It’s easy for Santa. The sleigh has zero emissions and apparently offers such a smooth ride that packing peanuts are not required. For the rest of us with gifts to deliver across town or across the globe, being green isn’t so straightforward. Here are a number of simple green packing and shipping tips that go easy on the environment, reindeer not required.
- Reuse shipping materials. It is best environmental practice to reuse a box made of virgin trees rather than to buy a new box made from recycled content, ditto for packing materials. Shipping materials that already exist represent embodied energy. Energy was already used to manufacture that box or bubble wrap, so it’s a done deal. The resources used or pollution caused by its creation can’t be taken back. The best thing you can do at this point is extend the product’s useful life.
- If you can’t remove old tape or labels from a box, turn it inside out. Break open the bottom seams and the side seam, which you can see inside the box. Refold the box inside out and secure the seams with packing tape.
- Use the smallest box that fits your needs. Besides using less resources for the box itself, this also reduces the amount of materials required to protect the cargo.
- Use old bubble wrap, packing peanuts, tissue paper, boxes, crumbled newspaper and magazine pages.
- To safely nestle smaller gifts, use popped popcorn. Use plain popcorn and the recipient can compost them, or feed them to the birds!
- Run damaged or over-reused wrapping paper through the shredder for festive packing material.
- Make the packaging part of the gift. Use tea towels, guest towels, a scarf, etc. as part of the gift and wrap fragile items in them.
- Unless it is part of the gift, don’t use fabric to pad with—it is heavier than other packaging material and can add significant weight to your package.