Shop Etsy

Green Shipping Materials for the Holidays

Nov 9, 2011

by Karen Brown

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

It’s an unavoidable fact: shipping gifts long distances has an environmental impact. However, you can you lower some of that impact by using recycled and biodegradable materials when packing holiday gifts. Here are some suggestions for alternative shipping materials that usually cost less than their conventional counterparts, and are fun and convenient to use!

Karen Brown

Pop it! My all-time favorite packing material is homemade, hot air popcorn. It is cheapest from the bulk bin. You can pop as little or as much as you need in minutes — just allow it to cool before using. It is convenient to store because the unpopped kernels take up so little space. To use, fill your box halfway with popped corn, shake lightly to settle the contents, add your gift, then overfill the box slightly with more corn. Push down gently to close. The compressed kernels will lock together and form a lightweight mass that protects your gift during shipment. Popcorn can be reused at least once, and then worked into the garden or compost. Please consider using organic popcorn if they carry it at your store.

Karen Brown

Reuse that box or envelope, then tell us about it. When you use a recycled box or shipping envelope, how will your recipient know whether you are environmentally minded or maybe just too cheap to care? Tell them! Use a label that brands your values — make it as funny or serious as you like. If you use biodegradable or recycled packing material, include a card that shares information about your good choices.

Karen Brown

Shop elsewhere. To save money and find something truly biodegradable, skip the packing store and pay a visit to your local landscape outlet, feed supply, or roastery. Materials there often cost pennies on the dollar compared to conventional supplies. Coffee husks, curly wood shavings, rice hulls, and paper-thin nut shells like chestnuts are clean, lightweight, beautiful alternatives that are often fragrant and soulful to boot.

Visit the library. My local library often gives away publications that have passed their date of usefulness. These include almanacs, calendars, and even encyclopedias. Much cleaner than newspaper, these free, recycled pages can be crumpled or accordion-folded to make packing materials, and might even carry a theme that matches your gift.

Try wrapping your gift just a little differently. Instead of wrapping small items with paper and tape, consider wrapping them “bonbon-style.” The twisted paper ends provide an insulating cushion —you won’t need extra padding in the box and you won’t need tape to close the bundles. Trim edges with pinking shears for a finished look. Soft goods like pillows and knits don’t need padding, just a close-fitting box and a piece of tissue.

Karen Brown

Throw nothing away. Yesterday I saw a tiny bag of shredded paper padding that cost several dollars. Your own shredded junk mail costs nothing and is ideal packaging material. Look around. What do you have that you might otherwise throw away that is clean, lightweight, suitable for shipping and free?

A few more tips:

  • Try to avoid plastic in all its forms, including plastic-lined envelopes and boxes. There is almost always a better alternative.
  • Use natural brown kraft paper and cardboard whenever you can. Kraft uses the fewest chemicals when it is manufactured. I love the look and in my taste, it’s the most chic choice.
  • Experiment with using less tape and glue. Adhesives are petroleum-derived and cannot be recycled. Tape and glue can damage wrapping paper, making it less convenient to reuse.
  • As tempting as it may be to pad boxes with wild-harvested autumn leaves, dried grasses, or twigs, please use these elements only when you know for certain that your gift will stay within the immediate area. Many plant and animal diseases have been spread when insects and microorganisms that cling invisibly to plants are unwittingly shipped across bioregional or state lines.

What’s your top packing tip? Share in the comments!

4 Featured Comments

  • karoart

    karoart said 4 years ago Featured

    I love this article! I am always looking for the most eco-friendly solutions for all my packaging and here's what I do: - I use recycled brown paper cards for my business cards and tags; I stamp them with my logo, etc. - For gift wrapping I use sturdy strips of leftover wallpaper that I pick up from DIY stores as well as lovely certified recycled brown paper bags - the envelopes are made of recycled maps that came out of use - and all padding, although plastic bubble wrap, has been used before and comes from a friendly local shop (the goods they received was wrapped in it) The nutshells look amazing, great idea!

  • blainedesign

    blainedesign said 4 years ago Featured

    Thanks, everybody, for such great comments. On popcorn, I appreciate the remarks about possible food sensitivity, however, many commercial packing materials today actually contain some corn or corn products -- like corn starch -- and therefore I feel it is safest to use the purest form I can find. I've never had problems with organic. The energy used to pop it, as far as I can tell, is probably less than that used to produce many conventional materials, But it's all about trade-offs and there may be no "perfect" solutions. My experience has been that recycling and using simple materials with minimal processing usually works best -- and dialogs like this one, where knowledgable people can exchange experience and collective wisdom is one of the best ways to move things forward.

  • RedBirdMakes

    RedBirdMakes said 4 years ago Featured

    Great read! I absolutely agree with recycling. I too use recycled bits and pieces for my packaging. I collect & keep packaging from my postal deliveries, I collect my neighbours cardboard recycling. I love getting a good handful of bubblewrap everytime I visit the supermarket - they usually use it as wadding to protect the fruit in the boxes...what's more is, it's absolutely free and would only be thrown away anyway! I also like to leave a little handwritten note to my buyers about the recycled packaging and ask if they can keep the ethos of recycling going too...

  • simpledream2

    simpledream2 said 4 years ago Featured

    Great article and ideas from the comments. My quilts are made from recycled fabrics so I continue that with shipping with recycled items. Another place to get shredded matte paper is from your local hospital or business because they have so much they would be willing to give away or sell VERY cheaply to keep from paying to have it hauled away. I also grab boxes from the shipping/receiving department from work and put them to use once again. Recycling shipping materials saves me money that I can pass on to the customer. If any of you can find a builder that uses Tyvek brand moisture barrier and can get some scraps from them you can sew, yes sew, up your own mailer envelopes, plus they make your items moisture resistant and you can even sew the open end/flap to keep the tape use to a minimum Take a look inside the flap of those at the post office to see the Tyvek brand. Make your own custom size mailer envelopes and help your local builders recycle their scraps at the same time.

192 comments

  • mamif

    mamif said 4 years ago

    great tips.

  • pulpsushi

    pulpsushi said 4 years ago

    These are great ideas. I have so many fliers just growing in a pile on my dining table. :)

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 4 years ago

    Haha, popcorn. ACTUAL popcorn :)

  • didyoumakethat

    didyoumakethat said 4 years ago

    love the popcorn!

  • AvianInspirations

    AvianInspirations said 4 years ago

    Great ideas for the holiday gift season. Thanks!

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 4 years ago

    Thanks for the tips!!!

  • Colettesboutique

    Colettesboutique said 4 years ago

    So many great ideas! I am not sure if I will use popcorn though ;-)

  • thelittlemarket

    thelittlemarket said 4 years ago

    Great tips. Love the popcorn!!!

  • BRHDesigns

    BRHDesigns said 4 years ago

    Wow! I would never have thought to use popcorn! Thanks for the ideas!

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 4 years ago

    The real popcorn is a great idea~ we use 80% recycled boxes and foam wrapping paper~ our postal lady saves boxes for us too~ Thanks for your tips~!

  • jmayoriginals

    jmayoriginals said 4 years ago

    great tips! doubt i'd ever use popcorn though

  • LittleSmilesBoutique

    LittleSmilesBoutique said 4 years ago

    I would steer clear of using edible items like popcorn as packaging supplies due to potential allergies. I know its not that common but I remember knowing a person who was severely allergic to corn and any by-products. It would be a deadly mistake if popcorn was used to send him anything. The other ideas are great, though! Thanks.

  • jammerjewelry

    jammerjewelry said 4 years ago

    Wonderful info, thanks for sharing.

