America, we have a packaging problem. As business owners, you know how important it is to package your products so that they are protected from truck to shelf or warehouse to home. However, it’s time to start rethinking the kinds of materials we use when putting our packaging together.
A recent study revealed that packaging waste accounts for 30% of overall US waste each year. To make matters worse, much of this waste is plastic–which means it won’t break down any time soon.
The good news is that together, we can make the switch to eco-friendly packaging.
Read on to find out more about seven different green packaging options that you can start using today.
1. Styrofoam-Free Packing Peanuts
Styrofoam was invented in 1941 and early styrofoam users were amazed at the product protection this strange new material provided. What no one realized at the time was that styrofoam takes about 500 years to decompose. Nowadays, styrofoam is considered one of the least sustainable packaging materials out there.
Now, businesses can switch to biodegradable air peanuts. These sustainable peanuts are styrofoam-free but pull off the same levels of product protection as their toxic predecessor.
2. Corrugated Cardboard Bubble Wrap
Truth be told, most of us love bubble wrap. We have to admit, it’s pretty satisfying to pop all those little plastic bubbles. At the end of the day, however, a few moments of entertainment aren’t worth the plastic waste.
Now, you can use corrugated bubble wrap instead of plastic bubble wrap. This bubble wrap alternative is made of reused cardboard that is cut and designed to cushion and protect your products.
3. Recycled Material Air Pillows
Chances are, you’ve seen these recycled material air pillows already. Tons of major companies, from Target to Amazon, are already making use of this sustainable alternative.
These air pillows are made of recycled plastics and other reused materials. They are then inflated with air, which means that you’re getting all the protection of old-school packaging materials with about a fraction of actual materials. These air pillows can be purchased by the ream and split into smaller pieces so that you can always grab the amount you need for every order you fill.
4. Cornstarch-Based Packaging
If there’s one thing we all know about American agriculture, it’s that our land is very suitable for growing corn. As a result, we grow a lot of it, and it isn’t just good for eating.
Cornstarch is a 100% organic ingredient derived from nothing but corn. In recent years, scientists have discovered that cornstarch can be used to make a plastic-like material. This can be used to make bottles, food packaging, and more.
One thing that’s worth noting is that corn is one of the main food sources of American livestock. While cornstarch-based packaging is a much better option than traditional plastics, it’s not our favorite option on this list. Some worry that increased demand for this packaging will lead to livestock food shortages–just some food for thought!
5. Mushroom Packaging
Mushroom packaging is probably one of the coolest green packaging options to date. Unlike cornstarch-based packaging, mushroom packaging is made from waste products that we couldn’t eat and neither could our farm animals.
What, exactly, is mushroom packaging? Mushroom roots (aka mycelium) fuse together agricultural waste that has been cleaned and ground to a pulp. It can then be used in place of most cardboard or styrofoam packaging products–and your customers can add it to their compost pile!
6. Recycled Plastic
A lot of companies aren’t ready to move away from plastic packaging. It’s not hard to understand why, when so much of our food, cleaning supplies, and other essentials rely on plastic packaging. If you can’t part ways with plastic, we encourage you to consider using 100% recycled plastic materials.
Now, we aren’t recommending that you start saving your own soda bottles and milk cartons and using those for your products. Plenty of companies produce clean, ready-to-use plastic packaging materials made from recycled plastic.
7. Recycled Paper Materials
We tend to assume that paper and cardboard are eco-friendly by default. After all, these materials are mostly natural and biodegrade much faster than plastic or styrofoam. However, if your paper and cardboard aren’t sustainably sourced, it can still have a negative impact on our environment.
Now is the time when we need to start planting more trees, not cutting them down. By sourcing your paper and cardboard from a sustainable provider that uses recycled materials, you can lower your carbon footprint. Look for post-consumer or post-industrial sources of recycled paper and cardboard.
Ecofriendly Packaging Doesn’t Have to Sacrifice Design
If you’re ready to switch your packaging materials, you’re probably wondering about design. Maybe you don’t love using unsustainable materials to package your products but you do love the way it’s currently designed. The good news is that switching to sustainable packaging doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice design!
What steps should you take to make sure that your sustainable packaging has a design that you love? Take a look at this complete guide to design packaging to find out everything you need to know.
Go Green With Sustainable Packaging Today
It’s time for businesses, big and small, to reevaluate their normal procedures. What changes can you make to lower your company’s impact on the environment? Switching to eco-friendly packaging materials can help lower American packaging waste from 30% to 0%.
Technology is what makes all of these sustainable business changes possible. Do you want to find out more about what’s happening in the tech industry and how it might benefit your business? Take a look at our tech section to stay on top of the latest news and industry updates.