Saturday, August 30, 2008

Questions about recycled packaging - Answered!

I hope you don't mind me asking, but I'm really into going green and hope to use only recycled packaging, however some people may not like it and others may think it looks messy and unprofessional. Do you have any ideas or references into making recycled packaging more "professional"? I already use some recycled food boxes but my family thinks it looks sloppy. Please help if you don't mind.

I use food boxes in my packaging all the time — including McDonald's happy meal boxes. I use them and cereal boxes, as well as other packaged food boxes that use cereal box style cardboard (as long as the food is dry) - even soda pop cardboard. I flatten them, then cut 2 pieces exactly to fit inside the envelopes I use to ship my cards. I put the cards in between the two pieces then inside the envelope. The envelopes are 100% recycled paper - Kraft paper - that I buy from

When I'm not shipping something that is flat, I re-use the smallest cardboard box I can find to do the job — or a bubble mailer that I re-use. Sometimes I reinforce those with cereal box cardboard.

I have never had any complaints - in fact - I have received some really nice compliments about my packaging. I think people who buy the things I make are eco-friendly to begin with so they appreciate it. I do put a statement in my etsy seller's profile that I use re-used packaging, but I don't go into detail.

I really don't take to heart the concern some express about needing to have frilly packaging or making things look 'professional.' The vast majority of people when asked say they think what really matters is the content and they don't care what the packaging looks like as long as the item arrives safely.

That doesn't stop me from wrapping a monkey figure or a handmade box in tissue paper or raffia ribbon though! When I do make an effort to wrap a purchase like a present, I always re-use material — usually from Christmas and birthdays. Fortunately the vast majority of people who buy presents for me use non-Christmassy wrapping paper and tissue which makes it easier to re-use.

I also use butcher paper to wrap packages - you can get it from your local newspaper for cheap or even free. At some point, the paper on the huge rolls they buy is too short to run through their press, so they accumulate 'end rolls' of unprinted newspaper. You can call them and ask if they give away or sell their end rolls. Crumpled, it makes nice padding for items that aren't heavy. You can also buy rolls of Kraft paper to serve the same purpose. It's also inexpensive.

For heavy items like pottery, you still need bubble wrap or those plastic peanuts - I save all of that type of thing I get so I can re-use it. I've never had to buy them since they are so ubiquitous.

Basically, if you save all packaging material you receive, you can re-use almost all of it. The only things I throw straight in the recycling bin are materials that are soiled, stained beyond all recognition, or crushed to the point of being useless. For re-sued packaging materials like boxes and bubble mailers that have been around the block and don't look pretty, I wrap them in Kraft paper off a roll.


lostintheforest said...

Nice blog post :)

I totally agree - just because you're recycling packaging materials doesn't mean it won't look good!

I re-use packaging from my sisters shop, mainly cardboard and tissue paper.
I also use scraps of fabric, yarn and ribbon to decorate packages when they're too small for any other use.

earth and sun folk said...

great ideas....yay for recycled packaging :)

Bluebirdcrafts said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who recycles! The birds that have nests around my yard are very colorful! I chop up the little scraps of fabric I have left place them in a bird box in the back yard that birds use this to line their nests :)! So that means my bird neighbors also recycle!

Tins and Treasures said...

Hmm...I have yet to sell something, but have been pondering this very thing, cause I'm optomistic that I will someday! I, too, don't see the need to buy new packaging, when my garage is filled with boxes, etc. already. IMHO, it's smart to recycle; they're going to through the pkg away anyway; and yours looks very neatly done. Keep up the good work!

KJ said...

Thanks for the tip about the unused rolls newspapers often have...I'll definitely be making a call.

I also love the idea of using the cardboard from soda cartons. I'm a bit addicted to Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi, so that's readily available here. Love the idea of reusing it that way.

Lynn said...

I like getting recycled packaging especially when it is done with style like yours. I have gotten some very creative handmade mailers from other items. For me it is a GOOD thing. Keep up the good work.

kim* said...

you do what you need to do to save money for your shop and make it better for the environment.

Art By MAR said...

That is wonderful how you use recycled things you make on your own for shipping. I can hardly believe how nice and "professional" they look. Great job!

Estela said...

such a great idea!!!

ChatonDesigns said...

Great main concern is that a package is wrapped well enough so the item/s arrive safely to the buyer.

Lostintheforest...great point! Recycled packaging can still look good :)

Rosebud Collection said...

Very interesting blog..wonderful ideas..certain things I reuse..but the rest goes in the dumps recycle I don't feel bad.

Anna Dykema said...

CEREAL BOXES!!! Those would be perfect to reinforce the smaller envelopes I use for my cards. I have atleast two I can take out of recycling righ now! Thanks for the tip!