  • MerCurios

    MerCurios said 4 years ago

    Great tips. I LOVE the popcorn idea!! You have definitely given me something to think about. Shipping jewelry across the country I use bubble envelopes, because it is convenient and keeps the jewelry safe. There has definitely got be a better way. I'm sure there is an environmentally friendly packaging option that 1. will keep the item safe and 2. will not sacrifice the integrity of the brand. I'm open to all suggestions. xo, MJ

  • brookiesbath

    brookiesbath said 4 years ago

    Awesome! I hate using bubble wrap.

  • AnElegantSolution

    AnElegantSolution said 4 years ago

    Brilliant! I have been recycling shipping materials as much as I can, and making it "fun" and "chic" is the way to go!

  • oldenhome

    oldenhome said 4 years ago

    These are great ideas, and I love the bon-bons. But I'd be careful using food as packaging - some people might be turned off or allergic. And using a card insert to announce the box's recycled status will add more carbon footprint to the packaging, unless the card itself is made from reused paper. I love this idea though, so maybe invest in a rubber stamp?

  • calloohcallay

    calloohcallay said 4 years ago

    I use recycled boxes and newspaper for packing materials but haven't been able to give up my bubble wrap for fragile items--used when I can get it, but I also go through rolls of it. I just don't think popcorn would be much of a substitute (not to mention the allergies). But I like the twisty idea for items that aren't too fragile.

  • Niftic

    Niftic said 4 years ago

    Terrific tips! I'm a recycle junkie, but never thought to tell my customers! Thank YOU!

  • Apseed

    Apseed said 4 years ago

    Wow! The popcorn idea is the funiest idea I've ever seen.

  • karoart

    karoart said 4 years ago Featured

    I love this article! I am always looking for the most eco-friendly solutions for all my packaging and here's what I do: - I use recycled brown paper cards for my business cards and tags; I stamp them with my logo, etc. - For gift wrapping I use sturdy strips of leftover wallpaper that I pick up from DIY stores as well as lovely certified recycled brown paper bags - the envelopes are made of recycled maps that came out of use - and all padding, although plastic bubble wrap, has been used before and comes from a friendly local shop (the goods they received was wrapped in it) The nutshells look amazing, great idea!

  • Verdurebydesign

    Verdurebydesign said 4 years ago

    All my wrapping is manufacture's offcuts. I hadn't thought of tell buyers this. Thanks. The food packaging is a good idea but would there be a problem with international quarantine?

  • christyscrafts

    christyscrafts said 4 years ago

    I love the kitten sign. I use recycled shipping materials every chance I can. I have this posted in my store policies however I often wonder if the receipent will just think as you said " I am too cheap to care" > My recycled boxes will have a similiar notice on them going forward ! thank you !!

  • studiokgraphicdesign

    studiokgraphicdesign said 4 years ago

    Wow, I never thought of some of these ideas... great!

  • MayaRune

    MayaRune said 4 years ago

    clean rags! old flannel shirt cut with pinking shears to wrap the gift and note to the receiver to "please resuse me to dust or clean". cut a long sliver to ake ribbons to tie up bon bon style too. flannel too plain? how about and old organza or silk/satin dress that cant be recycled. hmmm...

  • anniestuart

    anniestuart said 4 years ago

    The other day I got a package from someone who used what looked like cotton or the interior of a pillow / comforter. Definitely "used looking". Hurrah for being eco-friendly, but OMG GROSS.

  • melodieperfumes

    melodieperfumes said 4 years ago

    Although mentioned in the article to steer clear of plastic-accidents from delivery services occur where packages have been left in puddles, the snow, and mud. many people live where mail is not delivered in a box but thrown on a doorstep-winter inclement weather easily ruins gifts! i know from experience. Also use waterproof labels for the same reason-inkjet labels run when wet! Food can be a problem for people in rural areas. Raccoons and lovely animals would love to eat those tasty popcorn filled packages! Shippers should state that they use recycled packaging in their info, and if they use popcorn to state that as well.

  • seb8351

    seb8351 said 4 years ago

    Popcorn? Really? Thanks so much for the lovely gift! Erm, and the ants...

  • mbueb

    mbueb said 4 years ago

    Practical AND adorable. Great ideas, Karen!!

  • theenchantedcabbage

    theenchantedcabbage said 4 years ago

    Ditto on the avoiding food stuffs for shipping (nuts, popcorn, husks, etc), unless they are a close friend or family member. I had a friend receive a box with popcorn packing and she had an instant severe asthma attack once she opened it. Thanks for promoting environmentally-responsible packaging!

  • zakonek

    zakonek said 4 years ago

    Awesome article, love the popcorn idea! That certainly makes me rethink the use of bobble wrap, which I recycle from the items that are shipped to me. However, I prefer biodegradable! :) Thanks for a great article...

  • HerBeautifulLife

    HerBeautifulLife said 4 years ago

    Great post! I recycle my shipping materials as well, I use the brown paper bags that my groceries come in. I have to specifically ask the baggers in the checkout line to use paper bags, but it saves me TONS on shipping materials because they are completely free! And then I don't have loads of those plastic ones piling up anywhere either. Thanks for all the great tips!

  • woollybloomdesign

    woollybloomdesign said 4 years ago

    Thank you and the other commenters so much! I always save, resuse and try to come up with ways to safely and eco-friendly and economically ship. Can't believe I never thought of the airpop popcorn as we pop it all the time for our pet pig! Also, the adorable kitten label is a great way to pass the message on.

  • LadyCharlotte

    LadyCharlotte said 4 years ago

    Wow, I love the tips for using recycled items! I recycle all my boxes - when not in use - to my locally-owned shipping store. I do, however, stop at cereal boxes, although they make great liners for things like shipping photos and patterns, even beading needles - anything that you want to keep from bending. And they are also good for making cut out patterns (a trick I learned from a jeweler). I love the sticker. That's a great idea!!!

  • studiorandom

    studiorandom said 4 years ago

    If you are going to use plant materials for packaging, please mention in your listings and shop policies (do it both places) exactly which materials you use in case a potential buyer has allergies. I prefer natural materials to hydrocarbons, but one advantage the plastics have is people are normally not allergic to them. It's easy to forget about allergic people if you're not living with one--my little girl's dad has really opened my eyes on this issue.

  • LemonySweet

    LemonySweet said 4 years ago

    Not only do I ship for my shop, but I send packages to my dad weekly - yummy snack, I am sure he would love the popcorn. My husband brings home boxes from work and I am thinking of experimenting with string and twine instead of tape to close my packages. These are all great tips. Thanks so much!

  • vecellio

    vecellio said 4 years ago

    I loved your article on packaging. My mother always used brown paper to wrap packages in and then tied them with twine. What do you use to tied them with now that the P.O. won't let you use twine? If not tape - then what?

  • myvintagewhimsy

    myvintagewhimsy said 4 years ago

    Popcorn?? Um what about rats chewing into your package while it's in transit? Disgusting. And I don't care how 'green' it is, I don't want to open a purchase & see stale popcorn surrounding it. Even popped with just air, popcorn smells. No thanks.

  • BarkingSandsVintage

    BarkingSandsVintage said 4 years ago

    I just sent out a large, fragile item and I'm proud to say I used all recycled materials! As CaloohCallay said , previously though, I haven't found a good alternative to the evils of bubble wrap for most fragile pieces.

  • volkerwandering

    volkerwandering said 4 years ago

    Don't forget the thrift stores! Just this past week I hauled a huge bag of gift boxes away from my local catholic charities for just $2! I love it! Three of these boxes cost this much at a dollar store.

