If you’re packing up and moving breakables like china, crystal and ceramics, you need to wrap them in protective materials so they don’t break.
Conventional packing materials we’re all familiar with—Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap, plastic air pillows—do the job, but they also create non-biodegradable waste. Mark and Robin Le Vine, of BubbleFAST, talk about their company’s mission to make packaging as green as possible, and they share their favorite green shipping tips.
“We pride ourselves in trying to provide as many durable earth friendly products as we can find,” says Mark. “Examples are green bubble cushioning made from recycled materials, eco-friendly packing tape and biodegradable packing peanuts and biodegradable poly mailers.”
Mark says that moving and shipping supplies need to be durable and strong to protect, which makes it more difficult to create green packaging. “Biodegradable items, by definition, break down easier and faster than those that are not. Thus, it is a challenge to find moving/shipping supplies that are both,” he says. He has worked with vendors to solve this problem, creating some products that are made from recycled material and others that are constructed from special formulas that allow for quicker biodegradability while maintaining strength.
Mark says that every year the company runs a special during Earth Month where they highlight their environmentally friendly products. “During the promotion we donate a portion of our green product sales to Global Green USA.”
According to the EPA, 31 percent, or 77 million tons, of municipal solid waste comes from containers and packaging.
This presents a difficulty. You want to make sure that your valuables are protected and that they make it to their destination damage-free. Yet you also want to do your best to protect the environment. Mark and Robin explain their six favorite and most practical green shipping tips:
The useful life of bubble cushioning, packing peanuts, air pillows and boxes can all be extended by re-use. When you receive these products, don’t throw them out. If you can’t use them yourself, consider donating them to somebody who can. Of course, care must be exercised when re-using packing materials. Make sure they are clean and odor-free. Be aware that boxes (especially those made with recycled materials) can lose up to 60 percent of their strength after the first use. Reusing quality supplies in good condition will save you money and help the environment. A win-win!
2. Use Eco-Friendly Shipping Supplies
The packaging industry has been responsive to customer demand for eco-friendlly packaging solutions. Available options now include boxes, mailers and tape made from recycled materials, biodegradable packing peanuts, biodegradable poly mailers and more. By choosing sustainable packing materials you are doing your part to minimize the mountains of packaging materials sitting in landfills.
3. Avoid Overpacking
Yes, you want you to protect your items—but don’t go overboard. A sweater doesn’t need to be wrapped in bubble cushioning. Durable products may need little or no protective padding. We have all received large boxes filled with packing peanuts or air pillows to protect a pen or a pad of paper. This is not only silly, but also expensive and wasteful.
4. Use the Right Size Box
If you use the proper size box for your item you will need less packing material. Your package will also be less expensive to ship and will allow transporting vehicles to be more efficient. (Money-saving tip: Consider purchasing multi-depth boxes. Multi-depth boxes allow you to purchase one box size for multiple uses. Boxes are scored at multiple intervals. Cut to your desired height, easily fold down sides and create a perfect custom-sized box.)
5. Consolidate Shipments
Whenever possible and practical, ship multiple items going to the same address in a single package. Of course fragile items DO need to be packed individually and separated from other items, but if items can be safely shipped together you will save money both on supplies and on shipping costs. Minimize the number of packages you send to a single address to make transporting those packages as efficient as possible.
6. Ship Ground
When possible, ship using ground carriers rather than air carriers. Ground shipping is significantly more energy efficient than air travel. Less expensive too!
Thanks, Mark, for these super tips! Has anyone in our audience ever went out of their way to use green packing materials rather than conventional ones? Please share in the comments.