Although these holographic Black & Bone bags are cool-looking, they may not be sustainable packaging.
Image via Black & Bone
Written by Danielle Williams, Edited by Sheila Lau

What Can retailers Do To Use More Sustainable Packaging?

We need to use sustainable packaging to reduce the amount of packaging waste we create.
Gif via benoit leva on Dribbble

When it comes to sustainable packaging there isn’t a one-size-fits-all option, but there are options! With online shopping becoming the go-to for most consumers these days, the fashion industry has seen a surge in online orders resulting in more packaging.  According to Shopify’s Fashion and Apparel Industry Report, the fashion e-commerce industry is expected to rise from $481.2 billion in 2018 to $712.9 billion in 2022. Packaging waste is a growing global issue, especially with the increase in online shopping, so knowing how to ship your products sustainably is key to taking responsibility for the environment and becoming a more ethical eCommerce retailer. Using sustainable packaging will also draw more positive attention to your business and hopefully inspire others to choose the same route. It’s time for us to lead by example and change the way products are packaged and shipped. 

With the constant evolution of technology, more and more materials are being proven usable for shipping. Although eco-friendly packaging and shipping options may result in an increase in product pricing, studies have shown people are likely to pay more for a product that is proven sustainable in all areas. The packaging industry is finally being more closely examined to find out just how environmentally friendly their processes are. The shift in the focus of both retailers and consumers to be more sustainable in their production and purchasing is bringing us closer to an eco-friendlier future, hopefully one without harmful material waste.

What is Sustainable Packaging?

Simply put, it refers to packaging that is eco-friendly and doesn’t add any further damage to the environment or contribute to the diminishing of natural resources. 

According to The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), the following criteria must be included to be considered sustainable packaging:

  1. Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its lifecycle.
  2. Meets market criteria for performance and cost.
  3. Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy.
  4. Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials.
  5. Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.
  6. Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle.
  7. Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy.
  8. Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed-loop cycles.
Girl holding Lovia tote bag labeled "Trash Bag"
Image via Lovia

The SPC states that if the packaging design “can be transformed into a closed loop flow of packaging materials in a system that is economically robust and provides benefit throughout its life cycle,” it can be assumed a sustainable product.

To ensure packaging is sustainable, it will require more analysis and further investigation into design, materials, processing, and lifespan. This is a relatively new venture for businesses and will only continue to improve as we learn more about how it’s done. You may recall companies using phrases such as “go green” or “eco-friendly” in their brand manifesto, which may be true, but it might not include packaging. 

Going forward, if we make a more conscious effort to not only use sustainable products, but also use sustainable packaging, we will begin to see a significant reduction in our carbon footprint.

How to Make Your Packaging More Sustainable

Use recycled or reusable packaging to ship your products. When you capitalize on using recycled materials it also helps to keep recyclable components in motion for longer. Also consider designing packaging that can serve another purpose other than just being a vessel for your product, for example; sustainable branded tote bags. Who doesn’t love a good tote bag right? 

What about plant based packaging?  In the past few years there has been a surge in plant based packaging options, which makes finding alternatives to harmful packaging so much easier! Businesses can gravitate towards biodegradable options from compressed plant fibers, such as mushrooms and coconuts. These materials are most often a waste derivative from industries such as farming, so this immensely helps to decrease waste. 

Try reduced packaging! Over packaging is a serious problem in the ecommerce realm, do we really need packing peanuts to ship a pillow? Most likely not. Along with reducing waste, you would also be saving money by spending less on packaging products! 

Ever heard of a paper alternative? We have and we’re into it. Made from resources such as bamboo or sugarcane, these alternatives to paper are gaining popularity quickly! Along with replacing paper, you can also look into soy-based inks and other alternatives to use for any printed text. 