  • sherrytruitt

    sherrytruitt said 4 years ago

    The energy used to pop popcorn doesn't sound eco friendly to me at all. I would never package my items in a food product. You don't know what allergies your recipient might have, not to mention the family pet chewing his way through a box or mailer. You can use all sorts of biodegradable packaging, including bubble wrap made from soy. While many sellers don't mind reused packaging, most buyers expect more. We are after all competing in the world marketplace. I use post consumer recycled materials. They are however made into brand new boxes and mailers.

  • PolClary

    PolClary said 4 years ago

    Great tips. My daughter used some of the gray paper they used to wrap some bowls she bought in. She stamped them and used them as a cute, custom wrapping paper.

  • SoapBoutique

    SoapBoutique said 4 years ago

    Nice!! Hate all the shipping material's going waste.

  • TessCreates

    TessCreates said 4 years ago

    While in theory avoiding plastic is nice, it's not very practical. I wrap everything I ship in clean, used plastic grocery bags, produce bags, and other types of bags and tape them shut. They're lightweight (very little additional shipping costs, if any) and they help protect the item from moisture damage. FAR too many postal carriers carelessly leave boxes and packages on folks' doorsteps, even in bad weather. With a plastic-wrapped item, even if the package's outer wrapping/box is damaged by rain or snow, the item will remain clean and dry. As for using less tape, I'd rather my labels be FIRMLY affixed with clear packing tape than just lightly taped or glued on. That way I have better assurance they will actually be delivered and not wind up in the dead letter office. Popcorn? Yuk. It's stinky and anything packed in it that's not first wrapped in plastic is also going to smell. Plus it's no longer edible if someone wanted to do that after it's had something that may not be 100% clean packed in it. That little ceramic do you show as an example: how often was that handled with not-perfectly-clean hands? And using PAPER as a packing material? No thanks. It gets heavy quickly if you have to use a lot and postage is costly enough as it is. Why expect customers to pay for that extra cost? I'll take bubble wrap and lightweight foam sheeting any old day...which I haven't paid for in years, since I use recycled. Wadded-up plastic grocery bags work really well, too. All that stuff...plastic bags, bubblewrap, etc. is already in existence so we might as well use it instead of its immediately being tossed in the garbage. I have a rubber stamp I use on all my invoices that tells my customers I recycle. I can only hope they do too. The only shipping materials I've purchased in the last five years are manila envelopes for magazines and thin books, and tape. EVERYTHING else I use is recycled.

  • thecyclingartist

    thecyclingartist said 4 years ago

    I've had many paintings arrive in rain, and customers were *thrilled* that I plastic wrap the artwork inside the box. Please consider this. Especially in the USA it seems postmen leave things on doorsteps in any weather. Also, we should never use edible or plant materials to ship internationally - your package could simply be seized and destroyed. :(

  • Rewoodtoys

    Rewoodtoys said 4 years ago

    There are some great ideas in here! Never thought about rain though....

  • RedMarionette

    RedMarionette said 4 years ago

    The kitty label is adorable! I am thinking something up like that right now since I reuse as much packing materials as I can! :)

  • RivalryTime

    RivalryTime said 4 years ago

    Great ideas.

  • craftaria

    craftaria said 4 years ago

    Great article and tips. LOVED IT!

  • BloomingTulip

    BloomingTulip said 4 years ago

    I believe there is now actually a biodegradable popcorn, not the real stuff, the packing kind. So I guess that's an option for those who don't like real popcorn or the non-biodegradable. I've only shipped one thing since I'm brand new to Etsy so this article gives me tons to think about. I really love the idea of using the paper bags from the grocery and also reusing the plastic bags if need be.

  • TessCreates

    TessCreates said 4 years ago

    I think I should clarify: I DO use paper as a WRAPPING material, just not a packing-to-cushion material. A great source of sturdy paper is gift bags. I snap them up in thrift shops and hound friends, family, and my husband's coworkers for theirs after Christmas. Some gift wrap is sturdy enough to use as shipping-wrapping. The Post Office does not allow ANY boxes or packages to be tied with twine. My guess is that they handle such huge amounts of packages that twine is too liable to get snagged on something and slow down the process. As much as we all would like to be more eco-friendly with our packaging, I think we're pretty much stuck with using recycled materials that already exist unless we're willing to shell out the cost of new shipping materials made from completely-recycled materials and then pass that extra cost on to our customers. As for customers "expecting better," I've NEVER had a customer complain about my packaging. It's really nice to have some pretty package to unwrap but, as a customer myself, I didn't buy the packaging, I bought what's IN it.

  • JumpUp

    JumpUp said 4 years ago

    It's great to see Etsy promoting eco-friendly ways to package things for mail but I agree with those who've commented about the popcorn idea - the effects of allergies can be serious - fatal, even - it would be crazy to risk causing that level of harm through packaging with nut husks or popcorn. There are various great alternatives though, the idea about concertina-ed paper is new to me, it sounds very effective and could be very attractive. I think it's possible to find ways of packaging in an eco-friendly way without making the package look scruffy or 'cheap'. I'm using old tissue from outdated sewing patterns to wrap my items, it seems to be effective.

  • floradouville

    floradouville said 4 years ago

    Very interesting article. But I agree with melodieperfumes and TessCreates though, I send art prints and paper goods, and my customers are very happy I protect them in plastic sleeves, some envelopes arrive ruined and wet, but the calendar inside and all the little goodies are in perfect condition. I would love to find another alternative for these plastic sheets I buy though, I don't know what kind of thing I could recycle that would do the trick? Thanks to everyone for sharing about this anyway! :)

  • DollFromTheAttic

    DollFromTheAttic said 4 years ago

    I think I'd use the popcorn (food) as a fun surprise thing for friends, not for customers. And I always love love the holidays and birthdays because everyone knows to give me their pretty, shiny gift bags and tissue paper. I ship everything in gift bags taped nicely shut if I can. I shipped something in an Abercrombie and Fitch bag once...and what girl doesn't love to see those sexy shirtless men, even if it's just in their mailbox? O wait, maybe that's even better ;p

  • blainedesign

    blainedesign said 4 years ago Featured

    Thanks, everybody, for such great comments. On popcorn, I appreciate the remarks about possible food sensitivity, however, many commercial packing materials today actually contain some corn or corn products -- like corn starch -- and therefore I feel it is safest to use the purest form I can find. I've never had problems with organic. The energy used to pop it, as far as I can tell, is probably less than that used to produce many conventional materials, But it's all about trade-offs and there may be no "perfect" solutions. My experience has been that recycling and using simple materials with minimal processing usually works best -- and dialogs like this one, where knowledgable people can exchange experience and collective wisdom is one of the best ways to move things forward.

  • RedWalrusShoppe

    RedWalrusShoppe said 4 years ago

    these are so clever and beautiful!!!

  • OffTheHooks

    OffTheHooks said 4 years ago

    I am concerned about the use of popcorn- this is a terrible waste of food- I know it's just popcorn, but the idea of using food as a disposable material to pack breakable items with just seems like a slap in the face to the many many people who struggle to find enough food to eat daily. I like the use of the second hand paper- almost everyone has a shredder these days!

  • retroreclaim

    retroreclaim said 4 years ago

    I love seeing recycled packaging in my orders, and I also like to use old newspapers, when I have recived old newspapers, I see what other cities are reading about! great article..

