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Green Packing and Shipping

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Green Packing and Shipping

Itís 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 isnít so straightforward. Here are a number of simple green packing and shipping tips that go easy on the environment, reindeer not required.

Greenest Packing

  • 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 itís a done deal. The resources used or pollution caused by its creation canít be taken back. The best thing you can do at this point is extend the productís useful life.
  • If you canít 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, donít use fabric to pad withóit is heavier than other packaging material and can add significant weight to your package.

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Read more: Christmas, Crafts & Hobbies, Green Gifts, Holidays, Holidays & Gifts, Life, , ,

By Melissa Breyer, Producer, Care2 Green Living

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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8:37AM PDT on Apr 8, 2015

Using the smallest box for your needs is very useful. Not only does it save the materials, used for shipping, it makes it so that your stuff doesn't roll around the box as much as it's being shipped. I've never heard of using plain popped corn for packaging materials. It's always a good idea to try to use the materials on hand to get the job done.

1:14AM PDT on Apr 9, 2011

Thanks for the article.

9:07AM PST on Feb 23, 2011

The problem with using food..popcorn ect.. is that rodents and bugs like it too. What a nightmare to open a beautifully thought out gift only to be shocked with droppings or crawling insects surprising you on the way to the trash can.

10:38PM PST on Dec 17, 2010

Remember that items such as holiday candies (peppermints, marshmallows, etc.) serves as great packing material. Plus, if you are purchasing more than one gift for someone, put them in the same box with festive fillers for one awesome gift. Reuseable bags are a god-send, and recycled aluminum gift card tins are great ideas, too! Also, many companies (Starbucks included) offer gift cards made of recycled materials. I hope these help as well!

12:37AM PST on Dec 13, 2010

than for the great information

12:09PM PST on Dec 9, 2010

Hate to be a downer, but popcorn is actually a problem for birds, as it is easily lodged in throats. Having rescued and cared for (successfully) many birds for decades, I also learned this. I myself in the dark before. So, use popcorn if you want and compost, but do not feed to birds. Good tips and intentions; we are all trying to do what is best, I know!

11:58AM PST on Dec 9, 2010

These are awesome ideas! I love the idea of using popcorn as packing material!

6:48AM PST on Dec 9, 2010

Popcorn sounds and tastes good.

3:37AM PST on Dec 9, 2010

Thanks, great information for the holiday season!

1:18AM PST on Dec 9, 2010

Thank you, Melissa! Mmmm, that popcorn looks good!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

I don't have any scented cosmetic, and I am not tossing my perfume, though I don't wear it much.

Thanks for this useful information.

Sorry, I don't have anything to add.

Cute thanks for sharing


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