Whether you’re getting ready to mail a package to a distant relative, or looking to pack a toy for your son’s birthday, you definitely need some sort of packaging material to bring it all together into a nice little… well… package!
But there’s one thing that almost never crosses our mind: packaging material is either made from plastic or paper, both of which aren’t eco friendly. Thankfully, here are a few eco friendly packaging ideas that can help you be more sustainable while packing your items.
Recycled cardboard wrap
Plastic bubble is undoubtedly the most common packaging material for fragile items, but is also one of the most harmful packaging items on the market. Bubble wrap is made from the same material used to make plastic bags, and like plastic bags, they too are washed away into the ocean where they cause devastating damage to marine life.
Cardboard, although made from paper, is a much safer alternative to plastic bubble wrap. The reason being that cardboard wrap is made from recycled paper products. The cardboard wrap itself is also biodegradable and once used up it can be sent back to the recycling plant to be recycled into more cardboard wrap!
Eco friendly air pillows
Air pillows are an alternative cushioning material used to fill the gap between the product and the cardboard box. They prevent the product from moving during shipping and handling, as well as cushion it to prevent breaking.
However, one huge flaw with using air pillows is that they are made from plastic. In fact, they are pretty much the exact same material as plastic bags, only shaped into pillows and sealed with air inside them (and as we all know, they are an abomination for the environment).
One cool eco friendly packaging idea would be to use air pillows made from sustainable materials, such as bioplastic or biodegradable plastic. The biodegradable nature of these air pillows would not only mean that there is less pollution in landfills, but also a lower demand for HDPE and LDPE.
Biodegradable packing peanuts
Packing peanuts are traditionally made from styrofoam, and are used for pretty much the same purpose as the air pillows, except providing better protection in smaller boxes. The problem with having styrofoam as a packing material, however, is that it is one of the most harmful types of plastic known to mankind. Not only are they not biodegradable, but are also non recyclable and are a complete mess to deal with.
Instead of using styrofoam-based packing peanuts, using biodegradable packing peanuts can be considered a more sustainable option to go with. These are made from plant starch and are completely biodegradable. Many packaging manufacturers today claim that biodegradable packing peanuts are even better than using eco friendly air pillows, and harmlessly dissolve in water without releasing any toxins.
Bamboo gift paper
Although using recycled paper for packaging is a more sustainable way than using virgin paper or bubble wrap, it isn’t really aesthetically pleasing. In fact, most of the gift wraps used today are made from virgin pulp because recycled paper does not have the same sheen as newly printed paper. You wouldn’t want to give your son or daughter her birthday present wrapped in something that looks like it came straight out of the trash, would you?
However, there is a solution that can help prevent cutting down trees for pulp, while not needing to use recycled paper to make substandard gift wraps. Bamboo products are on the rise, which brings me to another one of eco friendly packaging ideas: using bamboo paper for making gift wraps. Bamboo is an extremely versatile, yet sustainable plant that can be used to replace almost anything in your house that involves wood (Find out why bamboo is considered so eco friendly). Paper made from bamboo is much more sustainable than paper made from spruce, and it can easily be used as a more eco friendly gift wrap for your child’s birthday party.
If you’re looking to send a custom-made gift that looks and feels personal, then nothing can be considered better than wrapping your gift up in a beautiful sheet of printed fabric. Although not as environmentally friendly as bamboo wrapping, organic fabric is still completely biodegradable and can be used over and over again.
Organic fabrics such as hemp and recycled cotton are easily available in the market, and with a little creativity, the possibilities are quite literally endless. So the next time you’re out to give your mother a gift for her birthday, nothing would be more beautiful to her than a present wrapped in a beautiful fabric wrap that you made just for her.
Using plastic as a packaging material, albeit being popular, is one of the most effective ways to harm the planet. We are all witnessing the change in climates, increasing pollution in cities, and increased toxins in the atmosphere, and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to turn things around for the better. Thankfully, these eco friendly packaging ideas can help you get started on your journey for a more sustainable living, and towards a better future for yourselves and your children.