  • PixelSicle

    PixelSicle said 4 years ago

    I have tried using Popcorn, the problem I find is that it dehydrates and thus you lose a good portion of cushioning while it is transit. I am definitely going to look on CL for a shredder though, can't seem to escape the junk mail no matter what list I am on.

  • PoofyDove

    PoofyDove said 4 years ago

    good tips!

  • ellavanilla

    ellavanilla said 4 years ago

    i save chipboard boxes from cereal and crackers, cut them up for flats or nest one inside another for stability. i also turn them inside out so that i can address right on the box. this way i spend very little on shipping and pass that savings on to customers. i let them know right on my shop info so they won't be surprised.

  • missrubysue

    missrubysue said 4 years ago

    Didn't I just read an article here a few weeks ago about how important packaging is in the shipping world? I may be the only one, but I would FREAK OUT if I found my purchases shipped in a box of popcorn, or yard waste, and even cotton balls. It's just wasteful in itself. At least I can re-use paper and plastic. Long Live Plastic and Paper! AFter all, isn't paper recycled trees? And plastic a byproduct of other chemicals? MIss Ruby Sue

  • Ryanplz

    Ryanplz said 4 years ago

    wonderful and amazing! i ship my items in paper confetti, just like the last example. shredder + old paper = new and super packaging.

  • SweetSincerity

    SweetSincerity said 4 years ago

    I think this idea is fantastic! thanks for the reminder to be eco-conscious in a fun, quirky, stylish way.

  • lobsterandswan

    lobsterandswan said 4 years ago

    Love this, the nut shells are a great idea!

  • thistlebeepottery

    thistlebeepottery said 4 years ago

    I use recycled packing material for shipping items to my customers. I recently blogged about time-saving packing of fragile items to transport for craft shows using recycled packing material. Check it out! http://thistlebeepottery.blogspot.com/2011/10/customized-pottery-packing-for-craft.html

  • ShoeClipsOnly

    ShoeClipsOnly said 4 years ago

    Popcorn? Sounds neat but wouldn't it make the item smell like popcorn? anyone ever used this?

  • godo

    godo said 4 years ago

    lol @anniestuart

  • unflappableproducts

    unflappableproducts said 4 years ago

    Thanks- great ideas! I love popcorn! What a great idea!

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 4 years ago

    Good artice - food for thought - no pun intended :)

  • RedBirdMakes

    RedBirdMakes said 4 years ago Featured

    Great read! I absolutely agree with recycling. I too use recycled bits and pieces for my packaging. I collect & keep packaging from my postal deliveries, I collect my neighbours cardboard recycling. I love getting a good handful of bubblewrap everytime I visit the supermarket - they usually use it as wadding to protect the fruit in the boxes...what's more is, it's absolutely free and would only be thrown away anyway! I also like to leave a little handwritten note to my buyers about the recycled packaging and ask if they can keep the ethos of recycling going too...

  • CraftedbyLizC

    CraftedbyLizC said 4 years ago

    Thank you for the great tips! I recycle boxes all the time, I love the idea of letting the customer know it's recycled. I think I will opt for a stamp instead of a label though. Thank you so much! Liz C

  • samanthabalk

    samanthabalk said 4 years ago

    Great tips! I will be using some of these, thanks! :)

  • CactusCreek

    CactusCreek said 4 years ago

    Great post, we have been using recycled packing materials for the past 2 years. we printed up little notes to include, to let people know why their gift arrived in a "big wheel" box!:) We haven't used the popcorn yet, but I'm sure we will.

  • Alfonzi

    Alfonzi said 4 years ago

    wow, super great post! love to get those juices flowing and figure out ways YOU can creatively re-use items for packaging

  • FluffyFlowers

    FluffyFlowers said 4 years ago

    love bein' green! many of my envelopes are made from book covers. i have access to a lot of them so i decided to turn them into envelopes with a bit of packing tape. the paper is heavy duty and i've never had one fall apart. :)

  • EarthborneArt

    EarthborneArt said 4 years ago

    seb8351 says: Popcorn? Really? Thanks so much for the lovely gift! Erm, and the ants... *** lol, Seb! I use all recycled bubblewrap and peanuts. There is only one really safe way to ship ceramics. The added weight along with the ants and rats would prevent me from using food items.

  • JennasRedRhino

    JennasRedRhino said 4 years ago

    My products create a huge pile of fabric and foam scraps, which seem pretty perfect for packaging. You want 'em? You have 'em!

  • cpercydesign

    cpercydesign said 4 years ago

    Cool idea. I'm not sure popcorn would get through Australian customs.

  • tiedyedmonkeys

    tiedyedmonkeys said 4 years ago

    You can let your customers know that you use recycled materials for shipping in your shops profile. I have had one or two customers who wanted everything new and clean. Most of the time everyone is glad to use recycled materials especially since it keeps the shipping costs at a minimum. I also would be careful about using food as a packing material in case your package is left on a front porch and there is a hungry animal around. Pop corn smells good and yummy.

  • IndigoSageHawaii

    IndigoSageHawaii said 4 years ago

    Great article! I'm still trying to figure out how to be as eco-friendly as possible with my packaging, and still protect my items. Since I sell clothing, wrapping it in plastic seems to be the best way to ensure that my product doesn't get wet during transit. Food items and husks (although I love the popcorn idea) are out. Inks on shredded paper can sometimes smudge and stain clothing. This is definitely a tough one for me. Anyone have any other ideas? For now, I use recycled plastic...

  • selkiecrochet

    selkiecrochet said 4 years ago

    I can't imagine using popcorn!

  • pasin

    pasin said 4 years ago

    Great ideas for the holiday gift season. Thanks!

  • VoleedeMoineaux

    VoleedeMoineaux said 4 years ago

    That cat is amazing!

  • elleestpetite

    elleestpetite said 4 years ago

    These are great ideas. I'm a firm believer in reusing boxes for shipping and crumpled pages of old magazines and junk mail for items that need cushioning.

  • blueridgewoodworking

    blueridgewoodworking said 4 years ago

    I love all the ideas. We ship out mostly large items. We always try to recycle boxes. We visit our local bicycle shop and their boxes are the perfect size to fit a table in. We also have a friend who works for a local tape supply company and we get huge double layer cardboard from him, used but very clean. Some customers have congratulated us on this. I love the idea of packing smaller things in old encyclopedia paper and my shredded junk mail. Always check out your local businesses and ask them if you can have their boxes when they are finished with them. Many of them will be glad to give them away, it saves them time in breaking them down and also many times they have to pay for someone to recycle them. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  • mandymoomoo

    mandymoomoo said 4 years ago

    Does anyone have any other ideas for waterproofing besides plastic bags?

  • brenda45

    brenda45 said 4 years ago

    Great tips, but imo, popcorn and jewelry don't go well together. Granted when I ship my jewelry items, the jewelry pieces are securely wrapped, and the popcorn wouldn't actually touch them, but I don't think popcorn makes for a great presentation for shipping my jewelry. I do like the other tips tho, especially the shredded junk mail. At least the junk mail would be getting some great use! Thank you! :)

  • katienelson

    katienelson said 4 years ago

    I've had to come up with creative ideas on those mornings when I bring everything to work BUT something to wrap and cushion something I'm mailing. But, because I'm the "craftsy" person with plenty of supplies for cube-farm decor, I can always come up with something. I've sent items rolled up in a small piece of craft foam...and once, I had some fleece fabric I got for a project and just cut a section off of the scraps to use...I've got friends who look forward to my packages partly to see what I'm going to wrap things in :o)

  • busterandboo

    busterandboo said 4 years ago

    I hate bubble wrap; these are some great alternatives!

