It's easy to offer recyclable packaging when you're just starting out in your business, but how do you keep up with demand as your business grows?
Always having sustainable packaging, no matter how big my business gets, is important to me. I'm proud to say that 99% of my shipping materials are eco-friendly packaging. With the exception of a couple of bubble mailers and shipping tape, I've come by everything else secondhand.
Sourcing eco-friendly packaging for your business can take some creativity, so here are my favorite go-to spots:
Bookstores get a TON of cardboard boxes that they're constantly breaking down. If you call them up, I bet they'll be happy to put some aside for you. And since books are heavy, the boxes tend to be small to medium-sized––perfect for clothes and small home decor items.
Your Neighborhood Facebook Groups
Is there a freebies group or a general neighborhood Facebook group for your area? If you avoid them because of drama, I totally hear you. You can mute the groups so you don't get a million notifications. Overall, I've found people to be really generous with their unwanted boxes, air pillows, and bubble wrap.
Your Next Door Neighbors
Why get in the car to pick up packaging when your next door neighbors probably have some they want to get rid of? If you can divert their packaging from the trash or recycling bin without even going more than a few steps, that's a win-win.
Walmart, Target, and Other Big Box Stores
They're called "big box stores" for a reason... one of which is that they have boxes! Sometimes really big ones! If you call their customer service departments, more often than not they're happy to put a bunch of broken down boxes in a cart for you to pick up. Not only is this a good tip for businesses, it's especially helpful for when you're moving house too.
Think about it. Seniors often don't leave the house as much, so they're likely to have more things delivered. And if they survived the Depression, they've got a scrappy mentality and like to repurpose things. I know a bunch of seniors who just collect packaging materials in case they need them, even if they don't have an immediate need for them. You can help them clean out their stash!
Cardboard Recycling Dumpsters
Some areas have designated dumpsters that are cardboard-only. I tend to see them around businesses. Those boxes are just going to be recycled anyway, so they're free for the taking.
Seriously, the possibilities are endless. And once people know you need a steady supply of packing materials, they might even start saving them for you without you having to ask! I've actually met a number of people because they were kind enough to give me their unwanted packing materials and I got a chance to tell them about the shop.
When I first started my business I was worried that my customers would think recycled packaging was tacky or that I was endorsing the companies whose boxes I was repurposing. (Because obviously I'm a proponent of shopping small and me reusing an Amazon box doesn't mean I like them!)
To make it clear that my reusing packaging materials was a conscious choice, I bought some eco-friendly stickers that say "we use recyclable packaging." (These are my favorite.) In all my sales, I've never had anyone complain about the packaging. Customers just want their items to arrive safely and quickly.
Plus, if you buy new packaging, it's not only bad for the environment, but also bad for your profits. Go green, get green. :)
So that's how I keep my packaging eco-friendly. If you're a customer, I appreciate you shopping and supporting an Earth-conscious business. If you're a fellow business owner, I hope these ideas help you keep your packaging sustainable as your business grows.