Have you ever heard the term eco-friendly packaging before? The trend that seems to be flying under the radar might actually be impactful when executed right, at least when you know how it’s done. This kind of packaging employs every natural resource you can or can’t think of, and we’re here to give you the deets. Are you ready to embrace greener living and pour some love to Mother Nature?
The Definition of Eco-Friendly Packaging
As expected from its name, the term “eco-friendly” refers to any products or sources that are earth-friendly and harmless to nature and environment. When paired with the word “packaging,” then we’re talking about the outer part that covers things up and is supposed to be earth-friendly. Moreover, this kind of packaging should be easy to recycle as well. Remember the 3R concept: reduce, reuse, and recycle!
Therefore, it won’t come as a surprise when you find some eco-friendly packaging options to be made out of recycled materials. Besides using natural resources, manufacturers will also be benefited with its low energy consumption. Consumers, on the other hand, also have a win-win situation. Even if they throw away the packaging at some point later, the waste won’t damage the environment.
The eco-friendly packaging has been around for a while, following how retailers around the world switching to other options to help reduce the worsening plastic pollution. The impulse to go with eco-friendly packaging options usually is initiated among those with an awareness of environmental damage due to plastic and other hazardous waste.
Recently in Jakarta, Indonesia, the government has also imposed a plastic-free regulation throughout the metropolis. Stores, restaurants, cafes, and other public places can’t provide their customers with plastic bags anymore. It’s down to either the owners providing other options or the customers bringing their own bags instead.
Other than the term “eco-friendly,” it’s also known as “green” or “sustainable”.
Types of Eco-Friendly Packaging
There are several types of eco-friendly packaging:
- Organic Fabric Packaging
Some of the most famous materials making up this type of packaging include palm leaves, tapioca, organic cotton, and hemp. Besides being biodegradable, natural fabric is an excellent choice for those creative minds who wish to paint or decorate it up.
- Biodegradable Packing Peanuts
These aren’t peanuts as in something to consume but small materials used to fulfill any remaining void in boxes, containers, or any covering. Although they can be a little bit heavier than conventional plastic polymer ones, these are indeed biodegradable—as its name says—and surprisingly less expensive.
- Recycled Cardboard and Paper
These two biodegradable materials are often used to replace the use of plastic, although you still need to maintain them sustainably. For optimized sourcing, try post-industrial or post-consumer recycled cardboards and papers. On the other hand, you can also opt for papers certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
- Seaweed Packaging
Besides making a tasty snack and soup, packaging made from seaweeds and algae is obviously biodegradable—and edible when applicable and necessary.
- Mushroom Packaging
Smaller items can be covered in mushroom packaging, though this one doesn’t come edible like seaweed packaging.
- Cornstarch Packaging
Another packaging made from a natural ingredient like cornstarch presents many possibilities of reducing the use of plastics, thanks to its versatility to build things like loose-fill peanuts, molded forms, and bottles.
- Air Pillows Made of Recycled Materials
An inflatable air pillow can come in recycled materials as well, which increases the value of this product to another level. Besides becoming a great alternative to bubble wrap and Styrofoam, air pillows also use air to fill it up rather than other material.
Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials
The most prominent aspect when discussing eco-friendly packaging is about its material. Know that there are so many sustainable and biodegradable alternatives you can use. Based on the previous section alone, you already get the gist on what works for this.
While they’re commonly known to be made out of the wood fiber, papers can actually be made from cotton, water plants, rice, and even old clothes. Moreover, papers around us today are a mixture of a new and recycled fiber of these materials. They’re an excellent as well as a versatile choice for any purpose in general.
When not laminated, cardboards are biodegradable. Hence, they also make for another excellent alternative for packaging, added with their sturdy form as well.
- Corn starch
As an ingredient commonly found in the kitchen, packaging made from corn starch is proven to be easy to compost. Next time you’re thinking about using plastic bubble wrap, you can switch to this instead.
Against the widespread belief that glass isn’t eco-friendly, it actually is to a certain extent. Opt for a recycled glass that can be both food-safe and impermeable.
- Some metals
Metals can be recycled many times. For instance, you can recycle those steel cans that are used to store food and drinks.
Tips and Ideas for Eco-Friendly Packaging
If you’re now motivated to contribute to a better environment, there are many uncomplicated tips and ideas for eco-friendly packaging options and lifestyles in general. Besides incorporating green materials from the previous section, here are some more you can do:
- Have Canvas Tote Bags Handy
Steer away from using plastic bags when you cover, put, or shop things, and use canvas tote bags instead. There are many beautiful bags made with eco-friendly materials like vegetable fibers and jute plant skin. However, don’t straight up assume that they’ll come off weak and quickly worn-off. These goodies are super durable and sturdy, which makes an ideal grocery bag for those who often shop in bulk.
- Try Edible Packaging
Why dismiss the package away when you can eat it instead? This quirky idea works terrific for you who cook a lot and often share it with others! This “food wrapped in food” concept also offers double hunger fulfillment. How about some edible milk straws or cups to complete your morning breakfast?