  • BadonHill

    BadonHill said 4 years ago

    What cool and clever ideas! I especially appreciate the idea of including a note explaining that the materials are recycled. I may just start doing that! :)

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 4 years ago

    I've been using recycled packaging for as long as I've been selling online... about 7 years. I shred my junk mail for filler, but I'm fussy... it has to be matt finish paper as the shiny glazed paper just isn't strong enough & tends to stick together & to any other shiny surfaces it can find. The only packaging I buy new is tissue paper (as a first layer covering an item I feel it needs to be pristine, but it's already recycled as well as recyclable) and tape. But you have to be sensible about it, packaging only exists to get your item to the buyer in one piece. Working from the inside out; the item needs an initial layer of clean packaging (new, recycled tissue, paper bag, plastic bag, glassine envelope, etc) the filler needs to be suitable to the object it protects (scrumpled up newspaper beats most things hands down) the box or envelope needs to be sturdy enough to take whatever the postal system can throw at it (most mail sorting is done by machine & involves conveyor belts, "gravity fed" shutes & being thrown in a sack with other packages) it needs to be securely sealed (string is NOT allowed, it gets caught in the machinery to the detriment of both machine & package) and the labels need to be not only legible & weatherproof but also firmly attached (I cover mine in clear parcel tape) Once you've decided on all that you need to be aware of the possibility of avoiding causing allergic reactions in the recipient or sending illegal items abroad. The best advice is to read the shipping material advice available from the Post Office, they should also tell you about items you can NOT send. If you follow their advice & the worst happens, at least you won't have invalidated the insurance you farsightedly bought before dispatch.

  • rushcreekmosaics

    rushcreekmosaics said 4 years ago

    I work in a healthcare facility, and materials management departement get deliveries every day. I asked them to give me boxes and packing supplies and were thrilled with the idea of recycling things that were previously thrown away. Every few weeks I go home with large bags full of plastic peanuts, bubble wrap, boxes, etc. - all different sizes. Everything I get is very clean and sturdy since medical supplies originate in these boxes. My mosaics are of all different sizes and shapes and very fragile and I used to pull my hair out hunting the the right size box, and would spend a fortune to pack my items securely and safely. My new methond saves tremendously on costs, and which I had thought if it sooner.

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 4 years ago

    Thanks for the tips

  • NoFrump

    NoFrump said 4 years ago

    Fantastic! I've been reusing and reupurposing materials for shipping for ages now, so it's nice to see that it's getting a prominent nod! And I love the creative ideas to make it look fun, pretty and intentional, rather than just beat up and cheap. :)

  • eMeLLeS

    eMeLLeS said 4 years ago

    I ship all paper items (cards, invitations, tags, etc). I have had many compliments on my packaging as I re-use all my scraps of paper from all my previous projects into tags and thank you cards. I use all empty cereal boxes, granola bar boxes, taco kit boxes..etc. to make my envelopes more sturdy and not bend while in transit. I also use brown envelopes which have a paper padding instead of the bubble envelopes. I buy them from Staples and they are alot cheaper then the plastic bubblewrap ones!...I have 2 favorite recycling items, an EXPIRED 3 foot roll of paper that my husband brings home from his work as he prints a National newspaper. There is enough paper in this 'end' roll to wrap over 10 big packages. The other uses the same paper that my 4 year old daughter likes to color or draw on while I am working, when she is finished her drawings, I use this to wrap my packages. Some may be surprised to see scribbles and such when they open their package but it's all in good fun right?...There are so many ideas to recycle, you just have to open your eyes.

  • FreshFromtheFlame

    FreshFromtheFlame said 4 years ago

    I love to give gift in odd containers. Tennis ball holders, Nutella container, Godiva boxes, rice containers etc. People seem to really love that the containers are fun too! Love the popcorn idea!

  • StarShineCo

    StarShineCo said 4 years ago

    Great article, thanks for the ideas!

  • RossLab

    RossLab said 4 years ago

    Yep, I do recicle everything I can for my packages:)

  • good4you

    good4you said 4 years ago

    this is right up my ally ... i recycle all my packaging material ! i have a whole room dedicated to it . i feel it is so important and there is so much material around us to reuse . i have my radar on all the time too . whenever i go over my friends houses i might find a box or two laying around . i see a funny vision of myself going through various people's recycling like a funny creature . recycling is a way of life and i think it eventually inspires others to do the same . <3

  • Brooklynlimegreen

    Brooklynlimegreen said 4 years ago

    Its so many great tips. Especially because I run a have a organic and natural product line, I need green alternatives. Thanks so much

  • OrangeTwist

    OrangeTwist said 4 years ago

    Great article and tips as well as comments pointing out the potential problems of using popcorn. I think I'll start adding a note to my packages that lets my buyers know where packaging came from and if it's reused or recycled! I dislike using plastic, but also know, as many others have stated, packages get wet. The first consideration for me is protecting the shipped item from the elements and often times rough handling. I make the envelopes I ship my cards in from cardstock made from 100% recycled post-consumer content. I also cut down boxes to make smaller ones for sets of cards. I get layers of plastic padding from a local restaurant (they get them in their shipments of champagne) and use those as a moisture barrier and for padding. When buying new boxes I always try to purchase those made from 100% recycled PCC, but often that's not an option.

  • LichenStudio

    LichenStudio said 4 years ago

    Thank you for starting this discussion. I'd like to add a few thoughts. Though clever, I think using popcorn as an inexpensive "green" shipping filler is misleading. Corn requires an enormous amount of energy and water to produce, and although you did encourage readers to use organic popcorn, I think the chances are pretty slim that people are going to spend the extra money for an organic food product when the non-organic counterpart is so much less expensive, That being said, pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers are routinely applied in corn production, effecting not only the consumer, but the adjacent watershed and ecosystems. If all of these hidden "costs" are internalized by the shipper, this doesn't seem to be a very eco-friendly choice at all. I have a few alternatives that might be useful. One, I utilize all sorts of grayboard products that might otherwise be discarded or recycled. I disassemble cereal, cracker, and other boxes, turn inside out, reassemble, then decorate with my personalized stamps. I spray paint used Altoid tins for packaging jewelry, and use shredded aspen bark as filler. Everything else is 100% post consumer recycled content. I love the creative ideas. Thanks for the post.

  • underoakstudios

    underoakstudios said 4 years ago

    I state in my policies that I use recycled shipping materials and if it's a gift they would like nicely wrapped in new materials I would be happy to do so if they let me know. I have never had anyone ask me (although with something I know is a gift I do it anyway). My items are very small but I have never bought bubble wrap. There is always enough around. Using shredded junk mail and CLEAN cloth is a great idea.

  • alangood

    alangood said 4 years ago

    I love this discussion! I learned a lot, and am definitely in favor of popcorn. Thanks again, Karen

  • BrittneyWest

    BrittneyWest said 4 years ago

    What great ideas! I will definitely try to reuse waste! "Let the beauty of what you love be what you do."--Rumi

  • MeerkatArt

    MeerkatArt said 4 years ago

    The kitten made me laugh. Such a great idea branding your values and to promote recycled packaging. Love the Bon Bon idea too. Win Win for all.

  • thepapercupcakeshop

    thepapercupcakeshop said 4 years ago

    I love to use marshmallows as packing material, but only for family/loved ones and only when the temperature outside is nowhere near hot enough to melt them! :D Being a person who deals in paper art, I really don't see any alternative to plastic wrapping my work to protect it from possible postmen from hell and/or inclement weather, but I do use recycled packaging, usually from packages sent to me by other sellers right here on etsy.

