I grew up in my parents’ warehouse, packing orders, bagging everything, and driving a pallet jack! #truth Lately, I’ve been trying to combine my skills learned from the family business (it is a skill, I’ve come to learn) at packing efficiently and wrapping with my efforts to be more eco-friendly. So here’s what I’ve found on more sustainable shipping, packing, and gift wrapping…
Sustainable Shipping + Packing
Because we had to pay for shipping, we were aware of shipping costs. When learning to pack, my mom always told us, “the first pound is the most expensive.” What does that mean? It means that fewer boxes are best and more efficient packing means you’ll need smaller boxes and fewer of them! Save money and the earth! Fist Bump.
I remember years ago I received two drinking glasses I’d ordered online in a box that could hold my wedding dress. They’d stuffed it with a lot of packing paper (though not enough as one of the glasses broke). I was so irritated. I know good packing and they were being silly!
So, when it comes to sustainable shipping/packing, here are the basic guidelines to follow:
- Don’t use a box that’s too big. Search for one that’s about the right size. Besides paying more, bigger boxes take up more room on delivery and transport trucks, planes, etc. If packages are bigger, there’s less space for other parcels. If all packages can’t be fit on one vessel, a second has to make the same trip!
- Ship via ground and, especially, using USPS. We aren’t used to waiting for packages to be delivered, but we need to get back to the waiting game – it’s only a few days after all. Ground over air shipping produces less emissions. And USPS is great because the delivery routes already exist, so you aren’t creating extra trips to deliver items to specific addresses. You’re participating in a system already in place!
- Reuse boxes and packing material. We only remember to save boxes when we’re moving, but it’s great to keep a small selection of boxes to keep for shipping when the time comes! Flatten them and store them in the back of a closet or a dry place in the garage!
- Try to avoid plastic in everything from the tape to the packing material. More companies are switching to paper packing tape (activated with water) and you can too. For packing material, use crinkled newspaper sheets, magazine papers, and anything of the sort. You can also use shredded paper for this (just not your sensitive information papers).
*I have a mini shredder I’ve used recently – a great space saver though it only does one sheet at a time*
Sustainable Gift Wrap
There’s little that I get more enjoyment out of than wrapping presents. I used to wrap all the presents for my family. Everything was covered in huge, elaborate curly bows and they were BEAUTIFUL!!! Now I know they weren’t exactly earth-friendly. At least my soul was happy!
Now I’m starting to practice more eco-conscious holiday tips not just around Christmas but year round!
A lot of ribbon (and even paper) is made of plastic or has plastic components. So, if you have paper and ribbon in your arsenal, just use that up. And then try to reuse it!
I used to look down on people who saved paper after unwrapping gifts. I SO GET IT NOW!!! And I hoarded ALL the holiday wrapping paper last season. Let’s just say I’m good to go for the next year or two (the little guy got so many gifts).
Once you’ve used up all the new and reusable paper and ribbon, it’s time to get creative.
You can always wrap gifts in linens that can be reused.
You can skip wrapping altogether and embrace the gift purchased rather than the wrapping! My brother has been doing this for years!
You can reuse other paper products to wrap your gifts (like I did here). This paper is from a blu dot furniture catalog. I removed the staples and gingerly wrapped this gift. Obviously bigger gifts are more difficult to wrap, but it’ll take practice.
You can buy reusable gift wrap from this etsy shop!!
And try to skip plastic tape. You can easily use washi tape (made from japanese shrubs – renewable and recyclable) or try to skip tape all together. I used some twine to hold this gift wrap job together!!