tips?
[This post was written by Kristen Chase.]