  • mskillasmile

    mskillasmile said 4 years ago

    This is wonderful information. I was looking to buy some filling the other day and saw how expensive it was. It just so happens that I got a delivery last night, and I reused the stuffing from that delivery for the package I was shipping. Recycling is so good! Thanks for sharing. Tamara :)

  • Inklets

    Inklets said 4 years ago

    Great tips, especially about using popcorn and avoiding leaves!

  • TricksterInTheLight

    TricksterInTheLight said 4 years ago

    Fantastic tips! Although I'm not too sure about using foodstuffs as packaging. The idea is great but I would think a lot of buyers will go "what the...?" which is what I'd say if I never read this post!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 4 years ago

    I really like the popcorn! Can put it outside for the birds to eat too. I use biodegradable eco-chips made from potatoes! They dissolve in water : )

  • ohbabydotcom

    ohbabydotcom said 4 years ago

    Great article!!!

  • chanchala

    chanchala said 4 years ago

    I'm not too sure about putting a label on the outside which says the materials are recycled - surely that itself is wastage? I have a big cupboard full of packaging materials I recycle and I pick up small boxes wherever I go these days!

  • VintageRescueSquad

    VintageRescueSquad said 4 years ago

    As a seller of vintage items, I'm all about using recycled products for shipping, but have been fearful that buyers will view it as cheap/not caring. I love the idea of including a message that it's in keeping with my business model. I especially love the idea of a stamp, and will do that going forward!!! Thanks.

  • ChaletChic

    ChaletChic said 4 years ago

    I love all the ideas for packaging, but was wondering what recycling items to use for the actual box. It's hard to find a recycled box that fits exactly my item and I'm afraid the box will look tacky if I cut it up and "remake" it into a smaller size. I want to recycle more, but still want my boxes to look very nice. For my jewelry bags I have taken leftover "sturdy" file folders. I just cut them to the size I want and tape them along the sides. I then make a separate lid. They look quite nice. I then wrap them in brown paper, but my concern is whether they are strong enought to go thru the postal service. I'd love to hear any suggestions on boxing items. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  • BanglewoodSupplies

    BanglewoodSupplies said 4 years ago

    I love this! Truly. I have been using recycled envelopes. But, I know there is much more I can do. Thanks for getting me thinking more about this.

  • oaxacaborn

    oaxacaborn said 4 years ago

    I'm all for clever, green, packaging! Some very creative ideas here. For those sellers using, or planning to use, popcorn as packaging -- would you consider letter the buyer know about the popcorn prior to shipping? I'm allergic to corn, and would be unable to use an item which had been packaged in corn.

  • WearTheCanvas

    WearTheCanvas said 4 years ago

    Thank you so much for this article! I only use recycled boxes, and am always worried about what my customers think if their is a sticker or writing on it from previous shipments/packaging! I am definitely going to start putting a note saying it is a recycled box!

  • VintageNChic

    VintageNChic said 4 years ago

    I love the shredded paper idea. I recycle so much junk mail. I could be reusing it! Thanks.

  • StormyOrange

    StormyOrange said 4 years ago

    Great ways to use eco friendly material. And it's very aesthetic as well.

  • HouseOfMoss

    HouseOfMoss said 4 years ago

    Having worked at The UPS Store ("Pack & Ship Promise!") and a mailroom, I feel the need to remind everyone that if you use loose packing material like popcorn or nutshells or shredded paper, make sure you have it in a thick, tightly-packed layer– and you need to wrap your breakables in several layers of something like reused bubble wrap or lots of crumpled paper. Eco-friendliness is great (I don't use plastic when packing my shop's items to ship), but if the items don't get there in one piece, it's all for nothing.

  • 2TrickPony

    2TrickPony said 4 years ago

    great inventive ideas. I like especially the idea of taking plain old newspaper and making it look like bon bons. I've chosen for my business to use new post consumer recycled paper boxes and new recycled mailers. great article, this is always a wonderful topic to throw around

  • PlumeandPetals

    PlumeandPetals said 4 years ago

    What a fun way to package things! Love the popcorn idea.

  • ArtWhims

    ArtWhims said 4 years ago

    Rather than printing a label or a card that announces you are being environmentally responsible (You are after all now using more materials when you do this), announce your eco friendly ways on the invoices that you send with your products if you do this - this will save more waste and a time saver since it is on a piece of paper you mail anyway.

  • TheLaughingLlama

    TheLaughingLlama said 4 years ago

    very wise tips...thanks so much. :)

  • courts84

    courts84 said 4 years ago

    LOVE IT! Brings a whole new meaning to packing popcorn! Hmm... Wonder what else I can use???? =)

  • hyfunda

    hyfunda said 4 years ago

    That is such an awesome idea to use popcorn for packaging. Perhaps if you put the popcorn in a back when you ship your pakage then the customer can have a snack as well, yummy Bonus!!

  • JessiesJunk

    JessiesJunk said 4 years ago

    We just started composting. I love the popcorn idea. What a great way to save money and help the enviornment! Thanks for the awesome tips!

  • knottysarena

    knottysarena said 4 years ago

    PoPcorn! LOVE IT!

  • BrendaWattsWoodwork

    BrendaWattsWoodwork said 4 years ago

    These are wonderful tips, I use recycled boxes and wrap always, not only eco friendly but cost effective as well..the kitten label is very clever, I sometimes hope folks are not put off by my reused boxes. Thank you so much !

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 4 years ago

    Thanks for this article! I try to use as much recycled as possible!

  • simpledream2

    simpledream2 said 4 years ago Featured

    Great article and ideas from the comments. My quilts are made from recycled fabrics so I continue that with shipping with recycled items. Another place to get shredded matte paper is from your local hospital or business because they have so much they would be willing to give away or sell VERY cheaply to keep from paying to have it hauled away. I also grab boxes from the shipping/receiving department from work and put them to use once again. Recycling shipping materials saves me money that I can pass on to the customer. If any of you can find a builder that uses Tyvek brand moisture barrier and can get some scraps from them you can sew, yes sew, up your own mailer envelopes, plus they make your items moisture resistant and you can even sew the open end/flap to keep the tape use to a minimum Take a look inside the flap of those at the post office to see the Tyvek brand. Make your own custom size mailer envelopes and help your local builders recycle their scraps at the same time.

  • HighPriestess

    HighPriestess said 4 years ago

    Wow, those are such terrific packing tips. I especially love the idea of popped corn. Soon as my next order arrives, I'll give it a try. Thanks for taking the time to share all these wonderful ideas. Cathy

  • mylabobo

    mylabobo said 4 years ago

    Clever, thanks : )

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 said 4 years ago

    I use recycled sugar cane fiber tissue that I found by accident. Who knew? But for fragile items, the popcorn is just not going to be sufficiently reliable. Using organic popcorn: that's some expensive packing material w/ less than adequate cushioning factor. Skip it. There are plenty of businesses very willing to give or sell cheaply their packing materials. That's recycling that works.

  • PattiTrostle

    PattiTrostle said 4 years ago

    Well this has got me thinking!

  • MerkabaWarrior

    MerkabaWarrior said 4 years ago

    There is a very big natural cosmetics company which has used popcorn for packaging naterial for many years.

  • FreshlyFormed

    FreshlyFormed said 4 years ago

    Wow! Some great ideas here! I am always on the look out to reduce waste in shipping and gift wrapping, but have not heard of many of these solutions before. I have mixed feelings about the popcorn. Food products are expensive to produce. Seems wasteful to use all of the resources involved with irrigation, transportation, fertilizers, and farm subsidies to produce packing material. I haven't found an item yet that can't be safely packed with newspapers. Still some very cute ideas on recycling boxes and getting materials from the landscapers, roasteries, and feed supply stores. I will have to check it out! Thanks!

