Shipping supplies don’t often come to mind when one thinks of being “green,” but they should. Saving money and saving the environment can be combined when choosing shipping supplies. This is true for business as well as personal shipping supplies.
More companies are trending toward recycled and recyclable shipping supplies for business use, but what can a private individual do to go green?
One of the best and easiest ways is by simply reusing items that are already on hand. When you are unable to reuse items, make a point of looking for and choosing supplies that are eco-friendly, biodegradable, recycled and/or recyclable or made using green production practices.
Here are a few ways you can go green with your shipping and mailing supplies through reusing and choosing eco-friendly products:
Green Shipping Supplies: Recycle old newspapers
Use old newspapers as packing material in boxes by shredding them or wadding them up to fill air spaces in shipping boxes. Newspapers can also be used whole as wrapping and padding around objects being shipped. If you use newspapers, be aware that they could affect the weight of your package if you use too many.
Green Shipping Supplies: Biodegradable packing peanuts
Made of cornstarch (or potato starch), biodegradable packing peanuts dissolve quickly and easily in water, making them a safe alternative in green shipping supplies. Some businesses and private individuals may find the costs prohibitive, though, at an average price of slightly more than one dollar per cubic foot.
Green Shipping Supplies: Shipping boxes and envelopes
The United States Postal Service offers eco-friendly shipping boxes and envelopes free of charge to consumers. These boxes and envelopes are considered green because they are recyclable and are produced in energy-efficient factories – thus saving water and electricity.
Check local stores for shipping materials made of recycled and recyclable materials that are available for purchase.
Some businesses would be happy to give away the Styrofoam packing peanuts that have come in shipping boxes. While these packing peanuts might not be biodegradable or exactly eco-friendly, reusing them saves money and might keep a few of them out of the landfill.
Many shipping boxes and large envelopes can be reused. Check with your local Post Office about the best ways to reuse those old envelopes and boxes. Old postage stamps and postmarks, bar codes and addresses will need to be removed or thoroughly marked out before reusing.
Green Shipping Supplies: Labels, tape and miscellaneous
Instead of using adhesive mailing and address labels, grab a Sharpie and write the addresses directly on the envelope or box. Check at office supply stores in your area for biodegradable, eco-friendly packing tapes (yes, they do make them). Do you have an old shoebox or other type of box around the house? Who doesn’t? Reuse it for that birthday present or care package you were planning to send. Make sure the box meets shipping specifications.
Finally, have the last word in unsolicited mail: Put your junk mail to good use and shred it to use it as packing material.