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Green Packing and Shipping


  • Buy local. If possible, purchase products online from a store thatís located near your recipient to prevent the need for long-distance shipping.
  • Prepare your packages early enough so that you can send by ground rather than air; ground shipping is more efficient than air freight.
  • Operator selection: Chose a shipping company that operates in an environmentally preferable way. FedEx operates a fleet of 93 hybrid trucks in 12 cities, while UPS has purchased 50 hybrid-electric trucks. Of course, you canít be sure that your particular package is being shipped by one of the hybrid trucks, but at least youíre giving business to companies that are working towards sustainability.
  • If you are shipping within a city, consider using a courier service that uses bicycles.
  • Carbon Offsets: Check to see if the retailer you are purchasing from offers carbon offsets for shipping, which many now do. Unfortunately, if the retailer does not have this option, there is no carbon calculator for individuals to estimate the carbon created from the shipment of their products, but you can create some offsets of your own. Be green in a way that you wouldnít have otherwise: Commit to biking somewhere X number of times, buy a local product even though you were going to buy an imported product, or finally switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Although these carbon offsets can not be accurately calculated, itís good a good frame of mind to get into!

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.

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