  • Gridelin

    Gridelin said 4 years ago

    Great tips. I have a set of encyclopedias from the 1950s that I was just going to throw in the recycling bin. Now, I can use them for shipping. Thanks for sharing.

  • ArleenDesign

    ArleenDesign said 4 years ago

    Love this article! I normally use newspaper and add some cute ribbon and tags on it:)

  • mybunnystitches

    mybunnystitches said 4 years ago

    Some great topics here! I'm glad I visited this blog.. There are so many items and great ideas that i like... I could stay in hear for days! I hope to have some visits to my store. I love feed back! Thanks Bunny~

  • AMSkrafts

    AMSkrafts said 4 years ago

    Well noted! We use old boxes as our shipping packages, and we also use the shredded junk mail tip for our packing. I do love the popcorn tip, because we encourage composting and gardening as well, and such a biodegradable packing material is excellent! Thank you so much for sharing this article.

  • OnceUponAGem

    OnceUponAGem said 4 years ago

    Thanks for the cool ideas....

  • woolgatherings

    woolgatherings said 4 years ago

    Not sure if this has been mentioned, but for biodegradable mailers I highly recommend EcoEnclose - http://www.ecoenclose.com . Great product!

  • Charlieandthefox

    Charlieandthefox said 4 years ago

    Ah love it! Doesn't the dachshund look happy too :)

  • mktengineer

    mktengineer said 4 years ago

    Love this!

  • redesignedbyk

    redesignedbyk said 4 years ago

    I have been making my own "pillows" to ship my products safely. I shred junk mail, old phone books and the advertisements in the newspaper that are printed on stiff paper; load a handfull into a plastic store bag and tie. It works great for padding breakables.

  • lauraslastditch

    lauraslastditch said 4 years ago

    My parents live on a busy street. They put a sign out for me reading "Packing Peanuts Wanted." They received many bags of styrofoam packing peanuts, but one day, a couple knocked. "We're interested in the job packing peanuts," they said. My mom had a difficult time explaining to them she wasn't offering employment, but was looking for foam pellets for preparing shipments.

  • snovej

    snovej said 4 years ago

    A cooked, cold potato works as a glue stick. Just peel one end and smear it on. It stays on most materials! I have glued recycled plastic stars on my windows this way. =)

  • VintageOrphanage

    VintageOrphanage said 4 years ago

    Great tips! I'm constantly collecting clean shipping materials to reuse whenever I can! One tip I'm surprised this article didn't mention is that Christmas is coming, and nearly everyone still uses wrapping paper. Most people just throw it away, since most kinds can't be recycled like normal paper can. Last Christmas, I collected every single piece of wadded up gift wrap after presents were opened at all households. I had three trash bags full, and used it for padding my items/as space filler for shipping for about six months before I ran out of it! I'm anxious to collect again this year, and am even considering posting an ad on Craigslist offering to pick up bags of the used gift wrap from others around my town. Keep it out of the landfills as long as possible! :)

  • feelingartsystudio

    feelingartsystudio said 4 years ago

    this is great!!! thank you!

  • darkcycleclothing

    darkcycleclothing said 4 years ago

    These are great tips! Luckily, t-shirts don't need any padding to arrive safely, but we just switched to eco-enclose mailers which are compostable/reusable and biodegradable and I love it. They have not only worked really well, but when someone needs to exchange a size they can just reseal it and send it back in the same package.

  • scarvesalot

    scarvesalot said 4 years ago

    Awesome!

  • EvesLittleEarthlings

    EvesLittleEarthlings said 4 years ago

    I use recycled boxes and paper for all my shipping. But I do also enclose my items in a used plastic bag inside all of that for weather protection. We get a lot of bags here that are just the right size. Our newspaper comes in one every morning. I have a stamp that says "I use recycled packaging" that I bought right here on etsy!

  • takiecrafts

    takiecrafts said 4 years ago

    I try to use recycled boxes and materials for packing as often as possible. Usually when I order stuff from other Etsy shops, I reuse their packaging. These are GREAT and fun tips to get people more aware of how much paper and box waste people go through every day, so it gives us an opportunity to reduce that!

  • FizbanFunDesigns

    FizbanFunDesigns said 4 years ago

    I love the tip about popcorn! And we always have some in a jar on my desk, so it's convenient too! :)

  • LoverOfLifeDesigns

    LoverOfLifeDesigns said 4 years ago

    great tips! The popcorn is a really fun idea!

  • shandke

    shandke said 4 years ago

    I love the idea about popcorn, but I'd want to eat it all before packaging the goods! So I just use all of the boxes and packing materials that come in the mail to me. I order all of the diapers online and many other household essentials, so I never really have to buy many shipping supplies.

  • cyasarcan

    cyasarcan said 4 years ago

    I love this article. I'm planning to use recycled packaging. I've made one tag using recycled brown paper and I love it! http://www.etsy.com/listing/85911562/a-unique-knit-tote-bag-in-fabulous-fall

  • needlenerd

    needlenerd said 4 years ago

    popcorn! how fun! great article, thanks!

  • Corncockle

    Corncockle said 4 years ago

    Great idea but alas, I am one of those people with severe allergies. Latex being the main one. Unfortunately, chestnuts are what is called a cross reactor to latex, so the chestnut shells could send me into anaphylactic shock. Just a word of caution! Love the recycling ethic behind it though.

  • PeruLilyCrafts

    PeruLilyCrafts said 4 years ago

    I have a mixed reaction to the popcorn and chestnut-shell ideas. I agree with some previous comments: GREAT idea for a gift to a friend, BAD idea to ship to a customer. However, I particularly enjoyed the ideas on shredded paper from home, and too-old-to-use encyclopedias and other library books! Very cool. I sell relatively small items in my shop, and so my favorite way to recycle when shipping is by using boxes I come across every day in my house--boxes from cereal, cookies, crackers, granola bars, pasta, powdered sugar, and non-food products, like that new water filter, cell phone, etc. Carefully break the end seals that have been glued, flatten the box, and store it. You can fit a lot of boxes in a small space! The cardboard also makes great envelope stabilizer if you're sending paper goods, so the envelope doesn't bend.

  • vanessaeight

    vanessaeight said 4 years ago

    What a fantastic article, and brilliant comments. Anything that helps us reduce our footprint, including popcorn (though I am more likely to ear it!) is a great idea. I also state in my polices I try to use recycled materials where ever possible.

  • therainyside

    therainyside said 4 years ago

    Yes, absolutely! Reuse!

  • CharmiosOnEtsy

    CharmiosOnEtsy said 4 years ago

    Of course I only use recycled boxes when shipping, however, I found a way to cut down on my cost of packing material by shredding all the paper, mailers, bills, scratch paper, magazines and school papers my three kids come home with -- you wouldn't believe how much paper the schools give your kids...anyway, I use all that paper I shred as fill rather than packing peanuts or postage paper.

  • laKattun

    laKattun said 4 years ago

    Thank you! Great advice! I remodeled the kitten sticker for my own boxes and translated it to German. Now I feel more professional when reusing old boxes.

  • petitepash

    petitepash said 4 years ago

    I used to love buying wrapping paper--particularly brown wrapping paper, but the past few Christmases I have been using the brown-paper bags from my grocery shopping. I decorate them with black sharpies and then paint them with my watercolor set. They turn out adorably and I don't have to spend a ton of money to wrap up gifts--and even better, my wrapping paper is easily customized. (A fun way to spend the days before Christmas with family and friends as well!)

