Green Book Fairies #6: Let’s Talk About… Packaging!

This edition of Green Book Fairies is about mailing packages and the solution whether you send items OR order them online!

Let’s talk about… Packaging!

On our sixth day of #greenbookfairies and in support of #plasticfreeJuly, we are sharing ways that YOU can be more eco-friendly with your packaging, both giving and receiving!

At the very start of The Book Fairies, we were super excited to get some shiny, GREEN jiffy mailers for our new online shop. We posted a fun pic – and got a comment that simply said: “You missed an opportunity to use eco-conscious material here”. This one TINY comment caused us to turn everything around – because we were learning, too. We haven’t looked back. We are sharing this here to show that YOU have a voice – people and companies will listen. We have since sent packages to over 12,000 people, so imagine the impact. While we think we would have come to the decision along the way, this comment really kicked us into action.

The problem:

A lot of packaging, by which we mean mailer bags, filler ‘peanuts’ and polystyrene padding, is non-recyclable. With the ongoing rise of online shopping, this is something that needs to be addressed! It’s the responsibility of the shops and also those who receive the items to do something about it.

A collection of saved packaging from a book fairy in Canada, ready to be re-used!

The solution:

If you send a lot of items in the post:

  • switch to compostable tape. It’s far easier to use, it is just as strong if not stronger than normal tape, and it’s eco-neutral
  • choose to use recycled AND recyclable material for your mail – cardboard is a great alternative to the jiffy bag
  • think about the stuffing – paper stuffing or compostable peanuts are far more friendly than bubblewrap or polystyrene
  • ask for donations of packaging from friends and family
  • grab some labels to pop on re-used packaging – and use the label backing as stuffing!

If you receive items in the post:

  • add a note to your online orders, whatever it may be for, to say ‘please avoid plastic packaging where possible’. At least two of the companies we have worked with in the past have now fully switched to paper packaging as a result of this tiny comment during the process! It really WORKS! Remember – you have a voice.
  • carefully open packages so that you can re-use them at a later date
  • test packing peanuts under water – if they melt, they are compostable (you can even just throw them in the sink and run water on them until they dissolve). If they stay whole, try to re-use them
  • Shout about those companies that operate in an eco-conscious way!

Extra tip – make sure to REMOVE tape from boxes before you put them in the recycling or compost – if it’s not compostable tape, it has to go in the bin.

Sprout agrees that everyone should save their packaging – but he would also like a sleep now, please!

Some great websites to check out:

No Issue are re-designing packaging to be eco-consious: https://www.noissue.co.uk/eco-friendly-mailers.html

Forbes write about ‘What A Waste’ in reference to online shops: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonbird1/2018/07/29/what-a-waste-online-retails-big-packaging-problem/#646ec9c3371d

Fairy verdict:

“We do our bit by re-using mailers donated from friends and family for online orders, choosing recycled/recyclable paper and card when buying new, using cardboard with paper stuffing for the #BookFairyBox, or using compostable tape – and we think about the impact of our packaging. We also choose the people and companies we buy from and work with by their willingness to use plastic-free and non-virgin packaging.”

– The Book Fairies HQ

Do YOU have a tip? Please comment below!

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