P.S keep an eye out for eco-credentials, this will let you know whether or not a business has been certified by The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Image via Purple Magazine

What You Need to Know about Sustainable Packaging Materials

Stella McCartney sustainable packaging
Gif via Stella McCartney

Biodegradable Packing Peanuts

Made from naturally sourced starches, they are entire plant-based and biodegradable! These alternative packing peanuts will disband in water, removing any chance of ending up in bodies of water. That being said, if a critter were to ingest one of these starch puffs, they wouldn’t suffer any life threatening health risks.

Corrugate Bubble Wrap

Made from upcycled cardboard, this option gives cardboard another opportunity to be used, rather than disposing or recycling it. Tiny incisions are made in the cardboard to create an accordion like appearance and results in protection against shocks much like plastic bubble wrap would. Only downside is you don’t have any bubbles to pop!

Air Pillows

Small bags that can be inflated and are ideal for filling gaps in boxes for extra protection around your item! They cut down on the amount of plastic needed to pack and ship a product safely and they’re biodegradable.

Recycled Paper Products

All of these sustainable filler products are great for sustainable packaging, but what do they go in? Cardboard boxes have been industry standard for as long as we can remember, but if they continue to be sourced unsustainably we’re going to have a serious problem. Paper products are easily some of the most recyclable products out there, but to ensure your packaging is eco-conscious try to source out post-consumer materials or materials marked as FSC certified.

Corn Starch Based Packaging

Maize plants naturally have plastic-like characteristics and provide a great alternative to non-sustainable packaging. Corn based packaging can be manipulated to replicate a variety of traditional packaging options, so you can feel confident that your item will arrive intact.

Mushroom Based Sustainable Packaging

A cost effective eco-friendly packaging alternative that’s great to ship small items. It’s also 100% biodegradable and non-toxic! It is sourced from agricultural waste and bonded together with mushroom roots, also called mycelium. If you already compost at home, you could also give this a try.  After it has set, dried and been forged into your desired shape, it’s ready to package your product and be sent off.

Seaweed/Algae Based Packaging

Because of its gelatinous properties, this form of packaging is already being translated into several forms for eco-friendly materials. Recently, a team of designers received an award for their innovative sustainable seaweed packaging.

Noissue commits to 100% compostable, sustainable packaging
Image via Noissue

We Got This

Image via @fash_rev on Instagram

The fashion industry is just as guilty for their contribution to pollution as any other industry. Single-use plastic in packaging has hit an all-time high due to COVID-19, forcing shopping to move primarily online. Before the pandemic, many companies were moving towards a greener, more sustainable packaging process. However, due to significant losses in revenue, this has come to an abrupt halt. Some countries have even gone as far as to lift bans on single-use plastics to help businesses supply their increased online demand.  

Life in plastic ain’t so fantastic, but we’re learning!  We now know that plastic can take decades to break down and discharges destructive elements into the soil and air. We also know it puts a range of species at risk, including us. We know we can do better. With so many sustainable packaging options being discovered and introduced to the market, we are confident that single-use plastics will be banned across the world. Soon, there will be no need for them.

So, if you have the option, try eco-friendly packaging alternatives as a retailer, or be more mindful of your purchasing choices as a consumer. 

Don’t worry, we made a promise to our environment to continue educating ourselves, so we can educate you. So, stick with us, we got you!

We at ÀLA.HAUSSE are committed to providing fashion lovers with a multifunctional ecosystem in which they can practice more sustainable consumption habits. Via ÀLA.HAUSSE‘s Multi-functional and Multi-purposeful Fashion Ecosystem- BUY/SELL/RENT/LEND/ (swap BETA 2021) mobile application, INDIVIDUALS & brands ( BETA 2021) are encouraged to REBUY, RESELL, REUSE and UP-CYCLE their personal “Clossets” aka Clothing Assets, along with overstock inventory and samples. Through this consumerism habit shift we indirectly slow down the urgency on fashion’s carbon footprint, aiding sustainability as a whole.

BETA Early Access Application Now Open for CA Fashion Lovers: Apply Now for LAST CALL 


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