  • CreativeVenture

    CreativeVenture said 4 years ago

    If anyone eats a great deal of mandarin oranges this time of year, they can reuse the little green papers that they are wrapped in.

  • SZBEADS

    SZBEADS said 4 years ago

    I use white paper bags instead of plastic, just because I believe it's better for our environment. I sell supplies and most resellers use the standard little plastic bags. Every once in awhile I get a comment on my white paper bags, I always write a thank you note on them to the purchaser.

  • speciallyi

    speciallyi said 4 years ago

    Haha!! I would love to receive popcorn!!! Would completely make my day XD

  • tbglitterballs

    tbglitterballs said 4 years ago

    way back before it was cool to be eco friendly- my Mom used to ship birthday cakes to college kids and instead of packing peanuts she used popped popcorn!!

  • curlymonkey

    curlymonkey said 4 years ago

    I love the pop corn idea too!

  • peonyandthistle

    peonyandthistle said 4 years ago

    Thanks for some new ideas! We sell vintage goodies for the home and up-cycled journals so we try to carry on this environmental ethic throughout the whole shipping process. A lot of our vintage items need extremely careful packaging for long trips to the other side of the world - we make sure they get there safely by using biodegradable bubblewrap and recycled tissue paper. We have a very kind local shop owner who gives us her very strong, used boxes for shipping. For items which are being sent more locally (where the weight doesn't have such an impact on the shipping cost) we wrap items in wallpaper from discarded wallpaper sample books, old magazines, old maps, discarded tourist information and old comics and sheet music (as well as the bubblewrap!) - all tied up with some rescued yarn or ribbon... who says being green can't be fun?

  • GirlMakesGoods

    GirlMakesGoods said 4 years ago

    I was also concerned about reusing boxes with printed logos on them. To solve that issue, I just cut the box apart on one edge and turn it inside out and retape it. The printing is inside and no longer visible. The outside then looks like a brand new box!

  • Rhaeyn

    Rhaeyn said 4 years ago

    These are all great and wonderful ideas...except for the popcorn. Having received several packages from my mother with this "great" idea, I can tell you that it is not so much. The kernels mash down or crumble apart and it generally has lost at least a third of the fill space it was intended as. Not to mention that the recipient is generally cleaning up little popcorn bits for some time after. I do love to wrap my gifts candy style with the twists at the ends tied with bits of ribbon or raffia. I also love to reuse my boxes. But my favorite thing is to reuse the multitudes of catalogs that I get in the mail for months before Christmas. Tear them up, shred them, make them into colorful paper hanging ornaments. The possibilities are endless. Thanks for the ideas!

  • BeadedJewls4Everyday

    BeadedJewls4Everyday said 4 years ago

    Love this what a great way to pack items safely. Good tip.

  • MiamiSun

    MiamiSun from MiamiSun said 4 years ago

    Great ideas! I think that etsy buyers are expenting beautiful packages, as a bonus for buying handmade, so these tips come in handy.

  • tomsgrossmami

    Tom's Grossmami from tomsgrossmami said 4 years ago

    Great ideas! Thank you!

  • RaisingAutumn

    Meghan from RaisingAutumn said 4 years ago

    Great ideas! I am always looking at how to reduce my environmental impact and make shipping as green as possible :)

  • SquirrelAndNut

    Erica Downs from SquirrelAndNut said 4 years ago

    If you really want to be environmentally friendly, you have to look beyond biodegradability -- you have to look at the full life cycle of the material. Beyond adding cost to shipping, extra weight increases the carbon footprint of shipped items. I learned many years ago -- in a high school physics project -- that popcorn is NOT lightweight! We had to ship a potato chip, it had to arrive unbroken, and the team with the lightest package won. We thought we were so clever using popcorn, but it didn't even come close. The winning team suspended their chip inside a tube cut from a pantyhose leg and stretched tight, with the ends of the tube attached to opposite corners of the box. Definitely the winner!

  • FeltHappiness

    Juliane Gorman from FeltHappiness said 4 years ago

    I used to work in a flower shop that sold all sorts of glass vases, from various countries. Unpacking the shipments was interesting because of the variety of paper/tissue that the items came packed in. Especially as some of the paper seemed to be recycled already (you could see bits of other papers within it.). I used to keep some of the pretty stuff for rainy day projects. Ideally, the packaging should be recycled, protective AND beautiful! So although it wouldn't be acid-free paper, a visit to one's local gift shop for their packaging 'waste' might prove helpful!

  • chicnuniquegifts

    Elisabeth Schmidt from TheSchmidtStudio said 3 years ago

    As far as the popcorn, I don't know if i would appreciate receiving something in popcorn - and what about the oils it releases? I do use old grocery bags often as my filler. I love the idea of shredding the paper i would normally throw away and using that. I will have try that one!

  • designwithasoul

    Sandrine from designwithasoul said 3 years ago

    Great idea. I love to recycle any materials I can have . Thanks

  • OhMyDays

    Vivian Wong from OhMyDays said 3 years ago

    So many great ideas!! Love it!

  • TheBlueRoseStudio

    Angelina Collins from TheBlueRoseStudio said 2 years ago

    When using pop corn (even organic), careful who you pack for. One of my best friends sons has corn allergies. For him, any type of corn or product made from corn can be tragic. And of course we Don't want to add any Monsanto GMO back into our soil. Love the article. It gave me some awesome ideas. Thanks!

  • TheTwoYellowDogs

    Terri Mando from TheTwoYellowDogs said 2 years ago

    I just returned from a three month trip across the USA (24 states). (We had paper maps just in case no cell coverage and gps failure. The maps were totally used! and so glad we had them many times). When we returned, I decided to up-cycle the maps... I dug some more out of my filing cabinet. I I wrapped all my xmas presents in old maps. Used Red/Green ribbons. Made custom ornaments with "No Place Like Home". When packaging the boxes for shipping, I crumpled some of the maps as packing. It all looks SO f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s!

  • VonnesHandmadez

    Yvonne Teh from VonnesHandmadez said 2 years ago

    Great article. I make boxes out of old menu and hard material paper bags, recycle tissue paper that was used to wrapped plates for padding, reuse bubble-wraps and make shipping envelops from paper bags. I worried that customers may find my packaging cheap, but this article may me feel more confident to reuse and recycle.

  • AlmaLadra

    Vale from AlmaLadra said 2 years ago

    OMG I love all those popcorn! Sometimes I surrender and eat some mais coloured chips from Lush packages :D oops!

  • VictoriVincent

    Matt and Victori Vincent from MadMaps said 2 years ago

    You've inspired me to use the pages of old books from my school library as wrapping for my map art. And thanks for the reminder to communicate my intention to reduce waste, I'd hate to appear that I didn't want to send my customers the very best. Thanks!

  • catheriah620

    Catherine Calvetti from EclecticEchos said 2 years ago

    Instead of avoiding plastic, how about repurposing it. I often mail things in clean dry plastic bottles. Just cut a door, fill with item and shredded paper. Cover with clear tape and everyone gets a smile on their face when they see the package.

  • NeatNat

    Natalia B. from NataBurgos said 2 years ago

    This is a very useful post indeed! I am trying to figure out a beautiful and ecological way of packing my products reusing diferent materials, but I want to be sure that the finished packaged looks neat and pretty. Thank for the tips about telling the costumers about the use of recycled materials.

Sign in to add your own