- Order Less Takeout
Rather than having a mountain of wrapper waste after ordering takeout, it’s better to cook your meals on your own. Besides reducing less non-biodegradable waste, the organic scrapes from the ingredients can be reused for making a broth or re-planted in the garden.
- Go Minimalist
Instead of creating a super eye-catchy packaging design, perhaps it’s time to go minimalist on it to preserve more materials, energy, and space. Just like the concept of minimalism in interior designs, minimalist packaging effortlessly creates a sleek, clean aesthetic as well. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your product will seem more “naked”. It’s just about less bulky and complicated packaging, yet still sets off a better value.
How to Implement Eco-Friendly Packaging for Businesses
For those having businesses, it’s more likely for them to use packaging in their products or services. If you also have your own business, you probably can agree with us that packaging is also as important as the product itself. It’ll form a first impression to your customers, which is why packaging shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Do you know why more and more business owners have started implementing eco-friendly packaging into their products? Turns out, having a super eye-catchy or unique design isn’t really all that matters. There’s something called brand identity, which can work magic once utilized to a maximum degree in order to hinge on customers’ attention and connect with them.
Have a look at our simple tips below if you’re interested in going green in your business!
- Incorporate Biodegradable Materials
Like, duh. You won’t even start going green if you’re still worried about costs, functionality, design, and anything regarding your packaging. The stigma surrounding eco-friendly materials is that they’re not that visually appealing despite being mind-bogglingly expensive. In reality, however, all you need to do is actually to discover which green material suits your particular business needs.
For instance, consider printing your packaging wordings using a soy-based ink that’s more eco-friendly compared to conventional petroleum-based one. It surprisingly offers more vibrant and accurate colors, and it also undoubtedly is easy to recycle. Is it more expensive, then? Well, it turns out: not really!
- Create a Functional Package Design
Customers mostly throw away the packaging of the products they have purchased, hence giving it no chance of being recycled or reused. Consider creating innovative and functional packaging instead! For instance, your food container products can be shaped as cute characters like Mickey Mouse or a teddy bear.
With this in mind, we advise you to still be reasonable in terms of your products or services! What we mean is that don’t make them have less value or quality just for the sake of covering packaging costs. What’s worse is that you only want to impress your customers with your eco-friendly packaging, but they end up getting disappointed with your products or services.
- Instruct Customers
Not all of your customers understand how to recycle your products and services’ packaging properly. Therefore, it’s always helpful to print or stick a compact instructions sticker on the packaging! Companies like Dell even create several dedicated website pages for this alone. If you also do that, consider creating a QR code for the web page before attaching it on the packaging as well.
- Strive to Become a Role Model to Follow
This last tip is for a long-term result. Strengthen your brand with as many green approaches, products, and packaging options as possible. Once your customers, investors, clients, and other people start realizing how serious you are in going green in your business, they’ll likely get motivated to start incorporating an eco-friendly lifestyle as well. Remember, small acts can have a big impact!
Several things you can do are to:
- Actively motivate your employees to provide ideas for more eco-friendly Don’t forget to give rewards and positive push to keep them engaged as well.
- Offer your customers paperless receipt options.
- Simply Reduce Packaging
Are the above ideas too overwhelming or not suitable for your business? You can still support an eco-friendly lifestyle in general by simply reducing your packaging. You can sell several products in attractive bundles to save more material costs and energy consumption. You can also consider encouraging your customers to bring their own bags when they come to your store.
The Eco-Friendly Lifestyle
Now that you’ve understood the essence of eco-friendly packaging options and ideas, it all goes down to one question. Why embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle at all? Why do other people do it?
A green packaging solution and lifestyle basically has a goal to:
- Educate more people about earth-friendly packaging options and how to recycle them with ease.
- Reduce toxic materials’ implementation and promote renewable energy in the packaging production industries.
- Help save a considerable amount of packaging-related expenses.
- Advertise the application of renewable/reusable materials.
- Decrease the amount of other unsustainable product packaging options.
- Provide a healthier and safer space to live for both humans and animals.
With these objectives in mind, the bottom line is that you have choices whether you want your waste to end harming nature or not. Think about the plastics found in the ocean. Based on the data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “waste plastic makes up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments.“
80% isn’t a small number! Think about how easy it is for this waste to get consumed by sea animals. Next, do your little research about how much plastic waste a person produces per day. Find out which country produces the most waste, or read the news about the environment today.
Want something easier? Simply observe your surroundings! Start from your room or office. Do you see more of those that can’t be recycled? How about your trash bin? Finding the answers to these questions can help build awareness. Awareness can then be adopted into motivation in starting an eco-friendly lifestyle.
What do you think of eco-friendly packaging alternatives to a plastic-free environment above? There’s indeed a wide range of information regarding an eco-friendly lifestyle applicable to individuals and businesses. Find out which one suits your needs the most and start to implement our ideas when you’re ready!